Meet Charlie Kingsley: The Character that Never Gave Up

Of all the characters I’ve written about, I can honestly say that Charlie is in a league of her own.

When she first came to me, she didn’t even have a name—she was simply the dead aunt who left Becca her house in her will in the beginning of It Began With a Lie (Book 1 of The Secrets of Redemption series).

Eventually, I gave her a name, Lottie, which wasn’t right (she definitely gave me an earful about it). And even though I don’t write paranormal books, she still ended up becoming a force to be reckoned with, appearing in Becca’s dreams to guide her and give her advice.

As I wrote the first three books in the series, Charlie informed me I needed to write her story, about how she first came to Redemption, Wisconsin. So, that became Books 4-5.

Once I published those, I assumed I was done with Charlie.

That was not the case.

A few months later, I got the idea for a Christmas murder mystery starring Charlie. The Murder Before Christmas was published on November 9, 2021, and it launched a whole new cozy mystery series called The Charlie Kingsley Mysteries. (Of course!).

To celebrate the launch of Book 2, Ice Cold Murder, (with Book 3, Murder Next Door, on the way) I thought it was time to have a little public heart-to-heart with Charlie. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

Of all the characters I've written about, Charlie Kingsley is in a league of her own. Check out my first public interview with her. Click To Tweet

MPW: Thanks for doing this with me.

CK: Of course. You and I are in this together, after all.

MPW: That is true. So, when did you first realize I was … ‘underutilizing’ you? I guess that would be the best way to describe it …

CK: (Chuckles.) So, first off, I think ALL characters feel underutilized. But what it comes down to is the lengths the characters are willing to go to get noticed. For me, it was about persistence. You kept wanting to stray, and I had to keep reigning you back. Remember that fairy tale retelling project that went nowhere for ten months?

MPW: Um …

CK: You spent ten months writing the first book, and you barely got halfway through the first draft!

MPW: That isn’t one of my prouder ‘moments.’

CK: That’s an understatement. And you were just so stubborn. It took you getting an eye infection during the pandemic before you would slow down long enough to realize the project you should be working on was my story in The Secrets of Redemption series.

MPW: Okay, but give me some credit. I pivoted last summer to start on The Murder Before Christmas pretty quickly.

CK: Yes, you’re improving. Not perfect yet, but definitely getting better.

MPW: Speaking of The Murder Before Christmas, when did you realize the spin-off series was going to be a cozy?

CK: I always knew it was going to be a cozy. I’m not sure why it took you so long to get on board.

MPW: Well, for one, the original series was a psychological suspense.

CK: Yeah, but there are cozy elements in it. Especially in Book 2, This Happened to Jessica. But they’re all mystery-driven—they take place in a small town with a repeating cast of characters, and they’re clean.

MPW: That’s true.

CK: So, with The Charlie Kingsley Mysteries, it just made sense to step fully into the cozy world.

MPW: When you put it that way, it does make sense. So, there are now two books in the series: The Murder Before Christmas and Ice Cold Murder

CK: Don’t forget about the prequel short story, A Grave Error.

MPW: Yes, that too. Do you have a favorite?

CK: Hmmm. I like them both, but for different reasons. I was excited we were finally writing a Christmas mystery … I know we both wanted to do that for a long time.

MPW: That’s true.

CK: But Ice Cold Murder was a lot of fun, as well. After all, what’s more intriguing than being trapped in a supposedly haunted house with a dead lawyer and a dysfunctional family in the middle of a snowstorm? At least when it comes to solving a mystery.

MPW: I can’t think of anything better.

CK: Although if you ask Claire, she might have a different answer.

MPW: Yeah, that’s why we’re not asking her. And that leads me to my last question—do you ever get upset with me for all the bad things that happen to you?

CK: That question assumes you’re the one coming up with the bad things.

MPW: Wait … what?

CK: I mean, has it occurred to you that our stories are our stories and you’re just the one writing them down? Honestly, you’re kind of like a glorified secretary.

MPW: Um …

CK: Now, that isn’t to say I don’t get upset with you. But it’s mostly when you get stubborn and start working on other projects and listening to other characters when you should be paying attention to me.

MPW: Okay then. Good to know.

Check out the full Charlie Kingsley Mystery series here.

Free Novella! “The Secret Diary of Helen Blackstone”

 




5 thoughts on “Meet Charlie Kingsley: The Character that Never Gave Up”

  1. Pingback: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at "The Murder Before Christmas" -

  2. I’m confused on the time frame. In the Charlie books is this before she died? So that means it began with a lie is after she died? I’m just really confused. I have just started it began with a lie. I’m still not clear who are the ghosts in Charlie’s house. In the Charlie books not much is said about the ghost in her house or did I miss it? Thank you

    1. Michele Pariza Wacek

      Great questions. I’ll update the post with all the different timelines, but here is the chronological timeline:

      The Summoning (Book 4 of The Secrets of Redemption series) 1989
      The Reckoning (Book 5 of The Secrets of Redemption series) 1989
      All the Charlie Kingsley Mysteries books 1990
      It Began with a Lie (Book 1 of The Secrets of Redemption series) 2019
      This Happened to Jessica (Book 2 of The Secrets of Redemption series) 2019
      The Evil That Was Done (Book 3 of The Secrets of Redemption series) 2019

      In terms of reading order, you can either start with Book 1 or Book 4 of The Secrets of Redemption series (I recommend Book 1). While it’s nice to read The Charlie Kingsley Mysteries in order, they’re meant to be standalones.

      As for the ghost, Charlie definitely has ghosts in her house, but they’re not as obnoxious as they are with Becca. They will make appearance in other books.

  3. Pingback: What Does Charlie think about “Murder Next Door?” -

  4. Pingback: The Story Behind the Story: "The Taking" - Michele Pariza Wacek

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