Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am thrilled to welcome Lori Robbins to
Escape With Dollycas today!
Welcome to Escape With Dollycas!
I hope your readers enjoy this guest post.
Fiction That’s True to Life
by Lori Robbins
People often ask how I come up with my plots. It’s a reasonable question since my life would appear to offer little in the way of crime-related inspiration. Nonetheless, commonplace events, past and present, fuel my stories. Everything that happens on a typical day, from standing in line for a Covid test to struggling with a difficult coworker, is fodder for my crime fiction. In other words, everything I write is true, but none of it is real.
On the other hand, writing amateur sleuth mysteries poses a creative challenge of no small proportion. The only way to credibly place a teacher, a dancer, a bookseller, or a baker at the heart of a murder investigation is to somehow make the impossible seem inevitable. For me, the best way to solve the problem is to imagine myself in the protagonist’s place. That’s why both my mystery series are inspired by my lived experience.
My first career was as a dancer. It’s a world I know intimately, and because it’s filled with inherent conflict it works well as a dramatic framework for a murder mystery. A ballerina’s professional life is brutally short, even without a fictional crime thrown into the mix, and this vulnerability makes dancers extremely susceptible to all kinds of pressure. An added element of tension is embedded in the fact that dancers aren’t simply in competition with each other. They’re also in competition with themselves: their own bodies and their own frailties. The stresses dancers face on an everyday basis didn’t need much in the way of exaggeration to provide plenty of motivation for murder. The emotions are real, even if the situation is fiction.
Leah, the protagonist of the On Pointe Mystery series, is a thirty-something ballerina who is battling the limitations of her own body when she is thrust into a murder investigation. Her fraught relationships with food, with her own body, and with her fellow dancers are all grounded in reality. I’ve read and watched many fictionalized accounts of life in a professional dance company, and it really bothers me when the details aren’t true to life. Those elements are something I very much wanted to get right in my books.
The narrative arc of Murder in Second Position doesn’t simply rest upon the murder investigation. It also follows Leah’s growth as a human being as she navigates a perilous path in an unforgiving environment. In the end, she learns there’s more to life, and to her, than being onstage. That’s a lesson, and a challenge, many people face, now more than ever. Others have found themselves outsourced and out of work and have to rebuild their lives in ways they never imagined they could do. Leah’s story is pure invention. Leah’s life is real.
After my dance career ended I became an English teacher. Working in a public high school provided enough material for a library’s worth of murder mysteries. This is fortunate, for my first novel, Lesson Plan for Murder will be rereleased in June 2022 as the first in a three-part Master Class Mystery series. The mundane events of life as a teacher were fertile ground for life as a writer.
My biggest problem in crafting a realistic backdrop for the story was that the craziest parts of being a teacher seemed too farfetched. I once wrote a passage my editor thought was unrealistic. Except it was toned-down version of an email one of my colleagues actually received from an irate parent. In that case, truth was too strange for fiction.
Within that context, a crime-fighting English teacher feels a lot more reasonable. Liz Hopewell, like ballerina Leah Siderova, is a most unlikely choice as a sleuth. But, not unlike the rest of us, they have to use their wit, their intelligence, and their determination to survive.
I’ll admit that a story about an ex-cop, who has a tortured past and a Glock pistol, may seem more credible. And there’s undeniable appeal in books and movies that follow the adventures of detectives who possess tech skills an MIT grad would envy. It’s thrilling to watch these pros successfully thwart a global conspiracy.
But that’s just not me, or anyone I know. I’ve never been tempted to get into a high-speed car chase. I still get nervous every time I’m stuck in New York City traffic. But the urge to take bold action is within us all.
Thank you Lori so much for visiting today.
About Murder in Second Position
Murder in Second Position: An On Pointe Mystery
2nd in Series
Level Best Books (November 23, 2021)
Paperback : 258 pages
ISBN-10 : 1685120210
ISBN-13 : 978-1685120214
Kindle ASIN : B09FM1JTFL
Ballerina Leah Siderova belongs onstage. Not in an interrogation room at Manhattan’s Twentieth Precinct. And yet, for the second time in less than a year, that’s where she has a starring role. It wasn’t her fault someone killed the autocratic new director of the American Ballet Company. And it wasn’t her job to find the killer.
Leah is determined to stay as far away as possible from the murder investigation. After all, if she were going to kill someone, it would have been the woman who’s been relentlessly trolling her on social media. And that’s where things get complicated. Because when dancers say “ballet can be murder” they don’t mean it literally.
Most of the time.
About Lori Robbins
Brooklyn-born Lori Robbins began dancing at age 16 and launched her professional career three years later. She studied modern dance at the Martha Graham School and ballet at the New York Conservatory of Dance. Robbins performed with a number of dance companies, including Ballet Hispanico, the Des Moines Ballet, and the St. Louis Concert Ballet. After ten very lean years as a dancer she attended Hunter College, graduating summa cum laude with a major in British Literature and a minor in Classics.
The opening book in her On Pointe Mystery Series, Murder in First Position, won the Indie Book Award for Best Mystery, was a finalist for a Silver Falchion, and is currently on the short list for a Mystery & Mayhem Book Award. Murder in Second Position will be released November 23, 2021. Her debut mystery, Lesson Plan for Murder, won the Silver Falchion for Best Cozy Mystery and was a finalist in the Readers’ Choice and Indie Book Awards. It will be re-released in June 2022. She authored two short stories in 2021: “Accidents Happen” in Mystery Most Diabolical, and “Leading Ladies” in Justice for All. She is an expert in the homicidal impulses everyday life inspires.
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Purchase Link – Amazon
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