Anne Louise Bannon is the author of the Old Los Angeles series and the Operation Quickline series. You can find out more about her on her website annelouisebannon.com, or by clicking here, see her last post here, and buy her books here.
My husband, Michael, is both amused and appalled by my body count. I know he’s amused because when he’s asked what his wife does for a living, he replies, “Oh, she kills people.” And I can see why he’s appalled. Most guys, when they come home from work, aren’t usually regaled with which character bit the dust that day.
“How was your day, Honey?”
“I killed Ordonez!” I squealed. “It was a sympathetic death. And I wiped out a whole family from cholera.”
Hey, I write a series set in the Nineteenth Century. They were dropping like flies.
Michael will sometimes joke that he lives in fear for his life, and I point out that he’s the safest human on the planet because I’m such an obvious suspect.
“But I’d still be dead,” he’ll reply.
He fails to note that the whole point of murder mystery is that the killer doesn’t get away with the deed.
In most households, when one spouse sets, say, clean dishes on a dirty surface, and the other spouse objects, there are usually cross words spoken. In our household, my husband gets Locard’s Principle thrown at him. Locard’s Principle – every contact leaves a trace – is what most crime scene investigation is based on.
I wasn’t quite as bloodthirsty when we got married. I was a newly-minted journalist focused on profiles, theatre and television reviews, and whatever other stories I could score. Michael knew I liked to read and write murder mysteries and knew that I had written a few. But I wasn’t quite as focused on that part of my career as I am now.
But late in 2014, that changed. Michael and I had been married nineteen years, and since the non-fiction part of my writing was fizzling, I decided it was time to focus on my first love. Writing mysteries. It wasn’t so bad, at first. What I think really got him was his lecture on the zanja system in Los Angeles.
Michael is the archivist for the City of Los Angeles – all the city government records are in his care. And from the Mexican era all the way to the early Twentieth Century (when Mullholland raped the Owens Valley), the city was irrigated with a bunch of ditches, or zanjas. Zanja is Spanish for ditch. The people in the city had to subscribe every month. In his talk, Michael told about how you’d go to the Zanjero (water overseer) at the end of the month, go back to the office the day after for your receipt. Then the Zanjero’s men would come out and open the sluice gate into your zanja. Michael, being an expressive public speaker, told how the water would rush in, and…
Come on. I write murder mysteries. Of course, I was thinking what a great time for the stiff to show up. Which eventually became Death of the Zanjero, book #1 in the Old Los Angeles series. Michael was non-plussed to say the least. After all, I had just dumped a stiff into the middle of his lovely lecture. But he got me started on my research, anyway, and has been enormously helpful.
Of late, he’s been hearing endlessly about cyber crime, thanks to my latest release, Running Away to Boston, which is a tech thriller. This, by the way, has worked in his favor. He’s now safer online than he was before. So it’s not all stiffs all the time in our household. Just often enough that he can say that his wife kills people for a living.