By Kate O’Connell
One of the joys of being able to call myself a writer is that there are no limits to what I can write. When in conversation with someone new, the inevitable, what do you do, usually followed by, what do you write, constantly stumps me because I write in several genres.
However, I hold my Maddie Fitzpatrick Mysteries dear to my heart because they surfaced at a time when I was struggling with writing and publishing. I had shied away from the persistent advice of write what you love to read and write what you know, unable (or perhaps, unwilling) to develop an idea that would incorporate the two ideas. When I finally decided to give it a whack and do just that: write what I love to read; mysteries, and write what I know; dance history and Argentine Tango, the Maddie Fitzpatrick Dance Mystery series was born.
I‘ve found so much pleasure writing about Maddie and her life as a dance teacher because it pulls me back to the dance floor. I love Argentine Tango, the music, the atmosphere of the Milonga, the characters that show up week after week to move to something that they often can’t articulate but that they know is important. Argentine Tango has a way of taking over your life once you begin. Something you thought was going to be a once-a-week class in order to meet new people, or date, or loose some weight, turns into a time and place to explore parts of you that you never knew existed. It’s a complex dance that incorporates not only bodies moving through space but a deep connectedness to the person you are dancing with, a person you may have just met and who you may never see again after the dance. Argentine Tango is a lesson in both making these relationships and letting go, so in essence it is about the beauty in their transient nature.
I’ve also found that I love writing about the area I lived during my teenage years, (a town unsurprisingly similar to the fictitious town of Pembroke) in Northern New Jersey. Cozy mysteries lend themselves to settings where neighbors and co-workers know a little too much for comfort and eccentric characters insinuate themselves into your life whether you want their company or not. I’ve had delicious fun using the setting, (Madison, if you want to know) and maybe even a person or two (though of course, all resemblance to actual people is purely coincidental) to tell Maddie’s story. I began with Maddie returning to Pembroke after a 15-year hiatus in California after a disastrous career as a choreographer on a reality dance show in Dying to Dance, continued her story and efforts to support herself while just possibly getting back together with an old boyfriend in Dead Man Dancing and am currently working on what comes next for Maddie in Dance or Die. All the while Maddie’s teaching classes in the dance that she loves because, as she says, she hasn’t let a little murder get in her way yet.