Murder is Ugly
When Jinx Delaney agrees to spend a horse-filled, relaxing summer with her old friend and sorority sister, Brynn Brookefield, in her exclusive community, she never suspects that murder will be the second house guest. Set in a beautiful neighborhood in the Deep South among carefully restored, historic homes and nosy neighbors, Jinx finds that looks can be deceiving and murder truly is ugly.
Why your Protagonist Needs a Pet
By Price McNaughton
The key to making a story resonate with an audience is to reflect life, and a major part of many people’s lives are there pets. Animals are a great addition to stories. They help to set the scene, give the protagonist a silent sounding board, and more. Here are five reasons your protagonist needs a pet:
- The description of an animal can give meaning to a scene, even warning the reader that something is about to occur. I’m going to use a cat in my two examples below:
As I approached the closed door, a black cat appeared from the shadows as if the darkness had molded itself into a stealthy body. It now regarded me with narrowed green eyes. The cat arched its back and hissed at me before slinking away, its distrustful gaze never faltering.
As I approached the closed door, a furry black cat appeared from the shadows. It purred loudly at my approach, winding its way through my legs. Its green eyes were clear and welcoming as it stretched out to relax on the warm pavement.
Both scenes feature black cats, but the implications of the setting are drastically different. An animal can easily embody a feeling in a story or scene because you don’t have to explain an animal or its motivation. They are what they feel.
- Animals give the protagonist an audience. It’s difficult to write a compelling thought sequence that keeps the reader interested. It’s also almost impossible to make a protagonist appear sane if they continually talk to themselves for several pages at a time. A pet provides that welcome audience that the protagonist can address without reply.
- Animals can participate. I am seeing more and more stories that are either directly from or provide an animal’s point of view. Some of the animals in these stories even solve mysteries! It’s a good method for providing levity to dark story lines and to tell a story from a different thought process.
- Animals are sympathetic. People identify with animals and feel for them. When I wrote Ranger into my story line in Murder is Ugly, it was with a purpose. I plan on writing many more mysteries starring Jinx Delaney and her horse, Ranger. I see a bright future for them competing together and encountering mysteries. But even I was surprised at how much character and charisma Ranger provided to his scenes. I also found myself falling in love with another horse in the book, Banshee. While she was supposed to be a side character in Murder is Ugly, I’m finding it hard to let her go and may ultimately decide that she has to stay! Only time will tell.
- An animal can make an otherwise unkind or unlikable character sympathetic. The mean old lady or the rude detective can exhibit kindness to an animal and in doing so make themselves appear more human to the reader. This works especially well for a character that needs to be hated and disliked by other characters.
So, if you find your protagonist rambling to him or herself for several pages at a time, or unable to solve a single mystery, or even just lonely and sad, give them a pet! And, watch for those animals that make a scene come alive before disappearing into the blackness. They have a job to do, and they do it perfectly.
Who are your favorite animals in literature? How do you think they contributed to their stories?
Price McNaughton was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. A childhood steeped in the stories and legends of her ancestors as well as the southern way of life led her to carry on the tradition and become a storyteller herself. After years of traveling and working at a variety of jobs, she has finally returned to her roots and devoted herself to writing. She is the author of A Vision of Murder and Murder is Ugly as well as The Ruby Necklace (a mini-mystery).
When Jinx Delaney accepted her friend’s, Brynn Brookefield, invitation to spend the summer with Brynn and her family she expected a relaxed, fun, horse-filled getaway that would hopefully help her find direction and get her life back on track. However, upon her arrival at the Brookefield’s exclusive community, she begins to suspect that not everything is as perfect as the members of the wealthy, picturesque neighborhood would like her to believe. Jinx finds herself embroiled in a web of suspense and deceit as a series of grisly crimes sweeps through the community, revealing dark secrets and tearing apart the residents’ seemingly perfect lives. As neighbor turns against neighbor, Jinx begins to realize that when it comes to high society, murder really is ugly.
Set against a backdrop of a historic, Old South community and a high class horse barn, McNaughton weaves a riveting tale of murder and suspense, filled to the brim with twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end, while skillfully painting the ironic tale of a community whose beauty lies only skin deep.
book review blog: http://www.talebearers.com/
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. After graduating college, I trav eled and worked at a variety of jobs, most of which included horses, before focusing on writing.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
I was injured while horseback riding and ended up on bed rest. I started planning my book while bored out of my mind and it grew from there.
How do you create your characters?
They created themselves. I don’t know how else to explain it other than they just appeared, fully formed, in my mind. I will say that in the original novel there was another family. They ended up having to “move” out of the neighborhood and my novel. It was just too crowded!
What inspires and what got your started in writing?
People inspire me. I find people to be unique, but at the same time, they usually have similar motivations. Everyone’s story is different and the same, and how they deal with it is what creates their life. I started writing because I want to tell my character’s stories.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to
write (music, drinks?)
I always write at home and usually in my bedroom. It’s the quietest spot, and I can really focus there. This sounds crazy but sometimes when I’m really stuck, I’ll just lay still and let my mind wander. I always find my way around a plot twist or character flaw by doing this.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
It’s usually just a spark that ignites into a huge story the more I dwell on it.
What do you like to read?
I love reading the classics and Agatha Christie mysteries.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards
Read as much as possible and then practice your writing. I feel that everything a person needs to learn about writing is in books.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m beginning to do podcast interviews with authors and I hope that my readers will stay tuned!