I wrote The Scent of Murder in just six weeks. Granted, editing and polishing took longer, but the first draft was written at a white hot speed at all hours of the day and night. I’ve never written a book that fast before (and unfortunately for me, I’ve never written one that fast again.)
Since I was writing at such a pace, research was strictly to be avoided. I’m the type who goes to look up the meaning of the word and two hours later, I’m studying the flora and fauna of Tasmania through a series of tangential website links.
So when it came time to add a gay designer to Kantor’s department store, I used the source material I had at hand (also known as me.) Shawn, while very much his own character, has a number of my minor traits that I used to flesh him out on the page. While I only worked briefly in retail and hated every minute of it, I imbued him with some of my more quirky characteristics.
Shawn and I both hate the sight of blood. The first time that I had to have a blood test I passed out and hit the table so hard that it left a mark on my forehead for days (which might explain my desire to write!) The sight of any blood leaves me on the floor, no matter how little or whose it is. Shawn doesn’t like blood either, which means he’s definitely not going to like being in this mystery. That’s why in the early scenes of the book he’s face down and not feeling well. Marissa, the main character, takes it as a possible sign of guilt early on, but changes her mind quickly.
I also gave Shawn my love of pop culture. That’s why he can rattle of which of the royals has been seen naked, and he can discuss the various theories of who was Jack the Ripper, including those where the motivation was animus to women. Shawn is at his best here, using pop culture history to support his theories of the crime, and giving his opinions on the relative attractiveness of all of the characters.
Shawn also has a knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, which is something he came to through me as well. My lack of timing is legendary, where I seem to step into situations when three minutes either way would have allowed me to miss the entire drama. Shawn runs into trouble, because he suffers from the same malady.
Without giving away a minor plot point, I also used to stash things into eat inside the retail displays at work, in case I needed something to munch on between sales. I used all of this knowledge in creating a funny and yet memorable character in the book.
While Shawn doesn’t appear in the first book in the series (Love Stinks), he does make an appearance in the third book in the series, which I’m currently polishing.