Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Finding Characters: Guest Post by Michele Drier


Finding Characters 

Rosalind Jacobsen stood at the back of the UCLA lecture hall. She’d enrolled in Medieval Art History because it fulfilled requirements for her history major and shouldn’t have a lot of reading. 

The hall was maybe one-third full. She didn’t want the first row, too near the lecturer. She didn’t want the back row; too far away and besides, the lecturer might make everyone move closer to him if the class didn’t fill up. The move would draw attention to her. The middle rows were filling but she wanted an aisle seat to slip out unnoticed. 

As with most choices in her life, Rosalind, who preferred Roz, took all options into consideration before deciding. Until today. And this decision, seemingly as simple as where she’d sit in a hall of 150 seats, sealed her future. 

Roz found an outside seat about a quarter of the way up the tiers. As she was rifling through her backpack for a notebook and pen, a voice boomed out. 

“OK class, pick a seat and settle down.” She looked at the podium and lost her breath. This was the lecturer? 

A man, probably only a few years old than she, stood with a remote in his hand. He was gorgeous—surf-bleached blond hair, chocolate brown eyes, jeans and a stereotypical jacket with leather elbow patches. Any other time Roz would have been dismissive of the cliché, but on him, it worked. “I’m Winston Duke, and I’m the TA for this class.” 

Oh, please don’t let him catch me staring and before she fully realized that thought, he caught her eye and held it for seconds. 

Those few seconds sealed Roz’ fate. 

During that class, Roz fell in love with medieval stained glass and Winston Duke. 

Now she was an acclaimed stained glass artist, designing and installing windows for clients ranging from a software developer to churches, public buildings and shopping malls. And, after more than a decade of a stimulating and love-filled marriage, international travel and further study, she was a widow. 

Winston was killed in a drive-by shooting outside a Los Angeles shopping mall. His violent death was the first time Roz ran into murder…but it wasn’t the last. 


As an author, I sometimes get asked where my characters come from and if they’re autobiographical. 

Well, yes and no. 

The protagonist in my Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries is based on years of working as a reporter and editor for daily California newspapers, starting with the San Jose Mercury News. No character is precisely one of my co-workers, but there are traits and compilations. And one of the books, Labeled for Death, does hinge on a true case of a winery that passed off Barbera grapes as Zinfandels in the heady 1990 days of explosive growth (and profits). No one died, but fines paid. 

As the first Amy Hobbes, Edited for Death, was being published, my son-in-law said, “write a vampire book.” He’s a little crazy, so I took this with a grain of salt until I read a vampire book, one of Charlaine Harris’. Then read a couple of Jim Butcher’s wizard P.I. Dresden Files. There was whimsey, suspense, mystery and my son-in-law said, “You can do this.” 

And the Kandesky vampires were born. A family of vampires that rose in Hungary five hundred years ago and who’ve captured the international market of celebrity gossip media, both television and magazines. Now ten books into SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles (the eleventh, SNAP: Pandemic Games will be out in summer, 2021) I can say that none of the characters resemble anyone I’ve ever known. 

But the siren call of my first love, mysteries, pulled me back and I found a character I loved. Rosalind (Roz) Duke is a stained glass artist with a growing international reputation and penchant for finding murdered bodies. 

Two books in the series, Stain the Soul and Tapestry of Tears, are published and the third, Resurrection of the Roses, is in an early draft, slated for publication in the fall of 2021.


Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series. She is the past president of Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime; past president of Guppies, the online Sisters in Crime chapter; Vice President of the NorCal Sisters chapter, and co-chaired Bouchercon 2020, the world’s oldest and largest convention for mystery writers and fans. The Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, Labeled for Death, and Delta for Death and a stand-alone, Ashes of Memories. The paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was named the best paranormal vampire series of 2014 by PRG.  The first book in the Stained Glass Mysteries, Stain on the Soul, was published in 2019 and the second one, Tapestry of Tears, in 2020.


Michele Drier said...

Dear Janet, thanks so much for hosting me (and Roz) today. I'm very fond of all my women protags--duh, I certainly hope so--but Roz has taken root in my heart.
She learned who killed Winston, but has nagging doubts about why he was at the place where he was shot. Was it something she did or said that made him drive to that mall? It's an unanswered question that she lives with every day.
I do hope to see you when this awfulness is over!

Elaine Faber said...

Tapestry of Tears is a mystery set in an exotic setting (sort of) England! Intrigue and romance and murder all rolled into interesting facts about the art of stained glass. (Learn something while you read for enjoyment.).

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

It was nice to learn more about Michele Drier and her publishing history. What a productive writer, and quite a range as well. I enjoyed Stain on the Soul tremendously. I'm looking forward to reading Tapestry of Tears.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Michele and Janet,
Great interview. I enjoyed finding out more about Michele and her new series. Best of luck with it!

Cynthia Sample said...

Michele Drier is one of my favorite authors and I'm loving this new series. Thanks for creating such interesting protagonists and plots!