The protagonist of my YA mystery series had started out much older. Originally I picture her around college age and returning home. She stood on the porch of a dreary old house isolated out in the middle of nowhere. A lone porch light burned and a light from an upstairs bedroom window burned, casting dim glows into the darkness. She returned home after being gone a long time, but she knew crossing the threshold meant entering back into her parents' dysfunctional world.
As I wrote, things took an interesting turn. Her parents and relatives and their friends turned out to be offbeat, quirky, different and perhaps a little bizarre . To survive Penelope had adapted to the environment and people. She survived by going with the flow while watching out for her own survival. Here actions and reactions became more fitting to someone much younger and eventually I settled on thirteen. One friend put it as Nancy Drew meets the Addams Family.
Here is a cut from The Birthday Curse. After learning that her mother’s friend had been married four times, the woman’s step-son explained to Penelope’s persistence to know more.
“I can tell you.” Wendell stared at her through the thick lenses of his eyeglasses. “Her first husband, my father, died of food poisoning. The second one disappeared, and Miss O’Connell had him declared dead. The third one drowned.” Wendell removed his glasses and looked off thoughtfully. “They dredged the bay for three days before they found the body.” He pushed his eyeglasses back on and shook his head. “Not a pretty sight.”
Penelope tried to imagine what three days in water did to a body. Fish nibbling at its flesh. Water swelling it to the size of a small whale. Maybe something with sharp teeth swims by and chomps off something. Penelope bit her lip and shivered, deciding best not to ask for any more details.
Catch you later…