Writing MILICENT LE SUEUR: Born on a Zipity Do Dah Morning

Margeret Moseley’s Milicent Le Sueur is one of the most charming and delightful characters in crime fiction. Today Margaret, the bestselling author of Bonita Faye, shares how she created the character.

It was one of those zipity do dah spring mornings, one of the only fourteen or so we experience in Texas before the big heat comes; I was on the way to the hospital to welcome a new born great-niece into the world. Windows were down and a breeze was blowing. My radio wasn’t on, but I could hear singing outside my car when I stopped for a red light. I sat through several lights (early Sunday morning and no traffic) to listen to a young man, early twenties, good build and blowsy hair, sing his heart out, sitting on the grass at the intersection. He sang of clouds and of sunshine. And of happy people and of red cars. He sang with innocence and pure joy of the day.

He reminded me of a surly bag-lady I had once known in another era of my life, but she had hurled epithets to the passing public, abusively exclaiming their intrusions into her right-of-way domain, a half-bricked wall protecting a derelict park.

I mused on the disparity between the two homeless, society-free souls, wondering about their paths, about how each had chosen or been driven to their current existence, and how they coped with day to day living. What did they eat, how did they go to the bathroom, and how often did the law check up on them?

I did not think about writing about them, a bag lady or a homeless man.

Then one day another great-niece (I have oodles of them), a terrible-two toddler, glared at me over her high-chair tray, gave me a go-to-hell look and screamed, “Whatcha lookin’ at?”

And it all just clicked and Milicent was born.

I love Milicent LeSueur. I spent several happy months with her exploring boundaries, being surprised by her twists and turns, and wondering “where in the world” that thought or scene came from to the point where I began to worry about myself.

I don’t know if I could “revisit” Millie again, I’m not in the same place now as I was then, but, lately, with the BrashBooks reissue, I’ve been thinking. Wondering what did happen to her after the book ended. Whether she and Wade Tate…you know. How would that work? I mean I could see her with MONK maybe, but a chief of police? Hmmm…