Another trope of cozy mysteries is that the female amateur sleuth usually has a love interest. Lilliana’s first tentative foray into a new relationship didn’t work out very well. When several months had gone by, as told in “Blood Red Murder,” I thought it was time to introduce the real romantic relationship. The only problem was, who was he?
I’d recently heard Diana Gabaldon speak at the Tucson Festival of Books about how she came up with the idea for “Outlander.” (She’s a great speaker, by the way. Make sure to catch her if she’s in your area.) As she said:
So that’s where I began, knowing nothing about Scotland or the eighteenth century, with no plot, no outline, no characters—nothing but the rather vague images conjured up by a man in a kilt (which is, of course, a very powerful and compelling image).
Yes, it is.
In fact, I found the image so compelling, I started searching for pictures of an older man in a kilt online. Can you guess whose photo showed early on in every variant of those search terms I tried?
No, it’s not the gentleman at the top of this post. I can’t include the photo I found and saved for inspiration because it’s subject to copyright, which has become a very touchy situation in a world where everyone and his brother (or sister) used to post copyrighted graphics all over the place, but use Google and you’ll easily find it yourself.
The photo was of Sean Connery.
Now, I was never a James Bond fan. In my mind, Sean Connery was filed alongside Jean-Claude VanDamme, Jackie Chan, and Steven Seagal. My reaction was always something like “Oh, those movies.”
However, along the way I’d stumbled across a film called “Finding Forrester.” This movie is about a reclusive writer who forms a relationship with a young black teen with a talent for writing, and in doing so, discovers friendship in his later years. It’s incredibly touching, and Sean Connery isn’t running around with a gun or having fist fights or jumping into bed with badly-named women.
And I thought that Sean Connery could be Lilliana’s love interest.
That’s how Christopher MacAlistair was born. (And also turned me into a big Sean Connery fan, searching out movies he’d made after James Bond. If you’ve never seen “Entrapment,” it’s on my must-see list. Ignore the age difference between him and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I didn’t even think about it until it was brought up in a number of reviews I read.)
Okay, so I had a picture and the start of a personality and that sexy Scottish voice, but who was Christopher MacAlistair really? He wasn’t Sean Connery and he wasn’t William Forrester and he certainly wasn’t James Bond.
Bits and pieces have come to me as I’ve written the books he’s appeared in. At some point in his life, he worked as an IT consultant, which led to him traveling the world. His wife died of breast cancer, as did Lilliana’s daughter, so they have that touchpoint in common. He’s estranged from his son (I don’t know why yet), and his daughter has a disabling disease which forces her to live in a care home in Edinburgh. He’s an excellent pianist, and he and Lilliana sing duets together. He thought about a career as a professional musician at one point in his life.
Other than that, his background is rather mysterious. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that lately. What was his life like before he met Lilliana? What are his passions? What things are on his bucket list?
I’m not quite sure yet, but I’ll share it all with you as he shares himself with Lilliana.