Across the books and in person.

Welcome! Since I write two English mystery series, I thought it would be fun to chat about that. And about England. Specifically, Derbyshire, since that is the county I know the best. If you have questions about my books, about mysteries or your own writing, or want to know something about England -- perhaps you're planning a visit -- I'd love to talk with you. Let's start chatting, shall we?

Derbyshire VIllage

Derbyshire VIllage

Friday, September 17, 2010

McLaren Breathes

I got a smashing idea the other day. the British use it....not as the Americans use it.  Since McLaren has now taken 3-D form, is walking about and breathing, why not create a poster of him?  And offer it for sale?  I didn't deliberately set out to do this -- it came about so innocently as I was trying to decide which pose to use for my cardboard stand up (you've seen them in stores, whose life sized cardboard figures of movie stars).  It was no simple matter, for Don Keller, my photographer friend who does my book jacket photos, had taken many dozen snaps of McLaren.  McLaren at the stone wall, with the rock pick, with the silver charm, in a white Henley, in a black muscle shirt, looking thoughtful, smiling, kneeling, standing....  It was harder to decide on a pose than it is to decide which T-shirt to wear each day.  (You think I'm kidding.  Have you seen my collection of snapping sayings, New Zealand, Taylor & Graham, McLaren, L&L Dreamspell, police, and writer garments?)  Anyway, leafing through Don's super snaps lead me to putting a few of my favorites side by side for easier comparison.  When I got about a half dozen on the computer screen I realized I liked the effect.  What if I interspersed them with photos of Derbyshire stonewalls, the stone barn, Siren Song's book cover....  The result is the Lovely Poster.  20"x30", full color.

The model's audition photo.  When I saw it I still couldn't see McLaren in the face, but my friend Mary, who was here and looking at the computer monitor, said quite enthusiastically, "That's McLaren!"  I believed her...she's read Siren Song.   The specs for McLaren were fairly simple: a guy who looks to be in his 30s, muscular, and ruggedly handsome.  The model came through on all requirements, I think, even if I still can't see McLaren in the resulting photos!

Don took about a dozen photos of McLaren and the silver clue.  An important event in the story.  I shake my head over Don's memory.  Not only does he know events in the books but he also knows character names (like the Mahmoods in A Terrible Enemy -- something I've long forgotten!!!)  Don can tell you details, what happens in the plot....  When we were discussing a few ideas about poses for the photo shoot, Don would say something like, "I've got a fallen tree on my property.  I'll saw off some of the limbs and I can use that for the scene when McLaren moves the trunk with his car bumper."  Again, I shake my head.  How many people would remember that incident?
A great shot of McLaren at a stonewall.  I figured he would have muscular arms now even if he didn't as a cop.  A year of shifting stones about would either give you a nice set of biceps or land you in the chiropractor's office!
This gives you an idea of what the poster looks like, at least.  I think it turned out very nice.  I may update it when Swan Song comes out, but that's not till next April.  Anyway, it's certainly fun having McLaren around!  It pulls him into the realm of a real person, something I still can't feel even after writing eight Taylor & Graham books.  Every person who has seen McLaren's photo tells me yep, that is McLaren.  I probably got the most emphatic 'vote' for the McLaren model from my police detective friend David.  I have no idea if it's because David partnered with me in actually creating the McLaren character, but David swears this is McLaren, or very near to him.  Intelligent, but a rough side to him and a sharp edge that stands no nonsense from anyone.  Who, by indifferent means, gets it right for the victim and the victim's family.  I think, looking at the face of McLaren in these photos, that characteristic comes across.  And I hope the readers of the McLaren mysteries think so, too!

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