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February 19, 2011


Robin Agnew

Julia, I have heard about your grey hair - you look beautiful! It suits you.


My first comment is "DARN You're lucky!" My silver is still too mixed with the dark colors to grow out yet. Your complextion really works with the silver! Second comment, I think since we are at the tail end of the baby boomer generation (still the largest one around) then that means the majority of adults are over 48. So why not write characters who we can identify with (and as we are not as a 'sanitized' version, or a version that more fits our parents than us.) Your characters act appropiate for their age. (the only problem I have with the series is the Vietnam conflict timeline regarding Russ' age, but I always tell myself that these books took place in the past, and we are catching up with them.)

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Oh, it's too touchy for a blog--but remind me to tell you when I see you--whoever reads this!--about why Charlie, my main character, is 46 and not 55. It's quite a tale!

Yes, ideeedy...it's a "situation."

(And Robin, I agree.)

Julia--did you "decide" about their ages? Or was this how the characters "appeared" to you?

Mary Saums

So good to have you here, Julia! Awesome books, great hair ... I'm not jealous though. Much. :)

Clare wouldn't be Clare if you'd made her younger. She needed more years to be where she is, which to me means a more interesting place in her life. That may be what I look for in any book, now that I think of it. I'd rather read about experience and loss.

Does that make me weird or just old? :)

Ann Sypolt

Hi Julia. You're a Silver Fox at heart - the natural color looks great on you. BLOG: I enjoy the spread in ages of your characters. Being a 1950's Boomer I relate well. Episcopalians - of course you have us pegged. We seldom color our hair, belong to the Junior League, shop at Talbots (classic shops) and always work at our church bazaar. We are served genealogy appreciation along side the family silver settings(Aunt Rose's silver marrys well with Grandmother Bailey's...). And of course the lifespan of any dilemna is "forever and ever Amen..." Carry on dear Julia! I enjoy every work you produce! Cheers,

Julia Spencer-Fleming

Ann, you know the Episcopalian world even better than I do. NOBODY is more Episcopalian than a Southern Episcopalian.

Thank you all for the compliments on my hair. It was actually seeing how great women like Hank and Robin and Louise Penny looked "au naturel" that gave me the courage to try it. And I have to say, I'm very pleased. It looks good, feels wonderful, and oh my Lord, the savings in time and $$!

Julia Spencer-Fleming

Hank, when I started writing, Clare was just a few years younger than I. She's aging a lot more slowly than I am at this point.

Russ--I always knew he was older. I needed someone who thought he was settled in his life and had everything figured out in order to get the full effect of having his world turned upside down by Clare's arrival.

And I'm going to hold you to that promise to tell the story of Charlie's age...


Each time I've been to an author signing in my big city, at early to mid-thirties, I've been the youngest by a couple of decades most of the time. I know I want to read books with characters who are more seasoned, just because I am. I look back and think of how much I didn't know back in my twenties, and when I read a book featuring a young twenty-something, I don't believe they are as together as they're written. So, to me, bring on those older characters and all their issues, physical and emotional. It just adds more to their character.

I love the au naturel look, Julia! I got my first white hair when I was 17 and thought it was cool. I'll admit to a few misgivings about the coolness factor as I've aged and more and more show up. I'm still hoping for a dramatic streak, a la Rogue from X-Men.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

I'm stll laughing about menopause brain. I do think that could be the center of a pretty funny mystery novel.

I GUESS it would be funny..

Kathy Waller

Gorgeous hair!

My aspiring protagonist is 39. I think it's a funny age, but then I remember Jack Benny. I was tempted to make her my age so she could remember the '50s, because that's the decade I still inhabit mentally, but decided to put her on the cusp of bifocals. That's a funny time, too, as long as someone else is going through it.


One of my readers complained because my protagonist said she was tired after driving from Baghdad to Amman, flying from Amman to Paris, and then being ordered to Fez, Morocco, all in under 24 hours. I was exhausted just writing about it. And Lee is under 40, sort of. The scar of the knife wound in her left side will trouble her a bit in the next one. She should have my knees!

Fran Stewart

Can't wait to cry over the new book -- I always cry when I read a "Clare and Russ."

