Marnie Reilly Mysteries – Meet My Unruly Characters

Marnie Reilly Mysteries’ characters are fun to write. Their personalities have developed from Divine Guidance (Book 1) to Torn Veil (Book 2), but my unruly crew wants more. As I write Fatal Vow (Marnie Reilly Mysteries Book #3), I am focused on giving them what they want. Marnie Reilly, Detective Danny Gregg, Detective Tom Keller and Tater are all quite pushy. They have all been through a lot the last few years. I owe them. It makes sense that they would want change – for the better or worse.

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.

Ernest Hemingway, Death in the afternoon

My characters are very much alive to me. I have conversations with them – they speak to me. Marnie has been worried that she is a bit selfish and scattered. Danny believes that he should be more supportive of Marnie. Tater thinks that people don’t take him seriously. What about Tom? Well, he has been asking me to give him more depth. I have told them all that it is a process and that we are only on book 3, but they still want more. They disrupt my sleep and many awake hours with demands to be noticed.

Fatal Vow is a chance to let them off of their leads – so to speak. I am going to take the advice of William Faulkner and let all of them speak to me a bit more. My first draft is messy by design so that my characters can tell me where they want to go. I can always fix things up in the first or second round of edits. Does that sound funny? My characters telling me where they want to go. Perhaps, but that’s the path we’re taking.

It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.

William Faulkner

A few weeks ago, I spent most of my weekend “finding” my characters. I sifted through thousands of stock images. I waited for the images to speak to me. Once they did, I invested in images of Marnie, Tom, Danny and Tater. How did I do? I know! Danny’s hair should be a bit lighter – but the sun will take care of that come summer. Have I mentioned that Fatal Vow opens on the first day of summer?


Here they are in full-color – Marnie Reilly, Tom Keller, Danny Gregg and Tater Tot!

Marnie Reilly

Height: 5’ 10’”
Build: Athletic
Hair Color: Strawberry Blonde
Eye Color: Aquamarine
Marital Status: Single
Age: 30-something
Distinguishing Features: haunted eyes, scar around her neck
Career: Psychologist
Nicknames: Marn, Madame Séance and Good Witch of the North
Best friend: Detective Tom Keller
Love interest: Detective Daniel Gregg

Marnie Reilly is a compassionate, ethical, sassy, quirky and loyal psychic. She is a force of nature for sure. Tall and athletically built, Marnie’s style is casual – she opts for jeans and boots over skirts and heels. Her job calls for skirts and heels – her home life the former. Her straight, strawberry blonde hair falls just below her shoulders.

Marnie is fiercely independent and guarded. People who know her well attribute this to the tragic and untimely death of her mother and, just a few years later, her father. She hates asking for help, and she doesn’t let people in easily, but when she does, she expects them to be kind, considerate and honest. She’s had her fair share of bad relationships. The worst was Ken Wilder; he was a cruel and abusive cheater with a penchant for pain – other people’s pain, that is.

The first thing that most people notice about Marnie is her eyes – aquamarine and haunted. Aquamarine is the color; haunted is her gift of clairvoyance revealing itself. The second thing that people notice about her is her undying devotion to her Border Collie Tater. They are a package deal.

Marnie is on a road to self-discovery. Working through why she rescues people is a big part of that process. Who should she trust? Who should she save? Who can she count on when everything turns upside down?

Tom Keller from Marnie Reilly Mysteries
Detective Tom Keller

Height: 6’2½”
Build: Lanky
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Violet
Marital Status: Single
Age: 30-something
Things to know about Tom: Marnie Reilly’s best friend; dry wit; terrified of ghosts
Career: Police Detective, Sergeant
Nicknames: Tom, Tommy

Tom Keller is the comic relief in the Marnie Reilly Mysteries series. His comedic timing is terrible – but his humor is rarely malicious.

He is tall and lanky with a distance runner’s build. He has short black hair and his eyes are a deep violet. Many women swoon over the charming detective, but he is quite happy being single. He does not like being set up on dates and is quick to remind his best friend, Marnie Reilly, of this fact.

