He's stone cold dead in the market
Stone cold dead in the market
Stone cold dead in the market
I killed nobody but my husband
My mother used to sing that ditty to us as children. While other families sang 100 Bottles in the car, we sang Frankie and Johnny. I've known all the words since I was ten years old - maybe younger - so do my daughter and nieces. (My son doesn't like songs with words.) Add shelves full of the collected works of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, Rex Stout -- some of which my mother had brought with her from England when she emigrated -- no wonder I turned to crime writing.
|Mum, 1952, British Passport|
The setting and characters kept evolving as I learned more about police procedure, technology, and life in general. I had pages of notes but I was missing an essential ingredient - a plot. I had an overall story arc for the key relationships, but I couldn't plot the mystery until I had a mystery to solve. I was a crime writer without a crime.
|Aunty Yang, Nana and Mum - Family Matriarchs|
I learned that Mum was more upset about my sister's marriage breaking up than she let on. Aunt Yang confirmed that Mum also considered leaving Dad, but didn't feel supported in her decision, so stuck it out "for the children". I always knew Mum and Dad weren't suited. They loved each other, but they didn't always like each other. I also know that neither Joey nor I knew what to do about it.
Having gone through postpartum depression, I understood, in retrospect, that my mother had been depressed for the last years of her life. Talking to my aunt, I learned that it had less to do with her health problems and weight issues than being forced to take early retirement. I started thinking about how engaged Mum was in her work -- how proud she was of what she did.
|Mum at Work|
We (the rest of the family) never knew how she felt. She made the retirement package seem like it was her idea all along. Mum and Dad went on a trip to Spain and Morocco immediately. The golden years had begun. The downhill slide into depression went unnoticed by most, if not all of her nearest and dearest.
The conversation with Aunt Yang was illuminating. It confirmed my suspicions, revealed new aspects of my mother's situation, and - because writers need to be opportunistic - it gave me an idea for a murder. I looked to my mother and all those boring conversations about insurance I endured as a teen whenever Mum invited a colleague home for dinner. I thought about who my mother would like to kill (other than her husband, in the market, with a frying pan) and who I could get to do it for her. It was her legacy.
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
Thanks for Deadly Legacy.
Note: This is an updated post from 2010 - when I was still looking for a publisher for Deadly Legacy. Ironically, it wasn't until this year that I finally heard the full version of Stone Cold Dead in the Market which I will share with you.
(Mum only taught us the chorus.)