Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Guest blogger, Nancy Martin

I've been waiting for the right time to grab the fabulous Nancy Martin as a guest blogger. Today is release date for her new book, Our Lady of Immaculate Deception, so it's the perfect time to welcome her to my blog. I think you'll appreciate her look at a new type of female character. Thank you, Nancy.

And Now, For Something Completely Different . . .
By Nancy Martin

A friend gave me a book he described as “the mystery writer’s mystery writer,” so I read it eagerly. Good mystery, excellent use of setting as theme, but jeez, the detective? What a sad sack. Family issues, an improbable love interest, a boss who hates him for no discernable reason even though he’s relentless about pursuing the bad guys. When I reached the description of his stress-induced diarrhea, I nearly gave up.

That’s when it hit me. How come male protagonists can have diarrhea, and they’re considered un-put-downable? But if a female detective so much as forgets to feed her cat, readers have hissyfits.

When are we going to allow fictional women to be as flawed and human as men?

I’ve been studying the twisted female character ever since my husband got hooked on TV’s Nancy Botwin, the drug-dealing suburban housewife of WEEDS. (Does he watch because he harbors some deep-seated wish that one Nancy could be traded for another? Egad!) When Nancy is abruptly widowed, she discovers she can’t support her family in the style to which they’ve become accustomed, so selling weed to her fellow townsfolk seems like a logical career choice. Quickly, however, she’s “in the weeds”—in deep trouble for her actions. She’s a strong protagonist who solves problems by her quick wits—even if her moral compass is broken. She’s funny, too. Perhaps it’s her humor that mitigates her moral slipperiness?

Despite all my years of experience with readers who like their mysteries genteel and their sleuths even more so (Nora Blackbird is just about as genteel as they come) I wanted to come up with a genre-busting “bad” character for my new mystery series.

So I created (http://www.nancymartinmysteries.com/abt_roxy.html) Roxy Abruzzo, a former mafia princess who—after her family goes to jail—has to fend for herself in a tough neighborhood. With a big mouth, big hair and a bad attitude, she decides to support her teenage daughter by doing “favors” for her uncle Carmine, an aging crime boss. In other words, she’s a single mom who’s a mob fixer. Between jobs, though, she helps people who can’t go to the police when they’re in trouble.

Is Roxy a good girl? No. She’s deeply flawed, and she acts out in socially inappropriate ways while she solves crimes. She doesn’t get diarrhea, but she has some equally unpleasant characteristics that are going to give cozy-only fans the vapors. But—as with many male characters--it’s her struggle against her own mistakes and difficult past that’s as important as her detecting. She’s going to learn and grow.

In the first chapter of OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION, Roxy steals a priceless statue. (After all, what red-blooded girl can resist a handsome naked man?) But the statue’s disappearance triggers the murder of a philandering tycoon and an international art scandal, too. Roxy’s caught in a big mess of her own making. To get out of this thriller-like situation, Roxy uses all her wiles to investigate the depths and heights of her world. Plus there are other difficulties to cope with: Her teenager is probably smarter than she is. The father of her child has problems that make him an impossible life partner. And Roxy has what I’ll delicately call sexual issues resulting from trauma in her youth. Plus she doesn’t quite know the difference between right and wrong.

I think I came up with a dynamic character who’s every bit as unrestrained as her male mystery counterparts. She’s free to act in ways that make her exciting to read about. Will you like her? Maybe not. She’s not for the faint of heart—readers who only want to read about nice girls.

Do you think her time has come? Or should fictional women always be genteel?

Thank you, Nancy! I, for one, am looking forward to "meeting" Roxy!

Nancy Martin is the author of nearly 50 popular fiction novels, including the award-winning, best-selling Blackbird Sisters. She serves on the board of Sisters in Crime and received the 2009 Romantic Times magazine’s award for Lifetime Achievement for mystery writing. Check out her website at www.NancyMartinMysteries.com

Our Lady of Immaculate Deception by Nancy Martin. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2010. ISBN 9780312573720 (hardcover), 320p.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

What an interesting post, Nancy! And thanks for pointing me to your book--I'll be picking it up.

I think women are hardest on other women...it's true. I didn't get much flack for my deeply flawed protagonist because she's an octogenarian...and we let our older ladies get away with murder (so to speak!) :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lesa said...

I'm loving Roxy, Elizabeth, just as I enjoyed your character. Something about those rebellious women appeals to me. (grin) I think you'll enjoy Nancy's book.

Kaye said...

Nancy- I just have to tell you I love your books. I've read every Blackbird sisters books and am usually laughing out loud. Hubby even picked up one and after reading it- he was hooked too! We can't wait to read your new one.
Thank you for this wonderful post.

nancy martin said...

Wow! You ladies are up early! Thanks for all your kind comments. Roxy is definitely something new for me.--Not a Blackbird by any means. But I think her time has come. Today's the day she hits bookstores.--So we'll see.

Kay said...

Nancy, thanks for sharing your thoughts in this post. I loved it. I almost spit coffee at the screen over the stress-induced diarrhea. Indeed. I'm looking forward to meet Roxy and will be passing on the info to my mystery book group, which happily meets tomorrow night. Good luck to you in this new series!

nancy martin said...

Thanks, Kay. The cozy-lovers are having a hard time with Roxy. She takes an attitude adjustment!

Anonymous said...

I love Roxy! Lucky enough to get an ARC, I already know her story and - she's not a Blackbird - but Blackbird fans will get the hot connection!

Mazeltov, Nancy, and thanks for giving me a new blog to read too!

Kathy Sweeney

Dru said...

I read an ARC of this book and love, love Roxy so much that I'm getting a copy for my keeper shelf. I can't wait for the next book in this series.

nancy martin said...

Kathy--You will LOVE Lesa's blog!

Dru--you're so sweet. I still think of you when I go into the post office.--The clerk loved your name and suggested it to her daughter for a new baby!

Lesa said...


Sounds as if you have a loyal following! Thank you for bringing Kathy with you. And, thank you for taking the time to write the blog, and stop by during the day.

Kathy, I hope you find enough of interest here that you come back! Thanks for stopping.

nancy martin said...

Look out, Lesa! Kathy's a handfull!

Lesa said...

Thanks for the warning, Nancy. If she's anything like Roxy, I'll just hand over the blog to her.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Genteel? Hay-ull no. (oh, hope that's okay to say on your blog, dear Lesa..)

What makes a character memorable and wonderful is that she's--real. And what real person is "genteel" all the time?

We love Roxy! And, Nancy, I predict a huge fan club for her--and that yours will be even bigger! Hurray!

(Lesa, as always..you're amazing..)

Lesa said...


You're always welcome here, and you can say anything you would say to your own public (smile).

I'm loving Roxy, too, and I should finish the book tonight, and have a review tomorrow.

Thank you, Hank!

Clea Simon said...

What a great post! I love the sound of Roxy and cannot wait to meet her. A real - not genteel - heroine is overdue!

Lesa said...


Don't you love the way we talk about "meeting" characters? That's exactly how it feels to me, particularly now that the Internet gives me all kinds of "friends" that I'll never meet, but they've become important to me. Good characters are the same way.

Health Online said...

Now it is very easy to contact with doctor.