My Life of Mystery

I’ve always loved a good mystery. I started with Boxcar Children, Trixie Belden, and Nancy Drew and then, added every one I could order from the school paperback book club. I was beside myself with excitement on “book day,” when our teacher lined up our purchases along the chalk tray, with our order slips sticking up out of the top—Mary C. Jane, Helen Fuller Orton and Augusta Hueill Seaman (every worthwhile children’s mystery author, it seemed, needed the added weight of that middle name or initial)!

My best friend Judi and I really wanted detective careers, but felt our sleuthing skills were lacking. When we read Nancy Drew or the Dana Girls, it seemed as if they were always ready for adventure, an overnight bag stowed in the trunk of the car, complete with magnifying glass and flashlight. They also had numerous survival skills we added to a mental checklist that we knew we needed to work on.

Judi and I made a point to try to get ourselves lost in the woods, so we could work on finding our way out (okay, that was pretty stupid). And we spent heart-pounding afternoons, trying to elude her brother and his friend, as we darted through alleys, and slipped through department store racks and stairways, with them hot on our heels.

By middle school, I’d graduated to Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, and devoured mystery shows and movies on TV. The great favorite of my 20s and 30s was Dorothy L. Sayers, though I also loved other classic authors like Rex Stout and the Lockridges. Eventually, I found my favorite niche in the perfectly-named cozies—oozing dead bodies, but never too horribly graphic. And always tea time!

It’s my great joy, at this stage of my life, to be writing mysteries myself. I felt such pride years ago, when I joined Mystery Writers of America, with its roster of famous members whose stories I’d been reading my whole life. When I stood up at the 1999 Edgars banquet, to present the award for best children’s mystery to Wendelin Van Draanen for Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief, I felt a real connection with all those authors that had gone before, and those who continued to carry the torch.

Sherlock Holmes, of course, lived at 221-B Baker Street. I’ve always believed it was no coincidence that our first apartment number was 221—and that is our house number right now. I think it’s one more sign that I was destined for a life of mystery!

 

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