Guest Chick Nancy Lynn Jarvis: Sometimes Characters Surprise Their Creators

Leslie Karst here. I’m pleased to welcome today Nancy Lynn Jarvis, one of my fellow members of Santa Cruz Women of Mystery, whose new book, The Glass House, has just been released. And I’m also tickled that, back in my days as a research and appellate attorney, while spending long days researching cases at the county law library, I too became friends with the fabulous Pat, now featured as the protagonist of Nancy’s new PIP Inc. mystery series.

In the new series I’ve just started, I fear my second banana may become the apple of my eye. It’s a shock to me because my protagonist is based on the most fascinating woman I know.

Until now, I’ve always written real estate mysteries. I was a Realtor for almost twenty-five years, so I could write with authority about the real estate world and use all the right real estate jargon to make the books authentic. But after seven books, it was time to change things up and find a new protagonist.

I’ve been trying to get my friend Pat, a retired law librarian who, while not an attorney, knows so much about the law that she successfully argued a precedent-setting case before the California Supreme Court, to write a book about being an unlicensed PI, which is what she does now-a-days. She is a mesmerizing public speaker with so many stories to tell, it seemed like she should put pen to paper―or fingers to a keyboard―and create fabulous stories. The only problem is she hates writing.

I convinced her to tell me her stories and how she would investigate them―the authenticity part―and I promised to make up stuff to turn them into cozy-style mysteries. Our first collaboration in what will become PIP Inc. Mysteries, The Glass House, worked just like that.


I knocked a few years off of Pat’s age, made her single, and gave her a Dalmatian named Dot and a cat named Lord Peter Wimsey and created a murder done with super glue and a kiln. She gave me details about how to conduct an investigation and get information from reluctant funeral directors. Perfect.

The only problem is I decided Private Investigator Pat should have a sidekick. I made up Syda Gonzales for the role of BFF and partner in…whatever. Syda is a die-hard matchmaker who repeatedly pushes Pat toward hand-picked paramours much to Pat’s chagrin. She’s a would-be artist who tries different mediums to express herself, always with less than stellar results.

Syda paints, does glass art, and in the course of the book, decides perhaps she should become a writer. She gets to write the cheesiest descriptions―Private detective Rowdy Dick looked down at the body that washed up on shore with crabs clinging to it and chewing on the flesh on its face. He turned to his stacked red-haired secretary and said…―and deal with writer’s block for her noir-style book by wearing a fedora. She gets to be a writer cliché and is even more fun for me to portray than my heroine, Pat.

In a review, a reader said Syda made him laugh. If readers like her and I love writing her, what does the future hold? PIS Inc. just doesn’t have the same ring that PIP Inc. does.

Readers: Do you have a favorite side-kick in a series who you think deserves star billing?


Nancy Lynn Jarvis headshopNancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years before she fell in love with writing and let her license lapse. 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, a philosophy she applies to her writing, as well. She has written seven Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries; a stand-alone novel, Mags and the AARP Gang, about a group of octogenarian bank robbers; edited Cozy Food:, 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes, and a short story anthology, Santa Cruz Weird; and even done a little insider’s book, The Truth About Hosting Airbnb, about her first year as a host.

The Glass House is the first book in a planned series of PIP Inc. Mysteries. Now she’s trying to figure out when to work on another series she’d love to do called Geezers with Tools, about two older handymen who will solve mysteries in the course of doing their work, and is setting up writer retreats at her house.

21 thoughts on “Guest Chick Nancy Lynn Jarvis: Sometimes Characters Surprise Their Creators

  1. Sidekicks get to be fun because they don’t have to carry the weight of the story. If you love your supporting foil, keep her where she is. Or maybe I’m just too big a fan of librarians to even think about letting them fall to second billing…

    Congratulations on the new book! Sounds like such a great read.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Hi! What an inspiring post!
    Sometimes I like the sidekick better than the protagonist, but I don’t think they should ever get top billing. Nope! Takes away from the story for me.
    Thanks for the fun descriptions.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I was curious about the origin of the word side-kick, so looked it up: The term originated in pickpocket slang of the late 19th and early 20th century. The “kick” was the front side pocket of a pair of trousers, and it was known as the pocket safest from theft. Thus, by analogy, a “side-kick” was a person’s closest companion.

    Congrats on the new release, Nancy–it’s sounds SO fun!! And thank so much for visiting the Chicks, today.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Your PIP Inc. Mysteries sound wonderful, Nancy, and Syda sounds like quite a character. I find the sidekicks are usually the most fun to read and write about, because they can typically get away with more bizarre behavior than the main character.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It was so much fun joining the Chicks today. Thanks for letting me share this post. Leslie, Pat shared so many of the little things we love about her for the book. My Pat wears bling to the beach and her sandals belong to the real Pat. What she carries in her briefcase (hint: Pat likes it because of the flames) is also straight from The Pat we know and love, although I suspect you didn’t know this about her.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. He’s based on a real cat with that name who was a pet. Dot, Pat’s Dalmatian, is also based on a real dog. I guess I stole several identities for this book.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I have wanted to name dogs Nigel and Basil after my favorite movie sleuths, but we adopt rescues who already have names. I did change a reddish lemon Basset boy from Copper to Colin, because it was close enough I thought.
        The book went on my TBR list.

        Liked by 2 people

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