The Q.C. Davis mysteries are not message books. They're plot-driven, follow-the-clues detective mysteries. But I do begin each with a core idea.
In The Worried Man, it was the pain of death by suicide as well as Quille’s family history. In The Charming Man, the concept of friends, many of whom are like family, trapped in an apartment complex during a blizzard sparked the story. And for The Fractured Man, I focused both on long-lost childhood friends and how the urge to recruit others to a cause (there, a self-help organization) affected relationships.
The Troubled Man was different. (Click here for a book summary.)
Why A Difficult Woman
Because what came to me first was one character. Ivy. A woman not well liked to say the least. One whom most people found difficult to deal with. So much so that one of her daughters refused to live with her any longer.
But I also saw her as a woman who didn’t act out of bad motives. Instead, when she was alive, Ivy focused so much on controlling her environment and the people around her that she couldn’t let those she loved be who they were.
If a woman like that were killed, I imagined, there would be many suspects. And yet nothing she did was so over the top that it singled out any one person as the likely killer.
What also intrigued me was that Quille needed to get to know Ivy after she died. To solve the murder, she had to piece together this woman’s life without ever meeting her.
A Need For Control
I don’t know quite why Ivy speaks to me so.
Maybe it’s her need to control. Because I share that need. The difference is that I recognize it’s futile. My best shot at controlling anything is writing novels, where I get to create the whole world. (Maybe that’s why I love it so much?) Yet even there, sometimes characters take me places I didn’t expect.
In life outside of writing, I aim to be the opposite of Ivy. I try to listen, to offer support, to be kind. But a little of me envies Ivy. Not her death, of course, but her life. Full steam ahead, do what she wants, take no prisoners.
Parents vs. Children
And then there’s family.
Quille investigates because Ivy’s younger daughter asks her to. Though she found her mother challenging, the daughter felt compassion for her. She also was motivated – probably more so – by her father.
As the soon-to-be ex-husband, police fasten on him as a suspect and arrest him. He has no money to pay his bond so he remains in jail while Quille investigates. His predicament allowed me to explore some parts of the criminal justice system in the United States that many people never see or think about.
And to see it through the eyes of someone who loves the accused man and has every faith in him.
You might have noticed that parents and children are a theme that runs through all the Q.C. Davis mysteries in one form or another. Whether it’s Quille’s real conflict with her mother, her relationship with her substitute mom (Carole, owner of the coffeehouse where Quille often hangs out), or how victims and perpetrators of the fictional crimes related to their caregivers, each book looks at how parents and children affect one another.
The odd thing is I didn’t necessarily see that until I started writing you this email. So thanks for helping me figure that out. And I hope you've been enjoying the mysteries.
Lisa M. Lilly
P.S. If you haven’t checked it out already, click the links below to learn more or buy The Troubled Man.