Please join me in welcoming bestselling author Elaine Viets as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.
Elaine’s latest book is HALF-PRICE HOMICIDE, A DEAD-END JOB MYSTERY. Elaine puts herself into the jobs she has her protagonist, Helen Hawthorne, doing in the series. Elaine stopped by today to talk about “which came first….”
Which comes first when I write a novel: the research or the story?
For my Dead-End Job mysteries, the research comes first. The story grows out of what I learn while working the job. I don’t have a plot or a victim or a killer in mind when I start researching the job.
For “Half-Price Homicide,” my ninth Dead-End Job mystery, Helen and I worked at Hibiscus Place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hibiscus Place sells designer duds on consignment, along with purses, shoes and fancy knickknacks.
I spent a lot of time buttoning shirts (I swear they unbuttoned themselves at night) and dusting decorators’ delights at the store.
Most customers were men and women who appreciated fine clothes and shoes. A few were women married to rich, controlling men. These men let their wives to shop at the finest stores in South Florida, but wouldn’t give them spending money. Their wives would bring in expensive clothes for resale. That was the only way they could get cash.
If a woman brought in a $3,000 designer purse, it could be sold on consignment for about $500. She would get half that.
Many of these designer items still had the store tags. The cash-strapped women were desperate for their own money, not more designer clothes. They reminded me of my German-American grandmother. She used to wait until Grandpa fell asleep after his bowling night, then take his pocket change. Grandpa thought he’d spent the money on beer.
My grandparents were on a tight budget. These women were not. They were married to men to kept them under their thumbs.
In “Half-Price Homicide,” Helen works at Snapdragon’s Second Thoughts. A trophy wife named Chrissy brings in a Prada purse that cost more than my first car. Chrissy is frantic to sell the purse for cash, but her husband tracks her down.
Poor Chrissy is found dead in a Snapdragon’s dressing room. But I wasn’t cruel. She died in style, strangled by a Gucci scarf.
“Half-Price Homicide” is the ninth Dead-End Job mystery and a turning point in the series. Helen is still on the run from the court after an unfair divorce judgement. Her awful ex husband, Rob, tracks her down and demands the month he’s entitled to – thirty-thousand dollars cash.
Helen has many wants:
She wants to clear her name with the court.
She wants her terrible ex to go away.
And she wants to marry Phil, the man she loves.
In “Half-Price Homicide,” Helen will get everything she wants – and regret she gets what she wants most.
Elaine, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. Your extensive research definitely pays off in the Dead-End Job series. With Helen getting what she wanted so badly, I can’t wait to see what job she takes next.
For more information on Elaine and the Dead-End Job series, check out her website and Elaine also blogs on The Lipstick Chronicles.