Balancing murder and family is a true skill -- as long as you aren't thinking about killing someone you're related to.
The 12th book in the Jolie Gentil series is underway: working title is "Sticky Fingered Books." Among the many facets of their lives. Jolie handles ordering food for the day care center their four-year old twins attend and Scoobie runs a poetry group for the kids.
Say what? Kids like to rhyme, and Scoobie is a natural clown. Most kids like clowns, as long as the make-up is friendly.
These activities are fine, but readers pick up a mystery to find out how a crime gets solved. They like some excitement along the way and a bit of humor is almost expected now.
As characters evolve, readers may come to care about them, their friends, and families. But not if a good murder mystery takes a back seat.
Another key factor is the amount of danger parents would put themselves in to solve a crime. Pretty dumb for a female sleuth to set her husband and kids up to be without her. Ditto for daddy.
Then there is the question of aging the kids. Mine are twins (Lance and Leah) because I find it easier to manage (in a book at least) two kids of similar age rather than a single kid. Much less need to entertain them, and more opportunity for humor.
Mine entered the stories at age three and are now four. I don't believe they will age much more, for several reasons. Early thirties is okay for how I see Jolie and Scoobie. Forties not so much. Too staid.
The biggest reason to keep them young is that as they aged some older characters would eventually have to die. That or live to be 100+ and eat only soft food. Neither appeals to me, and I think readers would bombard me with bad reviews if Aunt Madge died.
I've written several other books since the 11th (Underground in Ocean Alley). In retrospect, one reason I've avoided #12 is addressing the kid factor. Now, it's time.
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