Please welcome Sharon St. George, author of the Aimee Machado Mysteries!
I’ve chosen three questions to answer for this post on Mysteristas:
- What do you think makes a good story?
- How do you incorporate that into your books?
- What themes do you regularly revisit in your writing?
Aimee Machado, the protagonist in my series, is Portuguese on her father’s side and Chinese on her mother’s side. Like a real-life biracial woman currently in the news (hint: a royal wedding is coming soon) Aimee is blessed with striking beauty due to her lucky combination of genes. Along with that blessing, though, comes what many would consider a burden. That’s the burden of being half of one thing and half of another. There are those who argue that one of those halves is better than the other, or at least more acceptable. But must we choose sides?
If there is a theme in the Aimee Machado Mystery series, I suppose it’s just that simple. I believe the best stories happen when conflict escalates because both sides are convinced that they are in the right, and the protagonist is forced to choose sides.
Sometimes this theme shows up in the main plot line of my books, and sometimes it appears in a subplot. All the mysteries in this series involve Aimee’s job in a hospital where she is a forensic librarian who also coordinates the hospital’s Continuing Education Program and its Ethics Committee. Each mystery involves someone in the hospital’s orbit, either a patient, an employee, or a member of the medical staff. Here’s how this theme is incorporated into my stories.
In book one, Due for Discard, we have a murder suspect who is experimenting with a transgender lifestyle. There it is, half one thing, half another. How does this character come to terms with gender identity and does it affect the outcome of the story?
In Checked Out, second in the series, we see a mixed-race couple struggling with the secret relationship they’re keeping from their families because their love puts them in danger in the white supremacist locale where they live. Their families want them safe, but the couple cannot be both safe and happy. What do they choose? Hmmm, there’s that theme again.
In book three, Breach of Ethics, the subject of vegan diets comes up as a major plot point in the murder of a doctor. Is veganism a healthy lifestyle, or, in the hands of well-meaning but poorly informed parents, can it be deadly for a young child? As with the other books, this issue has no right or wrong answer, but it can certainly cause conflict worthy of exploring in a mystery novel.
In Spine Damage, book four, we see Aimee struggling with a dilemma involving a member of the medical staff of the hospital where she works. Only he can save a patient who is at the heart of the story, but he’s facing suspension due to failure to fulfill his continuing education requirements. Which comes first? The patient or the rules? Is there a right and a wrong here? Who decides?
I’m now working on book five, which involves organ donation. What an exciting topic, and perfect for the theme discussed here. I can hardly wait for this one to hit the shelves.
The theme of choosing between two sides when both believe they are in the right is universal, but it can be narrowed down to generate conflict in any number of ways that might lead to murder, or at least to a mystery to be solved.
My past work experience involved several years in the positions of director of medical staff services and health sciences librarian in an acute-care hospital where the intrigues and secret-keeping I witnessed inspired me to write the hospital-based Aimee Machado Mystery series. My degrees are in English and Theatre Arts. When I have time for a break from writing, I enjoy taking on a role in a community theatre production or hiking in the foothills with my llamas. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and I serve as program director for Writers Forum, a nonprofit organization for writers in Northern California.
The Aimee Machado Mysteries are published by
Camel Press, an imprint of Epicenter Press