He is kind, compassionate and hates injustice of any kind. Tom is a lover of animals, history and the investigative process of being a detective. He does not leave any stone unturned when searching for answers.

The mention of anything paranormal makes him jittery. He is not a coward with things that he can see – but hint at the possibility of a ghost being present, and Tom will pull his feet up onto the couch and shiver in response.

There are many layers yet to peel back where Tom is concerned. Fatal Vow will reveal A LOT about Detective Tom Keller – and just how far he will go to protect Marnie Reilly!

Danny Gregg from Marnie Reilly Mysteries
Detective Danny Gregg

Height: 6’2”
Build: Athletic
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Steely Blue
Marital Status: Widower
Age: 30-something
Distinguishing Features: dimples, scar on back from a stabbing
Career: Police Detective, Lieutenant
Nicknames: Danny
Love interest: Marnie Reilly

Danny’s dimpled smile doesn’t quite go with his grumpy demeanor. His thick, sandy brown hair is often messy from running his fingers through it when thinking or stressed. He is a tall man, solidly built and some would say a force to be reckoned with when angered or protecting the innocent. He has a sharp wit and an astute sixth sense about people.

A steely blue gaze is the second thing that most people notice about Danny. The first is his badge; he wears his gold shield with great pride.

Danny is a widower. He lost his late wife Sarah several years back to suicide. No matter how Danny has tried to forgive himself, just under the surface looms guilt for not saving Sarah from her deep dive into depression. He lost his mother Carol to depression and suicide, too. He still carries a great deal of guilt because he couldn’t save the two women whom he loved dearly. Danny typically steers clear of relationships. Investing emotionally in love is low on his list of priorities – until now.

Danny met Marnie while investigating the murder of her ex-lover, Ken Wilder. She annoys the hell out of him, and he finds her to be the most irritating woman whom he has ever met. Her kindness, independent nature, warmth, wisdom, sassiness and beauty have won him over. But will he cross legal lines to keep her safe? You will find out in Fatal Vow – coming in 2022.

Tater Border Collie from Marnie Reilly Mysteries
Tater
(photo by Tadeusz Lakota)

Height: 22’
Build: Athletic
Hair Color: Black and white
Eye Color: Gold/brown
Age: he doesn’t like to talk about it
Distinguishing Features: intense and intelligent eyes
Career: Service dog
Nicknames: Tater Tot

Tater is Marnie Reilly’s rough-coat, black and white Border Collie. He is an athletic dog with sharp, intelligent eyes and a cheeky disposition.

Marnie found Tater as a puppy at the side of a road in a burlap bag. He was the size of an Idaho potato – hence his name.

Tater knows a number of on-command tricks including how to play dead, how to crawl on his tummy like a snake, how to shake and how to open the fridge.

Tater has learned by watching Marnie – how to open doors; how to open his kennel; how to train humans. Adding to his impressive bag of tricks, he instinctively herds people, other dogs, sheep and bad guys. He’s a clever boy.

Chasing squirrels and eating tuna are two of his favorite pastimes.

He quickly responds to commands from Marnie and Tom, but Danny can be too gruff with him at times. It’s not because Danny is mean – it’s because he has never experienced a dog quite like Tater. He is fiercely loyal to Marnie. Readers will see the full force of his loyalty in Fatal Vow – Marnie Reilly Mysteries Book #3.


Carl, Gram and even Kate will soon have their faces on the website too. For now, I need to focus on writing. In the meantime, let me entertain you with a glimpse at Marnie’s new home. What’s that? You thought that she would be living with Danny? That was presumptuous!

Marnie Reilly's Home
Marnie Reilly’s New Home

Marnie's Red Barn at Wild Creek Ranch
Red Barn at Wild Creek Ranch

Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them ― in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box

For now, I will be taking Kurt Vonnegut’s advice. I’m not sure that any of them would be described as sweet, but most of them are good people. At least I think that they are.

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