Becky Masterman describes Brigid Quinn, the 59-year old protagonist of her debut novel, Rage Against the Dying, as a cross between Bruce Willis and Sarah Jessica Parker.
It turns out people are interested in female characters over the age of 30, in spite of what one agent to whom Becky Masterman initially sent the book said. In fact, people are so interested in a well-crafted mystery about a woman over the age of 30 (retired FBI Agent Brigid Quinn is 59) that Ms. Masterman’s novel was nominated for six “Best First Novel” awards given in the mystery/thriller genre. And Brigid will be back, Fear the Darkness, the second in what I can only hope is going to be a long series, will be out from St. Martin’s Press in January 2015.
In her interview, Ms. Masterman gives us some fascinating insight into how she created this unique character, including inspiration from a J. Jill catalog and a friend with long, white hair worn in a pony tail. She described Brigid as “Miss Marple she ain’t.” That’s true. Brigid has a gun and isn’t afraid to use it.
We also discussed the popularity of mystery fiction and how writers approach their craft. In Ms. Masterson’s case, it wasn’t difficult to explain; she has a manifesto. And she shares it with us here.
The Reader’s Manifesto
Courtesy of Becky Masterman
I’m about to give you, Author, a little piece of my life. No matter what you write, fiction or non, thrillers or high literature, here is what I deserve in return:
- Give me at least one character I can hang my heart on.
- Make me laugh and cry.
- Hold me in suspense by making me wait for the payoff.
- Thrill me with the unpredictability of an action I should have seen coming.
- Make me stop and gasp at a fresh way of saying something old—but don’t do it too often because that’s just showing off.
- Move my heart with compassion for a part of humanity I’ve never understood before.
- Make me know I’m not alone by expressing feelings I never knew I felt.
- Enlighten me.
- Change me.
Finally, Author, grow comfortable with failing to achieve all this as you write, for I grant you will certainly fail most days.
Photo of Becky Masterman © Neal Kreuser