Welcome back longtime Mysteristas friend Mary Feliz, author of the Maggie McDonald Mysteries.
When life imitates art, life becomes creepy…for a mystery author, that is.
Many writers recount chills they’ve experienced when an fictional disaster begins unfolding in reality. Authors feel responsible and are tempted hold back while plotting their next thriller or murder mystery.
I used to scoff, thinking, “We strive to write things that seem real. Why be alarmed or surprised if similar things actually happen?” But that was before I wrote and published two mystery books.
Address to Die For introduces Maggie McDonald, a professional organizer who has more luck tackling her clients’ untidiness than she does setting her own house in order. She plans a seamless move to Silicon Valley, after which all hell breaks loose, starting with the discovery of a body in their basement.
Scheduled to Death has Maggie helping a high-profile Stanford University professor downsize, move, and beat a murder conviction.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when, within months of signing the contract for the first three books in the series, my husband and I put our house on the market and launched a plan to remodel and move to our thousand-square-foot vacation condo. Nor should I have been astonished when that decision, and the thousands that rapidly followed soon had us feeling scheduled to death.
Luckily, our move was completed with less drama than the crisis-filled mess I threw at my characters, but it had challenges of its own.
Early on in the process, I was up to my ears in boxes and late for a dental appointment. A foundation-rattling rumble sent me scurrying outside. An enormous truck-mounted auger pulled to the curb. The driver announced he was ready to dig the 15-foot hole for our soil test. What soil test?
I called our realtor, who promised to phone the buyer and sort it out. It turned out that the 15-foot-long trench I’d imagined was going to be a 4-inch-diameter core sample 15-feet deep.
Shortly thereafter, a Pacific Gas and Electric engineer rang the doorbell. When I answered, she took a wary step backward. I checked to make sure I was dressed. Managing our move meant I often packed and sorted in my pjs…and showered afterwards to wash off dust and newsprint.
The engineer said PG&E was told the house was vacant. She’d come to turn off utilities and mark the gas lines to ensure safe demolition. My car in the driveway suggested something wasn’t as it should be. She’d thought she’d double check. Smart gal! Our move was still months away.
Eventually, we sailed over all the hurdles. We donated, discarded, or stored seventy-five percent of our belongings, moved the rest, settled into our newly remodeled condo, and stopped to catch our breath.
Our first inkling of a new problem was a clogged toilet we cleared with a plunger. A simple fix, but it got worse. The sink gurgled ominously and the pipes clanked. Plumbers arrived trooping past our front window with hoses and compressors and dour looks. They were followed by Association employees, spontaneous confabs, raised voices, and nervous laughter. And then came the knock on the door.
After much scanning and probing with equipment emitting R2-D2-type chirps, the plumbers completed the equivalent of a full-body MRI on our condo. An elderly sewer pipe needed replacing. We’d need to move out for two weeks while they dug up our living room’s slab floor.
In the end, it worked out like most things do in the real world. Our remodeled kitchen survived undamaged. We didn’t find a body under the slab. No one tampered with the equipment. They didn’t puncture a water pipe and sawing into the slab didn’t weaken the building’s integrity. As mystery fiction, it was a total bust.
We were dispossessed for two weeks, during which we discovered that our characteristic stores of resilience were down a few quarts. But a team of hard-working and sympathetic association employees moved us back in without a hitch. We’ve met most of the staff and other residents it would have taken us longer to befriend under normal circumstances.
So it’s all good. But I have another new book release for Dead Storage in July. Coincidentally our local storage complex recently changed ownership and hours. Trucks pull up, deposit their loads, and leave under cover of darkness. Some of the units emit odd clanking noises at strange hours. The possibilities are endless…
Have you experienced a chill when reality mirrors fiction? Or read a novel with the eerie certainty that the author spied on the darkest hours of your life? Please share in the comments!
For more about the Maggie McDonald Mysteries, visit my website and sign up for my newsletter at: http://www.maryfeliz.com/newsletter/. On February 10, I’ll be giving away five ebook editions of both books to randomly selected names on my newsletter list.
Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust.