Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Celebrating Women's History Month #3: Longest-Running Ladies

Here at Midnight Ink Headquarters, we find that the best way to celebrate Women's History Month is to talk to our authors whose books feature strong female protagonists. Every day this week, return to this blog to find out more about the ladies portrayed in our various series and stand-alone releases this year!

Don't miss our previous posts in this series!
Day 1 and Day 2.

Sue Ann Jaffarian

Sue Ann Jaffarian is the author of the Madison Rose, Ghost of Granny Apples, and award-winning Odelia Grey mystery series. Her books have been lauded in The New York Times and optioned for television. In addition to writing, Jaffarian works full time as a paralegal in Los Angeles and is widely sought after as a humorous motivational speaker. Visit to learn more about the author. 

I decided to create the character of Odelia Grey for many reasons:
  1. Since I’m a middle-aged, plus-size paralegal myself, I already had certain character traits and career information to draw upon, making it easier to kick-start the series;
  2. I felt the mystery genre was already full of women who could run 5 miles and still shoot  the label off a beer bottle while it teetered on a fence. Odelia is an ordinary woman with no super powers or talents;
  3. I felt middle-aged women were under-represented in the genre, and plus-size women definitely were. I wanted to show the mystery reading community that a fat mature woman could be smart and sexy and intuitive. She didn’t always have to be the chubby friend who watched the purses while her friends had a good time.

In book after book, Odelia is constantly called upon to dig deep inside herself and pull out strength and courage she didn’t know she possessed to help people and to keep herself and her loved ones out of danger.  This is especially true in A Body To Spare (November 8, 2015) when her mother’s life is in danger and Odelia herself is the center of the investigation. A Body To Spare also explores one of her more puzzling relationships with someone on the wrong side of the law.

When asked in interviews to sum up the character of Odelia Grey, I say:  She doesn’t see the world through rose-colored glasses, but through Groucho Marx glasses.

Jess Lourey

Jess Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries set in Battle Lake, Minn. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, The Loft, and a founding faculty member of Mystery Writers of America's MWA University. Lourey resides in Minneapolis, where she is a professor of writing and sociology. For more information, visit her online at

Mira James is flawed, authentic, and constantly evolving. Those qualities make her strong, but they also make it hard for her to relax. In February Fever (February 8, 2015), she comes face to face with a childhood fear, juggles a long-distance relationship, has to solve a murder on a speeding train, and loses someone very close to her. Her greatest strength—her ability to find the humor in even the darkest situation—is put to the test like never before in the 10th book in the Murder-by-Month mysteries.

Kathleen Ernst

Kathleen Ernst is an award-winning author, educator, and social historian. Her past work as an Interpreter and Curator of Interpretations and Collections at Old World Wisconsin inspired the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. The series won the Lovey Award for Best Traditional Mystery (The Light Keeper's Legacy) and the Anne Powers Fiction Book Award (The Heirloom Murders). Visit her online at

Chloe is the curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin, a large living history museum where I used to work.  She has survived personal loss, and derives some of her inner strength from the long-gone women she discovers through her work.  Countless women in the 19th century managed to cope with challenges and problems that are almost unimaginable today.  Their stories are inspirational.

In Death on the Prairie (October 8, 2015), Chloe and her sister Kari set off on a road trip to explore Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites.  Personal revelations (and a murder or two) challenge Chloe’s relationships with Kari, and with her cop-boyfriend back home.

Sheila Webster Boneham

Sheila Webster Boneham is the author of the Animals in Focus mystery series. Drop Dead on Recall, the first in the series, won the Dog Writers Association of America Maxwell Award for Fiction. Like her protagonist, Boneham shows her dogs in various canine sports and has founded dog rescue groups. Her nonfiction books have also won awards from teh Dog Writers Association of America and Cat Writers Association. To learn more, visit her online at or

Fifty-something and long divorced, animal photographer Janet MacPhail loves her pets, her home, her family and friends, and—just to complicate her life—Tom Saunders. Janet is a blend of the many terrific women I’ve met through the dog, cat, and horse worlds—exhibitors, trainers, breeders, rescuers, therapy-dog volunteers, advocates, pet owners. She is devoted to her animals, gutsy (have you ever faced a flock of stampeding sheep?), compassionate, funny, and determined to be her own woman while loving and being loved. In Shepherd’s Crook (October 8, 2015), she finds herself once again pulled into a murder investigation even as she makes other life-altering decisions. Let’s face it—the second half-century of life isn’t for wimps!

Return to this blog tomorrow to hear about the serie-ous (and sassy) protagonists!

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