Inside My Writer Brain: The Background of Fit to Be Dead by Nancy G. West

Aggie has been hounding me about how this happened, so here goes:

        I was writing my suspense novel, Nine Days to Evil, about Meredith Laughlin, a lovely girl—tall, blond, winsome and smart—although a bit naïve. A thoroughly smitten newlywed, she was also in graduate school, an English literature major, studious, serious and eager. But all was not as it seemed. She found herself sinking into the quicksand of a dilemma that threatened to upend everything she believed and endanger her life. She did notice one woman in her class who was quite different from the other students:

     The woman sitting in Meredith’s row near the window didn’t match the other students. Meredith guessed she was in her late thirties. Her blackish hair, parted in the middle, puffed downward and covered her ears. It was immobile, like a Brillo pad. Her turquoise crocodile eyes, heavy-lidded and puffy, darted stealthily around the room. Her diminutive nose contrasted with her other classic   features. Her lips, outlined larger than their natural curve, were a garish red that matched her long, manicured nails. 

      Meredith imagined her with a softer hairstyle and less lipstick, wearing a perfectly tailored Chanel suit. Instead, she wore a nylon turquoise warm-up trimmed with wine-colored piping that screamed at her lips and nails.                                                             

      This woman sat with her hands resting on the desk and a sneaker-clad foot crossed over her opposite knee. She evaluated the professor as he fumbled with books and papers on his cluttered desk. “Okay,” her body language said, “show me something.”

Meredith needed levity in her life, some humor, a step back from her problem, maybe a touch of cynicism. I must have needed it too; thus, Aggie Mundeen materialized. 

In addition to having returned to grad school, like Aggie did, I was also trying to shape up. Thinness is not my natural condition; God wants me to work for it. So I joined Fit and Firm Health Club to shape up.

I noticed that male exercisers seemed to fall roughly into three categories: beautiful muscle guys who turned heads and reveled in their masculinity; eager exercisers who, despite heredity and build, eagerly pressed on to reach their pinnacle; and health devotees whose days revolved around their every muscle and sinew and every morsel of food they consumed. These guys needed some shaking up.

   Aggie Mundeen entered the scene motivated, curious, and determined. She discovered that mechanical exercise equipment was frustratingly difficult to operate but wanted to try the devices anyway. In the process, she managed to irritate a slew of male exercisers.

Who knew she would then stumble into murder? When a San Antonio detective arrived at the club to investigate, Aggie’s interest in crime solving increased. When she found that she and the victim were inextricably linked, her curiosity morphed into a dogged penchant for sleuthing—which caused its own set of problems . . . .