Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Who is Jordan Bingham?

by special guest Victoria Abbott.

That shadowy figure known as Victoria Abbott is actually a dangerous collaboration between
artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother Mary Jane, author of thirteen mysteries
in three other series. The Marsh Madness was released on September 1 which means they have
managed to stay alive during the writing of their four book collector mysteries: They expect that
to continue during the completion of the fifth, The Hammett Hex, September 2016. When not writing, they can be found lurking mysteriously on the outskirts of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada’s
capital. Most likely they will be surrounded by dogs, including Peachy the Pug.

You can find out more at www.victoria-abbott.com or www.maryjanemaffini.com


Hey! Where did that character come from?

We (that shadowy figure known as Victoria Abbott) were musing the other day about how our sleuth
Jordan Kelly Bingham came to be. The idea for Jordan was that she would be a mid-twenties grad
student who came to work for the wealthy and curmudgeonly book collector, Vera Van Alst (the most hated woman in Harrison Falls, N.Y.) That made sense for a mystery series about collecting books from The Golden Age of Detection. Vera is an irritable recluse and in a wheelchair. She isn’t the type to gallivant around the town investigating mysteries. Anyway, she has people to do that for her. Well, she has Jordan.

You may know the saying ‘Bad news for the character is good news for the author’. Sadly for characters everywhere, this is true. So naturally we had to give Jordan a ‘back story’. We needed something that would explain why Jordan came home to a small town in upstate New York instead of continuing on in grad school. What better than a conniving ex- who maxed out her credit card and cleared out her college funds? Instead of happily pursuing her English Literature goals, Jordan is reduced to moving in with her uncles and hunting for work in order to rebuild her life and bank account. Then there’s an ad for a research assistant …

Jordan is desperate to get away from her adoring uncles and her My Little Pony bedroom. We made
sure of that. We needed her to have to put up with Vera. Talk about a rock and a hard place.

When we thought about the kind of person who would work in this book, we knew we needed someone with spine. Otherwise Vera would roll right over her. We wanted someone who would appreciate the book collecting world that Vera lives in. Jordan’s education and interests did the trick. We’d been pretty mean to her at this point, so we decided to ease up. Why couldn’t Jordan enjoy life a bit? Her Uncle Mick’s signature dish is beans and franks (secret ingredient ketchup), so why not a wonderful Italian cook? We loved that idea, not only because it would make life more pleasant for Jordan and make her even more committed to her job, but because we had some great models for the character of Signora Panetone.

While we were feeling generous, we let her have cozy attic accommodations in Van Alst house, shabby chic and private. We made her an animal lover because we like that in a person and because we thought she should be stylish, yet down to earth (and we did say broke), we gave her a love of all things vintage, including her wardrobe. She’s very innovative about where she gets her clothes on a

Still we felt we needed more, something to make her a little bit different. What would make her life just difficult enough? Somehow the idea that Jordan was the first person in her large family (entirely
composed of crooked uncles) to go straight came out. We could see the dramatic possibility of this.
Young woman wants to make a living in a respectable, law-abiding way and yet, and yet …

You can see how conflict can arise in these circumstances and as we all know, conflict drives drama.
Would Vera hire someone she knew to be part of a criminal family? Not likely. Not only does Jordan
have many ‘unorthodox’ skills, she received a set of lockpicks for her Sweet Sixteen, a gift from loving uncles. She also developed a spine of steel and a cool head in an emergency. Why not drop those into the mix, sit back and see what happens?
It’s a bit of a trope to have a love interest between an amateur sleuth and a police officer. What fun if
that romance was doomed because of the criminal connections? The uncles would be horrified. The
officer would be compromised. Yessss! Let’s do it, we said.

In the course of the books, Jordan’s personality and character have grown under her own steam. She’s become a character that we’re proud of, someone we’d like to know, someone who can get herself and Vera out of a jam, and, yes, someone who just might use those lockpicks in the service of solving a mystery or saving a life. She makes us laugh and we know we can count on her.

We hope that you will enjoy getting to know her too and that you’ll also enjoy life at Van Alst House and the book collector mysteries.

Victoria Abbott has kindly offered to give a copy of The Marsh Madness to one of my readers in Canada.  Please comment below before 12:01 a.m. on Monday 21 September, and don't forget to include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. 


  1. Pep and I already have our copy of The Marsh Madness so no need to enter us, just wanted to say love that video! Xo

    1. Great! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog!

  2. Love this series, but haven't picked the newest one up yet!
    karen(dot) Kenyon (at) rogers (dot) com

    1. Thanks for reading Stuff and Nonsense, Karen!

  3. I can't wait to read March Madness! Your series is fabulous. Keep writing! We love your books. And I love the video. Rose

  4. I have The Marsh Madness, but want to say how good this blog is and lovely to read how the story-line was conceived. I knew and loved a real life Signor Panetone, though she was not Italian. It was still, "Eat, Eat!" to everyone.

  5. I LOVE the trailer, especially the soundtrack!! I've enjoyed your previous books and am looking forward to reading this one :)

    1. I love the trailer, too, Nancy. Thanks for reading my blog.

  6. Sounds like a great series, but I'm not from Canada. Since I can't win a copy, I'll just have to buy one. Thanks for the info about this author.

    1. Elaine, I'm giving away a copy to US readers, too. Go to Monday's post. And thanks for reading my blog!

  7. Thanks for all your comments! The winner of The Marsh Madness is "Karen K"

    Hugs from MJ and Victoria