Posted by Jeanne Munn Bracken
I have been a member of DorothyL, the online mystery community, for well over ten years. Early on, I noticed that some very famous people were "on" DL--or were they? Harriet Vane, Lord Peter Wimsey...oh, wait, they're not real.
It turned out that DL listmembers often chose what they called "noms de clavier" for their online names. Huh? I knew about Bach's "Well Tempered Clavier", which was an organ or maybe a harpsichord. Eventually I figured out that in this case, "clavier" meant "keyboard". Clever.
I wanted a nom de clavier, too. Choosing one wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I cogitated about an appropriate character from a favorite book who would represent either what I am or what I aspire to be. Obviously Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey from the Dorothy L. Sayers oeuvre were taken.
I like Agatha Christie. Maybe Miss Marple? Taken. I moved on. I favor "cozies", which some prefer to call "Malice Domestic", over the grim and dark noir genre, although I certainly do read a lot of books from across the board. I thought about favorite authors.
Jill Churchill writes the suburban housewife series about Jane Jeffreys. Nom taken. Katherine Hall Page's culinary series is great fun. Maybe Faith Fairchild? Nope, gone. Jane Langton? Homer Kelly was taken and I have never really felt like a Mary Kelly even if she did work in the Concord Free Public Library.
I had not yet discovered Margaret Maron's Judge Deborah Knott series or Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum titles, any of which would provide noms de clavier for a dozen fans.
Joan Hess, though, was already a favorite. I always read the Claire Malloy series faithfully but the overly nosy bookshop owner didn't particularly appeal to me, and her teen daughter Karon "In Your Face, Motherrrrrr" Malloy was way too much like my own like-aged and -minded daughter Mollie for the attitude to be endearing.
Then there was Joan's Maggody series (www.maggody.com ). These hilarious stories are set in a rather--heck, very!--backwoods area of Arkansas but a lot of the people and situations reminded me of some of our New Hamsphire neighbors in the 1960s (without the moonshine operation on Cotter's Ridge). But "Arly Hanks" was taken, and so was "Ruby Bee", her mom, short for "Rubella Belinda", of all things. I might find Mrs Jim Bob Buchanon (Barbara Ann Buchanon Buchanon, since cousins married) amusing but I had no desire to be connected with that uptight, upright, overly pious Lady.
Many of the other recurring characters in the Maggody series are at best unsavory and often felonious, with one exception.There was one character that met my criteria: coddled, cared for, carefree, comfortable. That would be Marjorie. Okay, Marjorie is a pig and has to live with Raz Buchanon, who is no prize, with his moonshine operation and his aversion to bathing. But hey! Marjorie gets to lie on the couch watching television (if she could read, of course, she would read mysteries all day, and I could get down with that, too). She always rides shotgun in Raz's pickup. No sty for Marjorie, but even if she lived in such a lowly abode, there have been plenty of occasions when I referred in exasperation to my own dwelling with that pejorative.
Marjorie doesn't have to meet deadlines, get up in the morning and hit the highway to bring home the ... well, not bacon, but... groceries. Best of all, Raz treasures Marjorie, and who wouldn't dig that? So I became "Marjorie Buchanon, pampered pedigreed porcine pet in Maggody, Arkansas, population 755."
When Joan Hess visited New Hampshire on an author tour, I introduced myself to her by pointing to Marjorie's picture on the cover of her book and saying, "That's me!" Since I started to go to Malice Domestic, I have met her several more times, and one of the highlights of my mystery fiction addiction was having a drink with the author, her daughter Becca, and her hilarious editor Kevin in her fancy suite when Joan was Guest of Honor at Malice Domestic in 2005. Being a pig has been good to me.
And why not? As E.B. White's Charlotte says of Wilbur, Marjorie is "Some Pig."