Do You Ever Use Real People in Your Mysteries?

Do You Ever Use Real People in your Mysteries?

The reason I’m asking, I’m contemplating doing exactly that in my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Oh, I’ve based characters on people I know or have known and made enough changes the person would never recognize him or herself.

I’ve used real crimes I’ve read about in the newspapers or someone has told me about, and changed the people and the situations enough that no one ever said they knew where my plot came from.

Once, at the request of a friend, I put her into one of my mysteries, described her as she is, and included her dogs and cat. The only thing I changed was her name. She loved it, and her friends all recognized her.  I even included her in another book because she asked.

As the result of contests, I’ve used the names of real people, but the descriptions and personalities came out of my imagination to fit the book I was writing.

In the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, (which I just sent off to the publisher) I used two real situations I knew about in the plot, but changed both radically.

Recently, I met the strangest group of people in an even stranger situation. I don’t want to say any more because I truly want to use them in the next book I’m planning. In order to make it not obvious what I’m doing, of course the names and descriptions will be much different than they are, as will be the setting.

I’m not sure I can pull this off—but the big thing I have going for me is I know none of them read my books.

I’m eager to hear what my fellow authors have to share. And readers,  have you ever recognized a real person or situation in a mystery you were reading?

Marilyn, whose latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery is Spirit Wind.

Spirit Wind cover

Blurb for Spirit Wind: A call from a ghost hunter changes Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s vacation plans. Instead of going to the coast, she and her husband are headed to Tehachapi to investigate a haunted house and are confronted by voices on the wind, a murder, and someone out to get them.

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4 thoughts on “Do You Ever Use Real People in Your Mysteries?

  1. As you know, I loved when you used my name (not my personality thank goodness!) in your latest. It was great seeing my name.


  2. With their permission, I’ve used a couple of local people in cameos in my books, such as the owner of the coffee shop in which a scene takes place. A good friend knows my series protagonist was inspired by her. When a real person inspires a character who behaves unethically or illegally, I have to make enough changes that they couldn’t recognize themselves if they read the book.

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  3. I have used bits and pieces of real people to make my fictional characters.And in my historical western romance, I have used deceased people in my books to give the books the authenticity for the time. I think you could use the group of people, just build characters that a not too similar to them if can. Present day is a little harder to get away with using real people in a story. Good luck!

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