Inverview Subjects Who Made it into My Mysteries by Marilyn Meredith
When I first moved to Springville, I wrote personality pieces for the local newspaper--The Tule River Times. (This folksy weekly changed hands a couple of times while I worked for them.)
Sometimes, I was told who to interview, but most of the time I had to find someone interesting on my own. I liked to write about an old-timer one week and someone new to the area the next. This was a great way for me to become acquainted with a number of people. Some of them lived in most intriguing places, way up in the mountains, or off on a winding road that didn't seem to lead anywhere.
One of the most fascinating was a woman who lived in the mountains, down a mile long rutted road that had to be driven on by a car with a high undercarriage. She lived in a house her husband had built by hand, crafting the lumber from the trees on the property. Water and electricity were supplied by the nearby river. I didn't use her in a book, but I did use the location--made for a great hidden marijuana farm inside a barn. The barn came from another place I visited.
An artist I interviewed, who also lived way up in the mountains, became the model for a murder victim in a book.
A much loved teacher who taught into her 80s, not only answered all my questions for an article, she became a friend, and appeared as a principal of the school in one of my mysteries.
I used the life and stories of a retired deputy as the basis for another characters.
My main character in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries is loosely based on a female resident deputy I once interviewed.
I haven't based characters on everyone I wrote about--but I've used bits and pieces of looks, personalities, back-story and their surroundgs on many folks I've interviewed and come to know over the years from cowboys, various law enforcement officers, Indians on the reservation, a rich oilman, turkey farmers, many pioneers to the area, people who escaped from Southern California to try country living, even a good friend who wanted to be in one of my books and ended up in two, much to her delight.
Frankly, I'd forgotten about writing for the paper, and looking back I realize how much influence that experience had on my writing. I met so many intriguing people and drove up and down strange and sometimes scary roadways, all great fodder for my books.
Most of the above, ended up in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries. I'll tell more about the influences the people and places that influenced my Rocky Bluff P.D. series at a later time.