Erin Dances The Flawed Dance

When writing The Flawed Dance, I am back into Erin’s world. I’m assuming this happens with most writers. We are involved with our characters. We live their experiences in our heads, cry when they cry, laugh when they laugh. How otherwise can we show their feelings, their happiness or sadness, their triumphs and failures?

I know Erin well. She was me – not literally, you understand, but while writing about her. Erin is the woman who is open to new surroundings. She walks into opportunity and wears the new look with aplumb. Yet in the back of her mind, deep in her heart, is the memory of what she had done to her ex-lover. She realized that everyone, no matter how good on the outside, is capable of murder. Knowing this in a sense almost frees her from fear. If she is capable of killing someone, she is also able to keep from being killed.

Erin left one world behind and only looked back to see if the past followed her. She would do whatever it takes to survive. She would enter this new world ready to take it on.  This leaves her with the freedom to explore and discover her new self. The sixties was a time of free love and free expression. She explores the dance and finds that through music and motion she is able to expose the  emotion and passion she had always suppressed in the past. Sex also allows her to express emotion and passion. She greedily accepts these freedoms and indulges in both without limits. But with such greed also comes pain.

She is attracted to men who would control her because in her mind, if they love her enough to try and possess her, she is controlling them. When she tires of being controlled,  she  rebels and  fights her way out. She will never let a man break her spirit.

Erin is my alter ego and will forever be a part of me.

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Philadelphia in the Sixties (As I remember it)

I am the author of the Niki Alexander mysteries, Less Dead and Lost Witness, whose protagonist is an ex-cop turned counselor for a teen shelter in the Montrose District of Houston, Texas.

Writing my latest book, The Flawed Dance, I journeyed  back in time to the late sixties when I lived in Philadelphia, and relived those years. Certainly not everything ison the page. I’m not writing a memoir. I decided this book was definitely going to be noir and let my imagination flow free.  Noir is defined by most as starting out dark and getting darker. Erin Matthews, my lovely young protagonist, makes some bad choices. They seem to make life easier at the time and be more likely to get her want she wants, but it doesn’t do her any good. Most of all she needs to survive. She is constantly looking over her shoulder expecting danger at every corner. 

When she first arrived, she had few clothes and ten dollars in her pocket. This was also true of me, with the addition of a baby who I did not include in the book for obvious reasons.  Erin was escaping from her lover, a man thirty years her senior and on the run from the mob since she met him. Before she leaves him, she tries to kill him. Luckily, she doesn’t succeed. But guilt is a formidable opponent and won’t let go easily, if ever.

She moves in with a man of color, the older brother of a co-worker in the New Jersey restaurant where they were both employed. The co-worker braves fate to drive her to Philadelphia in the hopes of getting a physical reward from her. That was not forecoming and he leaves on a sour note. It is November and the weather is cold and windy and she has only her white plastic go-go boots and some summer clothes. She’s never lived where it snowed.

Her second roommate is a flighty hippy who leaves in the middle of the night with her boyfriend to move to Alaska, taking everything in the apartment except the furniture. Erin’s new boyfriend has a solution – a credit card that he says she could use. She is arrested after trying to buy a few supplies with the card. Faced with rent, living expenses and lawyer fees, Erin becomes a go-go dancer in addition to the other jobs she has. She gets involved with the mob which really complicates her life.

Living those years again with Erin brought a new awareness to the life I am living now. Married six times, I have been divorced for over fifteen years. Those years have been busy with my children and the writing life. I am the past president of the Southwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and serve as Treasurer and Editor of the Sleuth Sayer, the chapter’s newsletter. I am also the President of The Final Twist Writers and a member of Sisters-In-Crime and the International Thriller Writers. So I am active and life is crammed full.  I am in my sixties, but have not accepted that fact. Not physically or mentally.  I’m not near dead yet in any aspect of living or feeling.

But more about such an existence and the complications that follow in my next post.