When my editor told me that she wanted me to write a new series, I had a panic attack. I’d never thought about writing another series. I thought I’d grow old with Annie Seymour like Sara Paretsky has with VI Warshawski, like Sue Grafton with Kinsey Milhone, like Marcia Muller with Sharon McCone.
Suddenly, my world — or at least, Annie’s world — was gone.
I brainstormed with my agent about what sorts of characters I could create. I came up with a house sitter, a bus driver, a political blogger (it was during the presidential primaries and I was obsessed). I even went as far as to write a first chapter with the political blogger, but my editor said her people wanted something totally different from me. So I asked her, what were they looking for?
A tattoo shop mystery.
I think I laughed. Me? Write about a tattoo shop? I have no tattoos. I don’t really know anything about that world; I never even dated a guy with a tattoo. I’d certainly never been inside a tattoo shop.
My editor told me she had faith in me. That she knew I could do this. After some soul searching and reading a book about the history of women and tattoos, I sat down to write what’s called a series bible, a description of the characters and setting, which just so happens to be Las Vegas.
So I started thinking about it. Brett Kavanaugh would be the name of the tattoo shop owner. She’s from New Jersey and moved to Vegas when her brother’s fiancée moved out of the house and he needed help paying the mortgage. Her brother, Tim, is a Las Vegas police detective.
I needed tattooist employees, so I created Joel Sloane, a 300-pound man who is perpetually on Weight Watchers, and Ace van Nes, an incredibly good looking man with perfect hair and perfect tattoos who is a frustrated artist. Bitsy Hendricks is the shop manager. She’s a little person and drives a Mini Cooper. She’s also tough as nails.
As I wrote about these characters, filling in details and descriptions, I found myself drawn to them. Granted, there were characters included in the series bible who never made it into the book. And there are characters who weren’t in the series bible who just showed up and demanded their own page space. I created a whole different world from the one Annie inhabited. And I found it to be just as fun. Maybe a little more fun, actually.
But don’t tell Annie.
Causes Karen Olson Supports
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation