Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rules and Regulations

by Robin Allen

I love rules. Really love them. They mean that someone a) is in charge and b) has considered the likelihood of things getting out of hand and c) has put measures in place to keep things neat and orderly. I love neatness and order.

A No Parking sign in front of a convenient place to park? I drive around until a spot opens up, even though I've had to use the little mademoiselle’s room for the past hour. No bottles allowed on the beach? That's why they make Shiner Bock in a can. Clean lint filter before each use? Always. Do not remove this mattress tag? Never have, never will.

I also love working in restaurants. The intrigue, the alliances, the gossip. The fun, the friendships, the factions. With every new customer comes a new challenge, a new story—an allergy to yellow cornmeal or the latest fad diet that forbids cruciferous vegetables to be eaten with red dye number eighty-six.

So when I set out to write a mystery series, what else could Poppy Markham be but a by-the-book public health inspector who has worked every job from busgirl to manager to chef in her family’s restaurant? And when an obnoxious Michelin-rated French chef invades the kitchen—currently under the command of Poppy’s cranky, territorial stepsister—what else could happen but murder?

Poppy loves rules, too, but only the ones she can enforce. Some of the others get a little bent and banged around as she tries to discover who really killed √Čvariste Bontecou. Yes, Poppy flashed her inspector's badge in a police station, but she was trying to see her stepsister. And, okay, she used her badge to detain and lecture a litterbug in traffic, but he messed with Texas right in front of her! Rest assured, however, that Poppy never wears white after Labor Day and she does not run with scissors. So far.

As readers, are there fictional characters you love (or hate) because you identify with them? As writers, what parts of you have you given your sleuth?

This post was previously published at Murder by the Blog.


Sebastian Stuart said...

charming post. I've always felt rules were meant to be ignored, if not broken. Maybe that's why I was kicked out of two high schools and my bouts of formal employment have been few and far between. I dare you to wear white this week, it might be liberating!

Robin Allen said...

Wear white? Goodness no! Next you'll be suggesting that I run yellow lights and dangle my participles.

Keith Raffel said...

Robin, have you ever seen the movie, Dawn Patrol? About an insubordinate airman (played by Errol Flynn) who rails at the rules but then sees things (way) differently when he is put in charge. Isn't that what happens to us as we grow older and move from child to parent, etc.

Robin Allen said...

I haven't seen that movie, Keith, but I don't think I would connect with it. I was born this way.

Kathleen Ernst said...

I look forward to reading your book! Great premise, and great fun.

Beth Groundwater said...

Oh yeah, there are parts of me in every character I write, but I ain't telling which parts!

Robin Allen said...

Thanks, Kathleen!

Beth - Thank goodness we authors are so complex that we have built-in character traits.

Sebastian Stuart said...

but, Robin, you'd look so fetching in white.

Robin Allen said...

Only after Easter, Seb.