I am surprised when the first question friends and acquaintances ask me about my book is how long it took me to write it. I hate to admit that I haven't the vaguest idea. It did go through innumerable rewrites (The major one started when an agent said she couldn't make head nor tail out of the story because of too many flashbacks. Her comments led to simplifying them into one very long flashback). When someone did ask me whether the characters were modeled after people I knew, I had to be careful. I don't want to be sued and I don't want to throw my whole life story at them, boring.
Some of the characters are modeled after people I have either known or read about. I have lived in Berkeley for a short period of time where the story takes place and one of my daughters attend college there. The folk opera that my characters create was written in one of the most beautiful places in the United States, Dinwoody Lakes, Wyoming, where I have camped for a short period of time. Don't all writers base their books on their life experiences? When my husband died of a heart attack while riding his bicycle, I had to make sure in spite of my shock and grief that he hadn't been shot like my victim in another mystery I have written.
I really had fun with my characters. One of the premises I started with was how a group of creative friends interact with each other. They include painters, writers, musicians, a scientist, socialites and Swami whose name indicates his interests. Since I am into writing mysteries, the story quickly turned into a murder mystery. My wonderful editor, Sid Hollister, paid me a great compliment by saying he thinks he knew some of my characters when he was at Berkeley (i.e. University of California). Ah, my characters are real.
My daughter was equally kind in saying she was sorry to leave them behind when the book ended. Perhaps I'll have my heroine discover another murder to bring them to life again. That story will have to wait in line while I complete three or four other projects.
However, my major concern in the book was my protagonist, Lucy, who is accused of murdering her husband and sets out to figure out who killed him to get herself off the hook. She tells about her search for motives among the people she knows. Quoting her is perhaps the best way for me to tell you about her and the book.
"Why would I kill my husband? Why indeed? Over the last seven years, for a number of reasons, I have actually spent a lot of time and thought trying to work out ways of ridding myself of him, but not recently. Not now, when I had at long last learned not only to cope with living with him but to enjoy its advantages. Hadn't I always reaped the benefits of being married to him? How calculating that sounds!
Instinctively, I had always known I was better off living with him than without him. Somehow I knew that learning to live with Martin had made it possible for me to grow and develop into a person in my own right. My total acceptance of him with all his flaws and foibles had made it possible for me to no longer have thoughts of murder, but also to be thoroughly shocked that someone else did murder him. Someone has now forced me to face life without him. That indeed will be difficult.
Becoming an individual isn't just my venture, it is every woman's challenge: to become a person in her own right while accepting the responsibilities of being a wife and, as in my case, a mother. Not everyone, however, is married to a Martin Metzger or faces the dilemmas he presented me with while we were married. Not every woman has the same timorousness and lack of confidence that I had when I first met and eventually married Martin. Would his death and a possible charge of murder bring back my old self, which I now view with such loathing? I would not let that happen."
Motives for Murder was published by Creative Arts Book Co. and is available through most book outlets.
"Motives for Murder is retired librarian Pat Gebhard's first novel, and it's quite an interesting debut. Told from the perspective of Lucy Metzger, the wife of murdered professor and womanizer Martin Metzger, the tale begins with Lucy's arrest for suspicion of killing her husband by tainting his vitamins with cyanide. He's on a business trip to New York when he takes this fatal dose, and Lucy is further traumatized by a call from Martin's friend and roommate on the trip asking her how she could do it.
Lucy speaks directly to the reader, showing us her side of the story and taking us back through various highlights (or lowlights) in the life she shared with Martin. She's a vulnerable woman and unimaginably na´ve. Yet I found myself caring enough about her to wonder how she got herself into such a mess, and to try to discern why she stayed with a man who cheated on her throughout their relationship, even after the birth of their three children.
Ms. Gebhard's writing is honest and direct, if at times stilted, but appealing enough to compel me to continue the book through its finish. I was bothered by Lucy's so-called friends - and even by her father - who believed she was so firmly guilty of the crime that the first thing each one said to her, after learning of Martin's death was: "You killed him, didn't you?" From what I learned of Lucy, she was the last person who would have poisoned her fickle hubby. She seemed to love him despite his many foibles and to forgive his sins no matter how despicable. That those around her couldn't see this is puzzling.
Motives for Murder is an intriguing first outing, different enough from the typical mystery fare to make it worth a look."
--Susan McBride, Charlotte Austin Review
"Lucy Metzger, whose popular professor husband is poisoned during a solo business trip to New York, faces accusations not only from police but also from her own father. Long ago disillusioned with her husband, Lucy had worked on a graduate degree and mothered their children in California; now she must find out who has framed her. As the narrator, Lucy devotes most of the book to detailing her early obsession with her husband and why she could not have killed him--though she provides many reasons to the contrary. Anyway, this little plot skims right along..."
--Library Journal, ©2000 Cahners Business Information.
"Drugs. Multiple affairs with women. Men. Alternately worshipping and alienating his wife. Certainly Lucy has ample reason to spike her brilliant husband's vitamins with cyanide. Certainly the police think so....the only problem is...Lucy says she didn't do it.
Since no one seems to believe her anyway, the bereaved Lucy decides to solve the mystery herself. And as she probes, she finds there are plenty of people with motives for murder.
Author Pat Gebhard first takes the reader back to Berkeley in the 70's, where Lucy first falls in love with her wildly charismatic professor, Martin Metzger, who soon takes her into his bed, his heart, and then on a wild roller coaster ride of experiments with sex and drugs, leaving her to take care of his mistress' children.
Lucy and Martin's characters are extremely well-drawn and believable, and it's easy to see how the innocent Lucy gets drawn into the free-spirited lifestyle of her husband, and equally easy to believe how he could offend enough people to finally get himself murdered.
Motives for Murder provides a tight little mystery wrapped up in a highly entertaining account of the love affair between a student and her increasingly charming but wacko instructor. Fun reading."--Kathleen Youmans
|Motives for Murder|