"All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality -- the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape."
--Author Christopher Benson



Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Devil Made Me Do It by J.J. Murphy

I am so thrilled to have J.J here today as
 my first Guest Post of 2011.
So without further ado, here's J.J.!!

Thanks, Lori, for allowing me to guest post. Permit me to submit a thought to Dollycas’s Thoughts:
The devil made me write a book.

The book I’m talking about is MURDER YOUR DARLINGS, a humorous historical mystery that takes place in New York during the Roaring 20s. It features Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley as amateur sleuths. With quips on their lips and drinks in their hands, Mrs. Parker and Mr. Benchley attempt to solve the murder of a rival critic, exonerate the name of young William Faulkner, and save their favorite speakeasy.
Dorothy Parker

(You probably know who Dorothy Parker was. She was a writer and critic who said famous witty things, such as “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses” and “Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”)

So, now you know about the book. But you already know the devil. He is everywhere.

He’s dressed all in red. He has a high-pitched laugh. And he’s the cause of endless trouble.

His name is Elmo.

Yes, that Elmo. The Muppet from Sesame Street. Elmo made me write a book.

My twin daughters were babies—mere babies!—when this red devil beguiled them with his seemingly innocent charm. Soon the devil’s presence had invaded our house, possessed our daughters. His face seemed to be on every channel on TV, on every video and DVD.

Before long, he took over completely. Well-wishers gave birthday and Christmas gifts and, like soldiers inside the Trojan horse, Elmo popped out of colorfully-wrapped boxes: plush Elmo, Counting Elmo, and that heathen idol itself, Tickle Me Elmo.

His manic, bug-eyed face was everywhere I looked. On boxes and jars of baby food. On T-shirts and pajamas. On bottles of formula and cartons of snacks. And every time I changed those diapers—18 a day when they were infants!—his smug smile looked up at me from baby bottoms, as if the devil had put his diabolic mark on my children, claiming them as his own.

Well, that’s when he forced me to start writing my book. At first, I thought I was in control. I thought I’d write a book to spite him. It was to be my getaway. My safe haven from his tinkling piano music, his insipid chatter and his lunatic laughter.

I’d find the opposite of Elmo: Sophisticated conversation, clever and witty remarks, drinking, smoking, danger, romance, murder—all wrapped up in that “anything goes” spirit of the Jazz Age and the intellectual conviviality of the Algonquin Round Table.

And, in MURDER YOUR DARLINGS, I think I succeeded. I’m told that it’s funny, entertaining, witty and wise—and a darn good mystery too.

So, I thought I had escaped.

But the devil will have his due. He’s deviously crafty that way.

My daughters gave up on Elmo, and I thought I had escaped. They’re a few years older now. No longer babies. But now, all they talk about is American Girl dolls. A “basic model” American Girl doll—a plastic doll, may I remind you!—is almost $100. (I’ve bought living, breathing dogs that cost half that.) An American Girl doll outfit starts at $25 or $30. And don’t forget about the accessories!

Again, this is all that my daughters talk about.

Somewhere, that red devil is cackling his high-pitched laugh as he bangs on that stupid piano. Like they said about Sinatra: It’s Elmo’s World, we just live in it.

So, I’ve started writing a sequel . . . Maybe this time, I will escape.


Thanks J.J. for stopping by.  I love to have people "Escape Into Good Books", but I hope you don't escape too far away and "the devil" in whatever form it takes, keeps you writing for our enjoyment for a long time.
J.J. Murphy is an award-winning health care writer in Pennsylvania, and has been a long-time fan of Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table.

Follow the mystery at www.roundtablemysteries.com or find it on Facebook at “Round Table Mysteries”.  Visitors can go to www.roundtablemysteries.com/cast_the_movie.html to vote on which Hollywood starlet would be the perfect Dorothy Parker in the “movie.” (Right now, Christina Ricci is in the lead.) 

MURDER YOUR DARLINGS (An Algonquin Round Table Mystery) is available from Penguin/Obsidian.

One morning, legendary wit Dorothy Parker discovers someone under Manhattan’s famed Algonquin Round Table. But he’s not dead drunk, just dead. When a charming writer from Mississippi named Billy Faulkner becomes a suspect in the murder, Dorothy decides to dabble in a little detective work, enlisting her literary cohorts.

It’s up to the Algonquins to outwit the true culprit—preferably before cocktail hour—and before the clever killer turns the tables on them.

My thoughts on this book are that is must have been truly difficult to take real people and fictionalize a great mystery story while still keeping true to actual happenings in their pasts.  MURDER YOUR DARLINGS in a witty, sassy look back to the "roaring twenties" interwoven with a make-believe mystery that will have you following the clues right along with the whole Algonquin Round Table gang.

You do not have to know the history of Dorothy or Algonquin Round Table to enjoy the mystery, but if you do or don't, you may be checking the links above while reading to try to figure out what is fact and what is fiction.  J.J. Murphy has struck the perfect balance. 

You will note I have added a Dorothy Parker quote to the top of my blog, she has many.  Many you may have heard several times and may not have realized she came up up with the witty quip.  It was so much fun taking a trip back in history with Mrs. Dorothy Parker.  A trip I highly recommend.  A perfect "Escape"!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Berkley Prime Crime,  a Division of Penguin Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Anonymous said...

I think this book sounds wonderful! I love the time period and love a humorous mystery. And, boy, do I know about American Girl dolls. I have a 28-year-old that still has her Samantha doll! LOL

Dave and Tami said...

I'm about three-quarters of the way through this book and loving it! Thanks Lori for hosting this guest blog - I put a link on my blog to direct my few readers over to check it out. Thanks, J.J., for such a fun read!

Jodi said...

I cannot resist a book that was inspired by Elmo! With me, the devil was Barney!

misskallie2000 said...

My grand daughter loved Elmo and I tried to get her everyone of his items. She is 16 now so she is over Elmo, not quite over Scooby Doo and into texting..lol
I love to read a book that has mystery, humor and a great story. JJ's book sounds like it has all of these and more. Would love to win. Thanks for the great interview and your review.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

fredamans said...

This was a really fun post. Thanks to you and the author for posting and hosting!

Jennifer said...

I am so glad I saw this. It sounds wonderful.