A Series Takes on a Life of Its Own

A Series Takes on a Life of Its Own

Posted on October 17 by R.J. Harlick
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Purple Palette for Murder is the eighth book in the Meg Harris Mystery series, which began with the publication of the first mystery, Death’s Golden Whisper. When I started out on this journey with Meg, I had no idea where she would take me. I wasn’t even certain if it was going to be a series. But by the time I finished writing Death’s Golden Whisper, I knew I wanted to continue with Meg and see where life led her.

With each new book, I found myself becoming more immersed in her world. Though the standalone murder plot is the main theme of each book, the events going on in Meg’s life shape them, from her on-again, off-again romance with Eric Odjik, band chief of the Migiskan Anishinabeg, and her ongoing struggles with alcohol to her attempts to deal with traumatic events from her past. Despite her attempts to suppress them, usually with a few lemon vodkas too many, invariably some trigger causes one of them to raise its ugly head and forces her to face it head on.

Though I didn’t start out plotting a life for Meg, it happened as the writing and the storylines unfolded, much like life itself. I would place obstacles in Meg’s way and see how she handled them. Sometimes she overcame them with ease, other times with great difficulty. But though she is often tempted to give in and do nothing, she never does. She just keeps on trying to overcome them as best she can.

Most of us don’t live in a vacuum. Neither does Meg. People come in and out of her life. Though they may not appear in every book, they are important to her. And they have lives of their own. This includes Eric, his daughter Teht’aa, and Adjidamó, a young Algonquin boy who Meg saved in Red Ice for a Shroud.

By the eighth book, Meg has become a close friend. I know her intimately. There has been the odd occasion when my editor has suggested a change to something Meg was doing or saying. It was all I could do to keep from shouting, “No way. Meg would never do that.”  There have also been times when I had to place Meg in a situation that I really didn’t want to happen to her, like in A Cold White Fear. I had to rewrite the scene three times before I could muster up the courage to take it as far as the story demanded. But it left her struggling at the end of the book. So in the writing of a Purple Palette for Murder I had to find a way for her to come to terms with the trauma.

I enjoy writing a series. I enjoy watching Meg’s life and those of her friends unfold. I hope you enjoy getting involved in Meg’s world too.

R.J. Harlick

Posted by KathrynB on December 6, 2014
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R.J. Harlick

R.J. Harlick’s love for Canada’s untamed wilds is the inspiration for the Meg Harris mystery series. The fourth in the series, Arctic Blue Death, was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel. R.J. Harlick divides her time between Ottawa and west Quebec.