We are delighted to welcome mystery author Jim Bronyaur as our guest blogger today.
Jim's first mystery in the "Minivan Mom" series is If Errands Could Kill (Hundred to Home Publishing, March 2012 print and ebook editions).
Today Jim tells us how his series character, Eve Bailey, came about.
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I get asked a lot about being a man and why I would write a mystery series with a woman as the lead character. No, I'm not an expert on women, and no I'm not like Mel Gibson in What Women Want. What I have is a great woman who, rather than stand behind me, stands alongside me, and she has helped to create and shape the woman that Eve Bailey is in the Minivan Mom Mystery Series.
I was in my basement one night going over some notes … well, several notes. I take a lot of notes. I have about nine notebooks that all serve a purpose. Something was eating at me that night … I wanted to create a series. I didn't want to do a horror series (I already have one in the works). I did not want to do a thriller series, or zombies, or anything else that I had been working on. I wanted something different. Something fast. Something fun.
What's more fun than murder?
Whoa, that sounds a little off, but that's what came to me. To my left, on the wall, was a sticky note for a crime/thriller series I had an idea for. It looked good, I had help from a friend with it, but it wasn't what I wanted right then.
I wanted a simple murder/mystery series.
It made me think about hearing my wife upstairs with the kids all the time. The way they run around, yell, scream, get in trouble, and laugh. How she is so great with them, becoming more of an amazing mother each day, and I realized … there's my character. Imagine a stay-at-home mom who finds herself swept into a murder case? I pictured this woman who drives a green minivan, hurrying her kids to and from school, going to the grocery store, planning out dinners, making sure everyone's schedules are in place … and then throw in a murder.
That's when Eve Bailey was born.
To mold her, I had the help from my wife. She gave me input, insight, and allowed me to really build this fun character that right now is a major part of my life. We are working on the first four books of the Minivan Mom Mystery Series, and in each one Eve is the centralized character who somehow is pulled into a murder case. The fun part is that each story is different. In the first book, she follows someone and witnesses their murder. The second book is different from that storyline, as is book three and book four. Working with my wife on this series has been fun, and I hope the series continues because I love learning more about Eve and my wife.
In the background of Eve's life, there is always the mention of her grandmother – a woman who was stubborn and strong at the same time. I based Eve's grandmother off of my own grandmother who passed away almost seventeen years ago. She is still a major part of my life and my family's life, which proves that it is important to realize that the things we do in our lives will impact those around us, even after we are gone.
So let's now meet the Bailey family …
We all know who Eve is by now. She's the leader of the family, the tough stay-at-home mom who helps to solve the murder of local resident, Janet, all the while cooking dinner, cleaning, and preparing the week for her oldest daughter's championship soccer game. I get tired just thinking about what Eve does on a daily basis!
Eve is married to Ben. Ben is a lawyer and a soft spoken man, but one who can also pull out his "lawyer card" and become very convincing and involved in conversation, which is a trait that the children inherited. He's a good man, the bread winner of the family, but he's also, in some ways, another person for Eve to care for. Eve can easily predict when Ben will spill something on his clothes or better yet, dip his tie in his coffee. She knows him so well that she even has a spare tie ready to go.
Now, the kids …
Delaney is the oldest. She is almost a teenager, which is scary enough for Eve and Ben (maybe more than solving murders!). She plays soccer and almost has a tomboy kind of demeanor in the first book. She is both strong like Eve and determined like Ben.
The middle child is Cody, the only son of the family. He is in a bit of a rebellious stage in book one (which *hint hint* carries over into book two). In fact, the book begins just after Cody is caught skipping school and Eve does the worst punishment she could think of – she drives him to school and drops him off in front of all the other kids. Cody is a mere twin of Ben and when he acts out, Ben's mother, Sandy, can only sit back and smile, as it's now fun to watch Ben go through what she went through. In the end though, Cody is a good kid, and Eve and Ben know it.
The baby of the family is Penny. Sweet, innocent Penny who wears pigtails and manages to get dirty before leaving the house for school. She questions everything around her – just like Ben – and isn't afraid to stand up for herself when she needs to – just like Eve. In the first book, Penny finds herself trying to talk to her goldfish as she's convinced that the bubbles the fish blows is its way of talking.
It doesn't take long in the morning to make Eve's house hectic, especially when Ben stains his shirt, Cody is in trouble with school, Penny is questioning goldfish bubbles, and Delaney is practicing her soccer kicks in the foyer. Nevertheless, it is a life that Eve loves and it is a life that I understand because each morning at 6:30, my house is awake and ready for the day. My two boys come charging down the stairs, arguing over what the day will bring … milk versus orange juice, Lucky Charms versus Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and of course, who will get what WWE wrestlers to play with.
Creating Eve was not that hard, not with my wife next to me, helping me. The story came to me very quickly and once the book was done, I grew worried. I felt like I was staring at the wall of "Now What?" but we knocked that down. My wife and I sat together and plotted out three more books, and that's when we realized just how far we could take Eve and her family. Each person is an important part in the growth of the series and to be honest, even though I am the writer, when I sit down at the keyboard to write, I can't help but be excited to see what Eve does next, or what the kids do or learn.
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You can read more about Jim and his books by visiting his website at JimBronyaur.info.
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About If Errands Could Kill:
Up at sunrise to enjoy the quiet of a sleeping household, Eve Bailey gets her coffee, prepares breakfast for her three children, and has a spare tie ready knowing that her husband, Ben, will definitely spill something on the one he is wearing. Their oldest daughter, Delaney, is one game away from moving onto the soccer championships, their son, Cody, skipped school yesterday, and innocent 7 year old Penny is trying to communicate with her goldfish.
Eve's days are that of a typical stay at home mom. Her typical day changes drastically after she drives Cody to school as part of his punishment for skipping school. Cody's creepy science teacher, Mr. Jackson, approaches Eve to let her know that her check for Cody's field trip had bounced. Knowing it had to be an error, Eve heads to the bank to figure it out. While in line, she chats with her mother in law who works at the bank. Then she notices Janet, another bank employee and self-made town outcast, acting very strange at the back counter. Eve's concern grows when she is leaving the bank and sees Janet open the gas tank door and then drives away. Against her better judgment, Eve follows Janet.
What happens next is something unheard of in quiet Marysville, Pennsylvania. Janet is murdered in front of Eve's eyes, and the police find drugs in her car. Murder and drugs? It doesn't make sense. Eve is now a witness and determined to disprove the "drug deal gone wrong" theory. Can she convince the police that she knows who the killer is, save her family, and make it to Delaney's big soccer game in time?