Mystery We Write Blog Tour: Marja McGraw and Bogey Nights

Inspiration for a book can come in many forms. In the case of Bogey Nights, it came in the form of not liking a couple of details in a previous book, and a photo of an old brick house.

The inspiration for Bogey Nights – A Bogey Man Mystery, actually came from The Bogey Man – A Sandi Webster Mystery. Readers liked this character so much that I decided to give him (Chris Cross aka the Bogey Man) his own series. He walks the walk and talks the talk, but there’s a lot more to him than his uncanny resemblance to Humphrey Bogart. Beyond that, at the end of The Bogey Man Chris opened a forties-themed restaurant. After the book was published, I decided that I didn’t like the name of the restaurant (Good Joe’s Honky Tonk) or the restaurant itself. I needed a change, and so did my characters.

Consequently, Bogey Nights opens with the old restaurant burning down. As disastrous as that was, it allowed the characters to have a fresh start. Deciding that I wanted the new restaurant to be located in a renovated 1920s brick house, I began researching old homes. It was actually a photo of an old brick house that inspired the mystery in this story. The fictional house had a history, and it was a past that two amateur investigators could sink their teeth into. The things you can find left behind in an old home are amazing, especially when it’s a dead body.

This story required plenty of research ranging from what would be required to renovate the old house, what was going on in the 1940s, mode of dress and hair styles, and slang expressions for that time period. I even did some research about music of that era. Overall, most of this research was fun, while still taking time and work. As far as research about the two yellow Labrador retrievers in this story, I have day-to-day experience with two of my own Labs.

There are so many elements in a story, and I needed some interesting characters for this book. Chris and his wife, Pamela, have a seven-year-old son – and he appreciates the fact that his parents become involved in mysteries. Talking about solving a murder at school doesn’t leave him in good stead with his teacher, but his classmates admire him. Adding two Labrador retrievers put the finishing touch on this family. While not typical, certainly not an Ozzie & Harriett or Leave It to Beaver family, they have a lot going for them.

Overall, each situation inspires a new part of the story. Pamela actually tells the story, and she has a lot of fun being married to a man who has that extraordinary resemblance to Bogey. They make a likeable couple and I think they’re people that readers might wish they knew in real life.

You might think that Mr. Bogart inspired this character, but you’d be off the mark. It was P.I.s in general as portrayed in 1930s and 1940s movies who brought the Bogey Man to life. And I believe he’s here to stay.

Marilyn, thank you for inviting me in to talk about inspiration and research. Most stories don’t just pop out of the air and slap us in the face. Well, sometimes they do, but rarely.

Marja's Bio: 

Marja McGraw has past experience in both criminal and civil law enforcement, and she occasionally calls on this experience when writing her mysteries. She also owned an antique store/tea room, worked in state transportation, and recently worked for a city building department. She’s lived in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona. She writes two series: the Sandi Webster Mysteries (female P.I.), and the Bogey Man Mysteries (amateur P.I. husband and wife team), both of which take place in Los Angeles. With her love of dogs, she’s included two yellow Labrador retrievers and a half Golden retriever/half wolf dog in her stories. Her hobby is photography, and she says that writing as a job is the most fun she’s ever had. She and her husband now live in Arizona, where life is good. You can visit her website at and read her blog at

Blurbs for Bogey Nights:

Blurbs for The Bogey Man – A Sandi Webster Mystery

Marja McGraw has done it again. Get a cup of coffee, put your feet up and prepare to be entertained by her cast of characters. Someone is "dogging" Sandi Webster’s steps, as some would say -- someone who looks, dresses and talks like the late Humphrey Bogart. Sandi has two mysteries to solve. Who is the "Bogey Man" who's following her, and who committed a murder at a Halloween party? Add to this her relationship with her menopausal mother and you have a great read.
-- Linda Roberts, Author of Curiosity Kills

 ...I was glued to her (McGraw's) crisp writing with a constant dose of laughter, chills, goose bumps and intrigue. What else could you possibly need in a great mystery novel?
-- Larry Wonderling, Ph. D, Author of The Ultimate Evil

What would you do if you found a skeleton buried in a house that you wanted to turn into a restaurant? …Marja McGraw has created a fascinating mystery with unusual characters, a bit of romance, plenty of twists and turns, and dogs named Watson and Sherlock. What mystery reader could ask for more?
                          -- Marilyn Meredith, author of An Axe to Grind and other mysteries

 Marja McGraw leads us into a delightful mystery laced with a combination of intrigue and humor seasoned with a vintage flair. Her characters are fully drawn, and you feel like you know them, or would like to know them.

This is a well written book that moves along at a speedy but comfortable pace, making you want to leap from chapter to chapter so you can find out what happens next. My kind of book, and I highly recommend it!
                     -- Morgan St. James, Award Winning Author of the Silver Sisters Mysteries


Beth Anderson said…
Fascinating, Marja! I have your book and I'll be reading it soon. Best of luck, always!
Jean Henry Mead said…
I read The Bogey Man and enjoyed the characters, especially Livvie. I look forward to reading Bogey Nights.
Marja McGraw said…
Thank you Beth and Jean. I just about fell off my chair this morning when I heard the newscaster on our local TV station saying she just started one of my books and she's enjoying it. You never know when your book will pop up.

And my newest book, Old Murders Never Die, just came out this month. Good Day in Red Rock here.
4RV Publishing said…
Wonderful news from the news, Marja. I would have fallen from my chair.

marja said…
Thanks, Vivian! It's only a local station, but still... Every little bit helps.
Sharon Ervin said…
Triggers that inspire books always surprise me. The slightest thing: a fragrance, an old house, an old man, words overheard in a coffee shop.... The insignificant become motivations for characters who often introduce themselves on a page, complete with names, dialects, and foibles. Writers march to the beat of a different drummer. I'm always surprised when occasionally, we fall into step with one another.
marja said…
Sharon, So true and very wise words. Thank you for stopping in.
Jackie King said…
Wow! How exciting. Hope that everyone who listens to that program buys a copy of your book and then tells their friends!
Best Wishes,
Jackie King
marja said…
Thanks, Jackie! I appreciate your good wishes.

Popular posts from this blog

it's Not a Cozy! by Mar Preston


The Power of Identity by Donna Urbikas