Since I was in my fifties when I started writing my Biscuit McKee mysteries, I made Biscuit 49. That seemed young enough at the time. Now I'm 64, and she's just barely past 50. How can so many murders happen to one librarian, or in your case, one Episcopalian priest?

Julia Spencer-Fleming

Obviously, overexposure to murders is what keeps one young. If we all got jobs at a CSI lab, our joints would be flexible, our brains fog-free, and we could see what we're texting without pausing to put on the reading glasses.

Ellis Vidler

If my hair looked like yours, I'd let it grow out too. It looks great.
I'm sooooo glad your book is almost out. It's been a long, deprived time without knowing what happened to Clare and Russ. I may have to take a day off work to enjoy it when I get it. Loved the blog. What fun!

Sandy Smith

hey, they don't call it gray matter for nothing !
I have not read your books, but I sure will now...I like your attitude !
I find that I actually prefer my heroines to be closer to my own age...just because we might be slower, does NOT mean we are not smarter ! I wouldn't mind meeting up with some of the hormones I had at twenty, but that's the ONLY thing I want back from that era !

Jackie Edwards

I'm all for heros with some patina on them. When I look back at my own youth and observe those currently luxuriating in a mindless lack of years, I am reminded of my father. "Aging is not for the feint of heart," was his favorite pronouncement. I'd like to think of us as survivors-- smart, adaptive and way too experienced to make those dumb mistakes again.

Sarah H. Baker

Love the post -- especially the "hokey pokey" phrase! As one of those writers at the bar, I think you've nailed it. We may not look like college students (anymore), but we have more fun than most. And I do like for my heroes and heroines to have more worries than which brand of beer he'll buy tonight or where she left her eye shadow.

Kaye George

Love the post, and the pictures! You look fabulous. I think we must often ignore our daughters, though. Mine told me years ago to quit wearing my bell bottoms, and now they're back!

Jeri Westerson

Great post, Julia. Can't wait to get the book! At long last. And the hair looks mahvelous, dahling.


I saw your hair "in person" at Bouchercon and I thought you'd gone blond. It is completely lovely, Marilyn Monroe-ish - I'd say you got the good hair genes.

G.M. Malliet

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Yes,the Julia-Bouchercon hair experience was a once-in-a-lifetime...people just stopped in their tracks! It was fantastic.

And yes,J is very lucky with the color of the gray. It's more--silver.

(Can you believe we're talking about this? :-) )


It's in the platinum blonde range. Maybe that's why I thought of Marilyn. Well, also, when Julia started singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President." (Was that a great Bouchercon, or what?)

I'm fine talking about hair so long as the discussion doesn't drift over into what color MY hair really is.

Sally Carpenter

Silver is the new blonde! Lookin' good and I love the long hair. I'm early 50s and am letting my hair go natural. IMHO dyed hair looks fake and obvious.
In my pre-pub book my hero is 38 and gearing up for a major mid-life crises. He's young enough for action scenes but old enough to know better (sometimes).
So you're Episcopalian too? (I'm a convert). Seems like a number of mystery writers are. What's up with that? Maybe it's the rich literary tradition of the prayer book that inspires writers or we're just a bunch of rowdies (LOL).

Mary Saums

Sally, I believe you've got something there. The prayer book bit, not about being rowdies. :)

This reminds me of the time I heard Phyllis Tickle (a writer and was the religious editor at Publisher's Weekly or one of those big book pubs) speak. The instant I saw her, I thought she looked like an Anglican priest. Because of her bearing, her command of language, yes, but mostly because of her beautiful SILVER HAIR.

I think we've hit on important scientific evidence here.


Nice post, Julia--and welcome to the Femmes' blog!

Your post reminded me of the Judi Dench incarnation of M in the rebooted Bond movies. She must have been something in earlier decades to survive (politics and bullets) to become head of MI6, and man, I bet she'd be fun to drink with now.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Dana--Judi? Or M? I guess it would be fun to have drinks with either. Or both. And you, too. And Julia.


Both and either, Hank! Was thinking M, in terms of a fun character, but I suspect Ms. Dench has some cool stories too!

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