Probably the coolest thing about writing fiction is you get to make shit up. And when it comes to full length mystery novels, there’s a whole world to be created. Like most writers, I choose to draw on what I know. So it was only natural to pick a protagonist that has characteristics with which I’m familiar. And now, in my early sixties, I know all about Lance Underphal’s aging process, his aches and pains. But it didn’t start off that way.

Psychic Murder Investigator, Lance Underphal Switched Genders

My early ideas for a reluctant psychic investigator were formed around a female character in her late forties, named Jena Halpern. Many a story idea revolved around her as protagonist and she’s in several  of my short stories, partial and complete. And I may yet develop her in other mystery stories. Here’s a couple tastes of what Jena’s all about.

Two Sons Rising Excerpt

Dan Kropp wasn’t sure what to expect when he went to the airport to pick up Ms. Halpern. He imagined everything from a voodoo witch-doctor to a gypsy fortune teller. As he scanned the baggage carousels, she strode up unnoticed, her conservative dress and professional manner catching him off guard. He found himself a bit put off, as though she’d disguised herself to trick him. He guessed her to be in her late forties to early fifties, trim, plain featured, except for a subtle attractiveness. He wasn’t quite sure—maybe a hint of vulnerability. Upon closer inspection he wondered if it might be her eyes. Their liquescence fairly shone as though she stood stark naked before him, completely exposed, yet embarrassingly timid. Her open gaze pulled him in, capturing him, holding him carefully, as though a dove in trembling hands. Clouds of skepticism briefly parted before him. And for an instant, he grasped at a fleeting idea—she was no charlatan.

Excerpt From Skin Game

As David Freeberg opened the passenger door, he caught the strain in Jena Halpern’s eyes.  Something about this timid soul—more than the dark circles framing her eyes, more than vulnerability which she wore like an overcoat—made him more than sympathetic. He cared in ways he couldn’t easily describe, as though she was his wayward sister in need of protection. And maybe something more . . . Maybe her fragile grace was truly in his hands. He reached for her hand. “Com’on Miss Halpern. It’ll be okay.” She offered up doe eyes to meet his, flooding him with embarrassment. That was stupid. Why did I say that? He knew it would be anything but okay.

Jena let the lieutenant lead her up the driveway. They passed several uniformed officers standing in the carport’s harsh light. The pall of death permeated the scene like invisible poisonous gas. She knew what awaited her inside and felt the bile burn as it rose up the back of her throat.

Resurrect Jena?

Who knows? Let me know your thoughts.