Sunday, June 23, 2013

Who is Shari Markham? By PJ Nunn

Authors are asked all kinds of questions. One of the most frequent is, “Where do you get your ideas
for characters?” Or “Is your protagonist really you?” I’m still new at the author end of the game, having publicized other authors’ books for more than 15 years now (no worries, I’m still at it!), but I know exactly where I found Shari Markham, the protagonist of my new book, Angel Killer.

Years ago, when my children were still small and I was a high school administrator, I was also pursuing my graduate degree in counseling psychology with specialization in criminal justice. I served an intensive practicum and internship that required my counseling as many as 30 individuals a week, most survivors of child sexual abuse, and I also served as a liaison to the local police department in the Youth Criminal Investigations Division. Somehow or other I managed to get appointed to the county child welfare board and ultimately served the board for seven years, the final two as chairperson. Needless to say, I was busy and often completely overwhelmed with abuse issues, past and present.

There came a time when I couldn’t sleep because of the dreams that haunted me. Victims were everywhere and suspects got off all the time. The things that are perpetrated upon children, even in small towns, most people don’t want to know. And yet, as long as they’re hidden, how can we stop them?

I’ve always written, from the time I was a small child. Reading a good book gives opportunity to escape boredom or all manner of ills. For me, writing does the same. When I became pregnant with my fifth and last child, I had to cut back. I simply couldn’t continue working under that kind of stress, but you never forget. When I sat down to write, I didn’t know what the story would be. I created a character named Shari who, like me, worked for a while with child protective services, then opted to get her graduate degree in psychology and go to work for the police department, hopefully to make a difference.

So in some ways, I guess she’s like me, but she’s not me. One of the best parts of being an author is I can easily strengthen someone’s weakness. And I can exercise a measure of control over the outcomes one can never control in real life. Shari is part me, and part who I’d like to be. I hope she’s part you, too, and that you’ll find her engaging and very real. Perfect she’s not, but when she comes across a case in which wrong has been done to a child, she’s relentless in seeking justice and healing for the families involved.

Angel Killer is not a cozy mystery, as you probably have already deduced. It’s the first in a series of Shari Markham Mysteries. I hope you’ll meet Shari and her family and friends, and that you’ll like her enough to enjoy several more books to come!


Bookworm said...

I really enjoyed your post! Very interesting :) ~ Suzi said...

Thanks a lot for your post. I think this book is pretty nice. Want to read it.

PJ Nunn said...

Thanks ya'll!

Kit Sloane said...

Wow, PJ, it's been a LOOOOOONG time, but remember back then and starting out and all that! Congrats on your book!!!


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

This sounds like a great and much needed book. And I'm also glad to be connecting with you like this.

PJ Nunn said...

Kit - so good to see you! It has been awhile hasn't it? And we're still so young =)

Marilyn, always nice to connect with you. Thanks for your encouragement!

marja said...

I like the character (Shari) you described and they characters so often make the book. It was nice to learn a little about you, too. Thanks for sharing!
Marja McGraw

Beryl Reichenberg said...

I can appreciate how busy you must have been when you were a mother, school administrator and working on your counseling degree. It is nice you now have time to write. Best wishes on your new book, Beryl