I logged in to the random number generator this morning and had it pick a book for today’s blog post. Its selection? Rebel Without a Cake, the fifth book in the Piece of Cake mystery series I wrote under the pseudonym Jacklyn Brady. I had a great time writing Rebel Without a Cake. In fact, it was a book that helped me remember just how fun it is to write. And so, without further ado, here are five glimpses behind the scenes.
I picked the name Jacklyn Brady because I’ve always liked the name Jacklyn and because Brady is a family name on my dad’s side of the family. If I was going to use a pseudonym (at my publisher’s suggestion) I wanted it to be name I could connect with on an emotional level.
Number 1: The inspiration for Miss Frankie, one of the most popular characters in the series, was a woman who is very dear to me, Miss Jonnie. Although Miss Frankie started off looking and talking like Miss Jonnie, she soon morphed into her own woman. By the time I wrote Rebel Without a Cake, there was very little resemblance other than physical between the two women. The inspiration for Miss Frankie’s best friend and neighbor, Bernice Dudley, is another woman who is very dear to me. Miss Leona. Again, though she started out with similarities to Miss Leona, she quickly became real to me and developed her own personality. Other than hair and body shape, Bernice bears no resemblance to Miss Leona, although both Miss Jonnie and Miss Leona are some highly entertaining woman, and like their counterparts, the two fictional characters kept me highly entertained in every book in the series. From the minute Bernice shows up at Miss Frankie’s door clutching a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other, I knew I was going to have a great time writing the book.
Number 2: Though I do try to come up with a basic road map for each book before I start writing, the characters will frequently take over and turn the book into something I didn’t have planned. Bernice showing up with her Bible and her gun, claiming to have seen a ghost, was definitely not in my original plans. Once she showed up, however, I knew I had to let her tell me what the story was. That’s one reason I call my plotting method “organic” plotting. I would never ignore a character’s truth because I had something different planned. Is that scene realistic? Absolutely. Bernice isn’t the only person to tote a Bible and a gun at the same time in my neck of the woods!
Number 3: Cousin Eskil was one of my favorite characters in the book to write, mostly because of his name. Eskil was my dad’s first name at birth, but he hated the name. When he joined the Army during World War II, he changed it legally, put his middle name first, and used the initial “E” in the middle for the rest of his life.
Of course, some of the older relatives in the family refused to make the change with him, and I remember how he would cringe anytime one of them called him “Eskil.”
I would never have dreamed of using the name for a character when my dad was live. In fact, I didn’t plan to use the name in this book either. Dad would have been extremely unhappy with me if I had. But once Bernice told me about the ghost she’d seen, and once I realized she had a cousin lost in the swamp, I knew his name immediately. I had to use it. If you’re a writer with a great name like that in your wheelhouse and you refuse to use it, you probably ought to turn in your writer card.
Number 4: The murder weapon in this book is undoubtedly my favorite of all the murder weapons I’ve used in a book. No. I’m not going to tell you what it was. I will, however, confess to laughing when I found a police report on file citing a case in which someone had actually used the weapon in a real murder. It wasn’t funny, I’m sure, to the real victim or his family, but it gave me a giggle or two as I wrote the book.
Number 5: This is the only series of books I’ve written for which I knew the titles of the books before I had a plot for the book. That sometimes made finding the story’s plot a bit challenging, but I loved the titles so much, I didn’t really mind the challenge. My daughters and I brainstormed the titles one night over a very long long-distance call between Utah (where Older Daughter and I lived at the time) and Florida (where Younger Daughter lived at the time.) They’re both so clever and funny, I owe them a huge debt of gratitude for sticking with me, trying a dozen or more different ideas, before we found a theme that worked.
So there you have ’em: five things you might not have known about Rebel Without a Cake by Jacklyn Brady before today. If you haven’t read the series yet, I hope you’ll give them a try.