Reading a post by Catrionia is like getting a shot of happiness and laughter. I’m delighted to welcome her back to The Wickeds as she celebrates the release of Scot in a Trap.
Catrionia: In SCOT IN A TRAP, (Last Ditch Motel No.5), there’s a murder, a few laughs, lots of food, snark about California from the Scot, snark about Scotland from the Californians . . . all that good stuff. But this time there’s something else as well.
A brand-new baby
I’m not the most disciplined of writers and so it’s no surprise that I wrote this baby in all her rank and waxy just-born glory during the time of COVID when, back home in Scotland, three (THREE!) new babies were born into my family and I couldn’t get to see any of them.
One of them was born when I should have been right there in 2020 and I planned to elbow my way to the front of the cuddle queue on day one, playing the “I missed the last six” card. Hmph.
I love new babies. Love them! Whether they little aliens, little simians, little Alfred Hitchcocks, little Buddhas . . . they’re all beautiful to me and endlessly interesting. I know that’s not the case for everyone.
I lied. I hear that’s not the case for everyone, but I don’t believe it. Of course we all love newborn babies! We’ve got to. Our species would never have survived if we weren’t hardwired to be turned to protective and selfless mush at the sight of a new baby.
It doesn’t even need to be a new baby human: kittens, rabbits, puppies, squirrels, ducklings – they all do to us what babies do.
I reckon if someone can walk past a kitten/puppy adoption event without a look and at least one “Awwwww!” they must be a bit of a sociopath. Or a cyborg. Once we’re beyond mammals and birds it gets a bit more iffy. Is a tadpole cute? Is a caterpillar? But close to our own species, we’re a goner.
I mean, Disney made fabulous fortunes exploiting exactly this evolutionary adaptation, with animals who all had huge eyes, small noses (even Dumbo) and squeaky voices. I wonder if the people who (claim they) are immune to the charm of a new baby surprising herself by sneezing, or a slightly older baby finding his toes for the first time, or a grand old baby of almost one joyfully tasting/wearing an avocado, are immune to Disney too.
Objectively, I can see the pros and cons of a new baby. PRO: they stay where you put them and the catering is not complicated. (Except they can roll when they’re swaddled and the catering can cause excruciating pain.) CON: mostly smells and substances. PRO + CON: they issue very clear instructions that they are displeased, but in the form of ear-splitting yells that they can’t unpack for you if you don’t understand.
The new baby at the Last Ditch cries from the moment of birth until the last chapter, and explodes from every orifice with impressive regularity. I wrote eight besotted adults nevertheless and just one somewhat wary six-year-old, who can see the writing on the wall about his status as Boy Emperor beginning to crumble. (But even he can’t get over the teensy toenails.)
So how about you, Wickeds and readers? Do babies turn you to a mush that makes applesauce look like jerky? Or can you explain how you resist them?
SCOT IN A TRAP
A mysterious object the size of a suitcase, all wrapped in bacon and smelling of syrup, can mean only one thing: Thanksgiving at the Last Ditch Motel. This year the motel residents are in extra-celebratory mood as the holiday brings a new arrival to the group – a bouncing baby girl.
But as one life enters the Ditch, another leaves it. Menzies Lassiter has only just checked in. When resident counsellor Lexy Campbell tries to deliver his breakfast the next day, she finds him checked out. Permanently. Shocking enough if he were stranger, but Lexy recognises that face. Menzies was her first love until he broke her heart many years ago.
What’s he doing at the Last Ditch? What’s he doing dead? And how can Lexy escape the fact that she alone had the means, the opportunity – and certainly the motive – to kill him?
Bio: Catriona McPherson (she/her) was born in Scotland and immigrated to the US in 2010. She writes: preposterous 1930s detective stories, set in the old country and featuring an aristocratic sleuth; modern comedies set in the Last Ditch Motel in fictional (yeah, sure) California; and, darker than both of those (which is not difficult), a strand of contemporary psychological thrillers.
Her books have won or been shortlisted for the Edgar, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Lefty, the Macavity, the Mary Higgins Clark award and the UK Ellery Queen Dagger. She has just introduced a fresh character in IN PLACE OF FEAR, which finally marries her love of historicals with her own working-class roots, but right now, she’s writing the sixth book in what was supposed to be the Last Ditch trilogy.
Catriona is a proud lifetime member and former national president of Sisters in Crime. www.catrionamcpherson.com