Author Lindsay Downs joins us today to celebrate National Family History Month. He shares how he uses family names and some traits from loved ones that have passed as a tribute to the footsteps they took in life. Join us as Lindsay shares this fun tale of using family names with a bit of a twist.
Mom and Dad May be Gone but they Live On in My Series
I have been writing since 2006 and published starting in 2008. From then until the summer of 2017 I never wrote a genre where two important names, to me, would fit in comfortably. That happened last year when I decided to branch out and write historical murder mystery.
With the year and location selected—Los Angeles, CA in 1940 I had the perfect venue to use the names. An homage to my parents. Norton and Marguerite. Very rarely do I use her full name but call her Maggie instead.
In the past when I started writing a book I usually developed my main characters as I went along. This time was different. Relying on my memory to an extent I used many traits of my parents to create the fictional Norton and Maggie.
I also needed to give them an occupation. In real life my dad was a full professor in Medieval History but I wanted something more exciting. I made Norton a private detective, with a working relationship with the LAPD and FBI.
Mom had been a housewife, mother and nurse. For Maggie I made her Norton’s gal Friday who he, spoiler alert-marries in the first book, The Case of the Boarding House Murder.
Dad smoked so does Norton. Even though mom didn’t smoke I have Maggie enjoy the occasional cigarette.
My parents rarely partook of liquor so do Norton and Maggie. They prefer tonic water instead when they visit The Domino Club to listen to jazz, while mom and dad enjoyed classical music.
Over time I added more characters. These are secondary but equally important. However, their names were just that, names. In Book Two, The Case of the Missing Jewelry, I bring in another important name. Alicel. The “Alice” part is my grandmother’s first name and the “l” is the middle initial of my sister.
At the end of Book Five, Thee Case of the False Arrest, Maggie gives birth to the first of four children. This one is named Edward, which is my grandfather and step-uncle name.
Okay, let’s jump ahead a little over forty (40) years. For you writers out there when you have a story line churning around in your mind, and won’t go away, that’s when you have to sit your butt in the chair and start writing. That’s what happened with me.
In The Case of the Unknown Shooter, set in 1983, all four Upson children are grown, and have graduated college. Two sons, Edward and Thomas, which is a variation of my brother’s middle name Thompson, had served in the military. Edward in the Army, my mother was in the Army Nurse Corps in World War 2 and Thomas in the Navy, like my father who was an officer in World War 2. Unlike them Edward flew helicopters, Huey, and Thomas the F4 Phantom. They both served in Vietnam. Alice, the second and named for my sister and grandmother, worked for the State Department before opening the European branch of Upson & Upson Detective Agency in England.
Norton Upson, Jr., named after my father and his, never served. Not that he didn’t want to but he was given a 4F classification because of a medical problem. Eventually he earned a PhD in American History.
Having the two primary characters named after my parents helps bring the fictional ones to life.
I’ve been an avid reader ever since I was old enough to hold a red leather bound first edition copy of Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake in my lap.
So it only seemed natural at some point in my life I take up pen and paper to start writing. Over time my skills slightly improved which I attribute to my English teachers.
My breakthrough came about in the mid 1970’s when I read a historical romance written by Sergeanne Golon, Angelique. This French husband and wife team opened my eyes to the real world of fiction. Stories about romance, beautiful damsels, handsome heroes and plots which kept me hooked. Of course, being a man, I had to keep my reading hidden from others as that wasn’t appropriate reading for men.
With this new found appreciation of the written word I took up other books and devoured them as a starving person would a plate of food. I them attempted to write again. I still wasn’t satisfied so I put it aside for years as other events entered my life.
Finally, in the early years of the new millennium I tried again to write and once again met with limited success. At least now I was able to get past the first page or two. Then, in 2006 a life changing event brought me back to my love, I took a job as a security officer. This allowed me plenty of time to read different genres.
My favorite was regency followed closely by mystery. As I poured through everyone I could get my hands on I knew this could be something I wanted to attempt.
Since 2012 I’ve lived in central Texas. I’m also a member of Romance Writers of America.
Where you can find me-
Facebook page- https://tinyurl.com/y74mky2b
Amazon Author Page- https://tinyurl.com/ya2hyvas