Monday, October 13, 2014

A SLICE OF LIFE: Studying the Nature of People

My horoscope for today says I should “Study the nature of people today.” I interpret this to mean I should be more observant of my surroundings. This is good advice that has worked well for me in the past. 

In 1998, I decided to “become” a writer. After writing a few short stories, I started my first novel. An entirely new world opened up as I learned to see past the superficial fa├žade of scenery and society, a very slow process for me. My reward for continuing to search and research was an accompanying symphony of sounds, changing colorless events into neon-flashing experiences. 
Blood Red Hibiscus
at Queen Kapiolani Gardens in Waikiki
Everything didn’t immediately and perpetually start coming up roses, or a profusion of hibiscus. I suffered my share of what life offers all of us in our turn. Last Saturday, a close friend since 1969 died. He, and the multi-hued colors he added to the world, will be sorely missed. 

My stories reflect some of life’s unsolicited offerings of fate. Not as a means of purging myself of uncomfortable memories; after all, we are made of memories; but to explore how the process of forging steel applies to life. 

As a result, I look at people in a new light, not to judge but to enjoy. I hear the words they say as they mean to say them, filtered through their experiences, not through my own. All of this helps me to flesh out my stories while creating entertaining and multi-dimensional characters and plots.
 

In bite-sized excerpts, A Slice of Life introduces you to my writing, my protagonist’s interactions with life, and the people who share her experiences. The following excerpt includes a slice of protagonist Pepper Bibeau’s back story. 

A Slice of Life: Excerpt from FOR EVERY ACTION
In this diner scene, Pepper holds a conversation with Toby, a Chicago homicide detective she meets during an insurance investigation that leads to murder. 

“Ursula was proud of her heritage,” I said. “It’s sad to think prejudice might have played a role in her death.”
Toby sighed and we retreated into our own thoughts until restaurant activity intruded. As customers left, more arrived to place orders for the fresh catch of the day.
“What about your relatives, Pepper?” Toby asked. “Do they live in Chicago?”
“Just Uncle Fred, my mother’s brother.” I pointed toward the ceiling. “He owns this apartment building.”
“Fred Cane still owns this place?” he asked.
Surprised Toby even knew of my uncle, I didn’t correct his pronunciation of the family name. Ka-ne, two syllables, was the Hawaiian word for male, and the name of a Hawaiian god.
“How do you know my uncle?”
“It would be more accurate to say I know the building. Or at least remember it was set up for demolition back in the 50s until some guy got it dumped on him as a sales bonus.”
I smiled at Toby’s description of the windfall Uncle Fred had received.
“With the riverfront Marina Towers absorbing available tenant interest in the area,” I said, “Uncle Fred suspected the company had written off the building as a bad investment.”
“He did a good job of turning it around.”
“His on-site management attracted financially secure tenants, and later he used the Chicago property as collateral to purchase coastline properties around the country. He still oversees the rental units personally.”
“And you?” Toby asked.
His topic-hopping caught me off guard again. I took a moment to collect my thoughts.
“I live in Wisconsin,” I said. “I travel a lot for insurance investigations.”
“Wisconsin your home state?”
“More of an adopted state. My father’s family settled in Wisconsin. Dad was in the military, stationed in Hawaii during the late 1930s. He and my mom met in Honolulu.”
“And she was Hawaiian?”
“Yes. Well, hapa.” I almost laughed at Toby’s look of confusion. “It means part, part Hawaiian. She married my dad on the Big Island in the spring of 1940 and I was born in Honolulu the following year.”
“Hawaii to Wisconsin, quite a leap.”
Whether he meant the weather, the culture, or just the distance, I had to agree. 

 

Thank you for joining me today. The first novel in the Pepper Bibeau Mystery Series,
FOR EVERY ACTION, is on sale at Amazon.com for 99 cents.

If you have already read and enjoyed one of my novels, I would greatly appreciate your time
and effort in writing a book review for Amazon and/or Goodreads.