Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Geezer Holloween

By Nancy Lynn Jarvis

When I was a child, Halloween wasn’t for anyone over twelve. Now children under that age are carefully supervised by their elders, attend safe events, and are hustled home before the rest of us come out to play. I’m glad Halloween has aged right along with me.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. In Santa Cruz, California where I live, the celebrations for the day are bigger than what happens on New Year’s Eve, the lead-in to Christmas, and Thanksgiving combined. Naturally, when I was writing my fourth mystery set in Santa Cruz, I couldn’t resist having the book open with a murder on Halloween night, and have witnesses described the killer as wearing a death costume so realistic that many of them wondered if it was a costume at all.

I couldn’t resist having the prime suspect, who happened to be out celebrating that night dressed as Death, be a woman in her late sixties, either. I like older woman in mysteries, be they the character who holds many clues like my eighty-six year old Mrs. Rosemont in The Death Contingency, or Olive in The Widow’s Walk League, who may be a cold blooded killer.

Older women characters have lived long enough to acquire secrets, a great element of mysteries and mystery writing, and they’ve had enough life experience to see shades of gray (not that kind of Shades of Gray) and to be more open to seeing the world around them a little differently than their younger counterparts. I’ve had so much fun with geezer women in the mysteries I’ve written, I decided it was time to dedicate a whole book to a group of characters who are all over eighty.

Mags, the leader of the AARP  Gang,  a group of renegade octogenarians  who decide to heist a bank to save the mobile home park where they live from foreclosure, says the only sensible shoes in her closet are part of a nun’s habit costume she wore for Halloween a couple of years past. She also tells her attorney that while she is a bank robber, she will not commit perjury because she “has her standards.”

I think being geezers and geezerettes gives us the freedom to be a little outlandish if we want to, to try new things, and as the blurb on the back of Mags and the AARP Gang says: “Sure they’re older, but not too old for the adventure of a lifetime, or to risk everything for the sake of friendship.” We have opportunities like, too once we become senior citizens.

So let’s start with Halloween. What’s your costume? Will you be scary, or noble? Do you plan to be a super-hero or a clown? Are you going to dress as a fanciful creature or a storybook character? Whatever you decide, remember by passing the admission age for the AARP, you’ve earned the right to be whoever you want to be. At fifty-nine, I wrote my first book. It was released on Halloween in 2008. That year I was a writer.

Nancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years and is still licensed but she’s enjoying writing so much, she may never sell another house. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare Santa Cruz at UCSC.
Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years. “Mags and the AARP Gang” represents a new direction in her writing adventure. After four Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries, Nancy put her characters, Regan, Tom, and Dave, on hiatus so she could let Mags and her gang, characters who had been forming in her mind for the past year, tell you their story.

 Nancy's Website


Nancy Lynn Jarvis said...

Hi Linda,
Thanks for having me on your Halloween blog. My husband and I just got back from downtown Santa Cruz. We had to see if The Widow's Walk League opens accurately. It does. Santa Cruz was awash with grim reapers. We were also celebrating the arrival of proof copies of Mags and the AARP Gang. This has been a great Halloween.

David said...

Nice write up Nancy. I think I just expand the wish list at Amazon.