The Story behind ‘The Fog Ladies,’ by Susan McCormick

THE FOG LADIES is a cozy murder mystery set in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco where old ladies start to die. Years ago, I lived in a just such a building, minus the old ladies dying. People of all ages lived there, single people like me, young families with babies, middle-aged couples, and many, many older women. Being the cozy murder mystery lover that I was, I realized my building would make the perfect cozy-type enclosed setting for a series of murders.

thefogladies_w13428_coverThe name of the book and the idea for the group of older women came instantly, very early on, before anything else about the story. This spunky group of widows call themselves the Fog Ladies because you can count on them like you can count on early morning fog burning off by midday in San Francisco. I put them together in this Pacific Heights apartment building and concocted the murders around them.

My path to authorship was circuitous. When I was young, I wanted to be a ballerina, a doctor and a writer. All together, all at once. My ballet days ended before they began at age four when my first performance’s curtsy took out the backdrop and crashed it to the floor. I tried more ballet lessons in high school, but I was far too old. So all that was left was being a doctor and a writer. The latter took me a while. Being a doctor was a straight shot, four years of medical school, three years of residency, then fellowship, then payback the military with a nine year stint in the Army because they paid for medical school. Being a writer took longer, though I’ve been plotting my stories since those ballerina days.

Along the way, with fingers flying on keyboard keys, writing magic happened. Though I try to plot and plan, my favorite part of writing is when characters I’ve created do unexpected things and get themselves into trouble. One of my characters, Enid Carmichael, discovers Starbucks lattes at the ripe old age of eighty. She loves the bitterness, the froth. I wrote that. Then she craved more, and the next thing I knew, she was stealing Starbucks coupons from her neighbor’s newspaper to feed her addiction. She did that. Not me.

One of the Fog Ladies put herself on life support, then expected me, the author, to somehow revive her. These are the joys of first draft writing, long before the difficult revision stage. My feisty Fog Ladies persevered, most of them coming through alive and ready for another cozy caper. Hopefully, that one will write itself as well, until one of the ladies writes me into a box.

Author Photo

About the Author

Susan McCormick writes cozy murder mysteries. She is also the author of Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease. She is a doctor who lives in Seattle. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in Washington, DC and San Francisco, where she lived in an elegant apartment building much like the one in the book. She served nine years in the military before settling in the Pacific Northwest. She is married and has two boys, plus a giant Newfoundland dog.


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