Continuing the history of how my books and stories came about…
My thoughts centered on a private investigator for my main character. I thought of using the Sam P. Peterson character from years before, but I’d attended a lot of tournaments and camps and classes and saw all of these talented and beautiful women in the sport of taekwondo and I knew I had to have a woman as the protagonist. The name Mallory Petersen, again, came easily to mind. I changed the spelling of the surname to match the last name of a guy I worked with in Illinois.
Mallory was a Fourth Degree Black Belt who lived in Pleasant Hill, owned a martial arts school on the south side of Des Moines (I can show you the strip mall where her office is-at least until the next book), and had a private investigator’s office in downtown Des Moines along Locust Avenue. The actual building where I put her office is no more. I think it was renovated to be another business. I can still picture the outside. I put her on the second floor with an art gallery run by an elderly Jewish man on the first. The office manager/secretary/friend was an enigmatic man a few years younger than Mallory’s 29.
I created a character outline listing all of her likes and dislikes, many of them based on mine. Doesn’t drink coffee but enjoys Dr Pepper. She’s blonde, blue-eyed, 6’, gorgeous. Basically, she’s me except better looking and a better martial artist.
So, I wrote a story where she finds the body of her murdered boyfriend and discovers his secrets. I wanted the book to be the first in a series with a hook title. You know, like Grafton did with hers. A is for…, B is for…. I thought I stick with the Greek alphabet, so the first one was called Alpha. I figured I could include alpha references throughout. Ditto with the other titles.
I wanted Mallory to be quirky, with the main case being serious, but having her take on goofy cases. Following cheating spouses and boyfriends/girlfriends with those being unique in their crazy situations.
In the original Alpha, I had her well-known by many of the nation’s other fictional investigators and they all meet at the end for her birthday.
With the story complete, I didn’t know what to do with it. I was going along well with my martial arts, gained my second and third degrees. By the end of the century the club in Grinnell was about to begin its downhill slide to closing because the landlord neglected to inform me he had rented out the spacious third floor to a bunch of college kids…as a residence. I was able to have the second floor, about half the size, but still functional…until the landlord neglected to tell me that he had rented most of the floor to a plumbing and heating company. I didn’t know anything was going on until I walked in and saw doors installed in the walls. I was reduced again to a space where five people would have been cramped, let alone previous numbers. By then, too, many students had quit, and I closed the club sometime in 2003 or ‘04. By then I was already running the Osky club.
Anyway, let me back up. In 2000, or ’01 a Des Moines author visited the Oskaloosa library promoting his recently published book. After the event, I introduced myself and after we talked for a bit he mentioned a writers’ critique group at the Barnes and Noble in West Des Moines that met every Tuesday.
I was about to begin the next phase of my writing journey.