Bear with me if I’ve said this before, but The Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries were born out of a challenge by my then-publisher to write a protagonist who looked and acted more like a real person, not a model. Could I do it? Did I even want to? Did I want a heroine who wasn’t typical of many a detective story? After I thought about it, the answer was yes! I wanted to write about a smart woman who wasn’t Mad Men classically feminine. And of course, I wanted it all. She should like herself and be comfortable in her own skin.
So along came Persephone (Percy) Cole. Percy is 35 years old and considered middle-aged by ’40s standards. She’s also a single mother, overweight, and at 5’11” is extremely tall. Sound like a winner? But Percy Cole is! Because as Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” And Percy has attitude up the wazoo. She exudes self-confidence. She’s smart and savvy. She’s a no s–t lady. I just love her.
They say you don’t know what you’re writing until you’ve written it. Well, little did I know that by making Percy as large if not larger than many men of that era, she was able to compete in a man’s world in every way, including physical intimidation, a very ’40s-PI-Noir thing. Percy doesn’t use physical threats all the time, but she’s not above it. Her grabbing some lowlife by the scruff of the neck and hauling him off to jail is just plain fun to write about. And readers seem to like her fearlessness, her sense of self, of not compromising, which is all done with humor, style, and a touch of whimsy.
Yes, Percy’s tough to the core, but I do try to show a bit of softness through her dealings with her mother, father, kid sister, and in particular, in the raising of her eight-year-old son, Oliver, the child that gives her life meaning. Frankly, it is a rare woman who does not deal with family and family matters, no matter how tough they are. Even Wonder Woman (see linked article). Of course, Wonder Woman is a real hottie. But Percy has her moments; she has her moments. There are men who fall for this redheaded broad with her wicked sense of humor, who knows how to make her way in the world. All very enticing. All very Percy Cole.
Hotshot Shamus, book 4 of the Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, debuts on May 7th and at a preview price of $2.99. Yayyy!
3 thoughts on “On The Writing of Percy Cole, an Off-beat Heroine by Heather Haven”
Can’t wait to read Percy’s latest adventure!
Capturing someone who seems real, not an idealized version of a main character, is truly a challenge. It sounds like you succeeded with Persephone. Good luck with your new book.
What a great character! Congratulations on another published book!
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