Truth to Fiction

This is author JJ Henderson checking in. I wrote the Lucy Ripken Books, and I have started this blog to share with you some of the experiences I had writing the books. What I plan to do is explain how things in my “real life” find their way into my fictional books. And throw in some other stuff along the way.

First we need to step back a few years. I lived with my spouse in New York City, and worked for a design magazine called INTERIORS. This was back in the day when there were probably 8 or 10 successful print magazines devoted to architecture and interior design in New York City alone. All of them fat with advertising. Then along came the internet and now INTERIORS and all those magazines are gone or reduced to skinny little rags. The internet changed publishing, undermining and then destroying a money-making industry that had worked for over a century.

But for several years I did work at this magazine along with a crew of other writers, many of whom became my friends. At one point six of us INTERIORS editors got bored with the routine and decided to write a book together. A murder mystery, to be written by an entity called GROUP SIX. I wrote the first chapter and handed it along. It was called DEATH BY DESIGN.

It never got finished, since we all had different writing styles and we were working without an outline or a plan. It fell apart fast. But I did find, in writing the first chapter, that I had a knack for making a mystery narrative—for setting a plot in motion—and also for writing the kind of dialogue, social satire and commentary that makes certain kinds of mysteries fun to read.

I had written fiction before—two long-winded novels—but I couldn’t find a publisher and I began to feel that I didn’t have the “serious writer” gene in my DNA. Or maybe I was just unlucky and had I found a good editor he or she might have whipped either or both of those novels into shape and made me rich and famous. But it didn’t happen. And then, DEATH BY DESIGN came along and I found writing that first chapter was FUN!

The Lucy Ripken Books began to stir in my brain.

A word about Lucy Ripken: I have been in a very good, strong relationship and marriage for several decades.  My spouse and I were married at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy many years ago, and still have the Certificato di Matrimonio to prove it.  We remain deeply committed to each other and to our relationship, which has been great from the get go. We still have a lot of fun together (I believe it was Lawrence Durrell who wrote, “after passion, women love laughter the most,”) but more importantly, we respect each other. We are equals in the game. One a writer, one a photographer, the two of us together traveled the world for years, writing and shooting for books and magazines.

Lucy Ripken is my blend of the two of us. She’s both writer and photographer. Unlike us, she is alone, and a little lonely. But then, the search for romance only adds spice to the story. It keeps Lucy moving.

The use of the JJ instead of a real name is intended to obscure the gender of the writer. Do you think JJ is a man or a woman?

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