I'm meeting with a local book club (one of my favorite types of events) next month. In preparation, I was sent a few questions to consider before the meeting. One question on the list was, "Where do you get your ideas and how did you develop your main character Sydney Lockhart?" I've been asked that question before and the best answer is: blame it on Bogie and Bacall.
I first saw the movie To Have and to Have Not when I was in my early twenties. Who could not become enthralled with sexy Humphrey Bogart and sultry Lauren Bacall? When Bacall looks over at Bogart and asks, "You know how to whistle, don't you?", despite his tough guy facade, he becomes putty in her hands, on stage and off. The movie was loosely based on Ernest Hemingway’s novel of the same name, but the noir flavor of the film drew me into other Bogart/Bacall movies such as The Big Sleep (novel by Raymond Chandler), and Dark Passage (novel by David Goodis). Then I discovered the Nick and Nora Thin Man movies (novel by Dashiell Hammett), and another Bogie film based on Hammett’s novel The Maltese Falcon. This time he’s playing the private eye Sam Spade. Suddenly, watching these wisecracking tough guys and seductive femme fatales on screen wasn’t enough, so I headed to the library and discovered a new world of noir mysteries.
I not only sailed through Chandler and Hammett, I discovered Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe, Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer, and John D. MacDonald Travis McGee.
When I began writing my own mysteries, there was no doubt, they’d have a
noir flavor, but my protagonist is female. She's a sassy redhead named
Sydney Lockhart and she creates more problems than she solves. My latest Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Driskill, was released in November 2014. Although Sydney doesn't whistle in the story, she does have a few tricks up her sleeve to grab her partner Ralph Dixon's attention.
Labels: Austin, cozies, Driskill Hotel, female sleuth, humor, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, mysteries, Raymond Chandler, Sydney Lockhart