Let's Talk with Lois Winston
Victims are Everywhere
As a mystery writer, I always need at least one crime in every book, and to have a crime, I need a victim of that crime. Some victims are sympathetic; others deserve their fate. Since I write humorous cozy mysteries, I find it’s more fun to make the victim as unsympathetic as possible. If no one liked the victim, everyone becomes a suspect.
Those of you who are regular readers of Booklover’s Bench probably remember that I moved from New Jersey to Tennessee last year. Life here in Tennessee is quite different from my old life in New Jersey, and it’s taking some adjustment. For one thing, I’ve never lived in an HOA community and had to deal with an HOA board. They have rules up the wazoo, most of which don’t seem to be spelled out in much detail in any documents.
For example, residents are not allowed to park on the streets. You park in your garage or driveway. There are also curb cutouts for short-term parking. Nowhere is it spelled out who can park in these short-term spaces or for how long. A few months after we moved in, we were having some work done in the house. Because the workmen would need to park their trucks in our driveway, and I had a doctor’s appointment that morning, I moved my car to one of the cutout spaces before they arrived. My car was parked in the cutout for no more than half an hour before I left for my appointment.
A few days later, I received a nasty letter from the HOA, warning me that the cutouts were not for residents, only guests. I was told this was my first warning, and if it happened again, I’d be fined. Apparently, part of our HOA fee goes toward paying someone to drive around the community taking pictures of offending vehicles. Don’t ask me how they knew it was my car. They must have access to the county DMV computer system because we never registered our cars’ makes, models, and license plates with anyone else.
Fast forward to a year later, and I receive another nastygram in the mail stating I was being fined $100 for parking in a cutout. Nowhere did it give any indication of the day and time of my supposed offense. I hadn’t parked in a cutout since receiving the first nastygram. There also was no photo included.
I called the board president and demanded to see proof of the cardinal sin I supposedly had committed and when it had occurred. She sent a photo, which it turns out, she had taken. Inquiring minds want to know if our HOA fees are paying her to drive around the neighborhood in search of parking felons.
But here’s the kicker: not only was the photo taken while my husband and I were visiting family in California, but the offending vehicle was a white Toyota. I drive a white SUBARU!
It’s too bad Anastasia Pollack, my reluctant amateur sleuth, lives in a non-HOA community in New Jersey. However, that’s not going to stop me. Somehow, I’ll figure out a way to kill off an HOA board president in a future book. This experience is too good not to use. Every community, whether an HOA or not, has at least one resident that should serve as inspiration for a bit of authorly revenge. As they used to say in the old Dragnet TV show, “Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” In this case, only the name will be changed to protect the not-so-innocent.
What about you? If you’re an author, is there someone in your community you’ve killed off vicariously? If you’re a reader, is there someone you wish an author would kill off in a book for you?
Posted in Let's Talk, with Lois Winston • Tags: Let's Talk, Lois Winston, Victims are Everywhere | 17 Comments