In this post, veteran mystery author L.A. Kornetsky discusses the motivation for writing her Gin & Tonic sleuths. Her latest, Clawed, is available now – and don’t miss the first installments, Doghouse, Collared and Fixed.
Four books ago, I came up with the characters of Ginny Mallard and Theodore Tonica, and through them, Mistress Penny-Drops the bar cat, and Georgie the Mostly Shar-Pei. And even though they changed and grew from the first scribbles on a post-it stuck to a coffee mug, from the very beginning I had a single starting point for my characters.
They were going to be okay.
Because, honestly, I was kind of tired of reading about the Damaged Hero or Heroine. It’s a great trope, I love it as much as any avid reader, but…sometimes you think to yourself “oh god, another one? Is anyone out there actually functional? Isn’t anyone well-adjusted?”
After a while, you start to wonder if it’s possible for characters to be complex and interesting without some fatal flaw, some terrible backstory, some lost love or sabotaged relationship.
I thought – no, I was certain that the answer was yes.
And that’s where Ginny and Teddy came in.
Because the truth is that the worst thing we can say about Ginny is that she’s a little compulsive, and she feels guilty that she just wants her parents to trust her judgment as an adult, already. And Teddy? He’s hiding the fact that he came from a family of money and power, not because he doesn’t love them – he does – but because he’s not particularly ambitious, and doesn’t want the hassle of trying to live up to the family name.
They’re not perfect, they’re not foolproof or Better Than Thou. They’re just horribly, tragically well-adjusted, functioning adults, who have ended up meddling in the lives of people who, to quote my teenaged niece, “have utterly failed to adult.”
Because the people Ginny and Teddy try to help do not have their shit together. There’s really no kinder way to put it that that – the clients of Gin & Tonic Investigations may be grown ups, but they have failed to adult. They have messed up, they are messed up, and they’ve mostly made the very worst choice they could, every step of the way. Which is why they need our intrepid duo – sorry, Penny, our intrepid foursome – to help them out of it.
In COLLARED, Teddy and Ginny are hired to find a man who has his own reasons to remain hidden. FIXED leads them to guilty goings-ons in an animal shelter. DOGHOUSE mixes it up with an ex-boxer who saw the wrong things, and now in CLAWED, they’re dragged into questions of money, sex, and the mistakes we make that shape us. And they’re not brilliant in their sleuthing, they’re not better-trained, or superpowered.
But they are our tour guides through the lands of Messed Up, giving us hope that, eventually, things will work out; that good will, if not triumph, at least sort things out and make sure it doesn’t happen again; give us closure and satisfaction of a job well done.
To quote Ginny: “Contrary to her parents’ opinion, she did have a head full of common sense, and contrary to the opinions of certain other people, she didn’t actually enjoy being hip-deep in trouble. But – a little voice had been saying, counter-point to the very sensible voice – she made a living getting her hands dirty fixing other peoples’ problems. And she was good at it.“
And that’s what I wanted to do with these books – that when you read the last page and close the book, you aren’t depressed or upset at the world, but rather feel that so long as there are people like Teddy and Ginny around, things are gonna be okay….