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What was my motivation for writing the Kate & Nick Mysteries?

What was my motivation for writing the Kate & Nick Mysteries?

Kate and Nick in a convertible

from the desk of

Cheryl Rodgers

I grew up reading mysteries and watching them on TV. I loved them better than most any other kind of story. More than the allure of unraveling the mystery, it was characters like Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, and Nick and Nora Charles that captivated me. To me, a mystery wasn’t just about the puzzle—it was a window into understanding human character and relationships.

Of them all, Nick and Nora Charles took the cake—a loving pair gallivanting around town, sipping martinis, and trading quips while outsmarting criminals.  Nora, an heiress with a flair for adventure, was something to behold in the 1930s. She was nearly an equal to Nick. Not a woman to sit on the sidelines, she was the one to take the initiative. She’d prod, cajole, and tease Nick into taking on a case. Together, they were unstoppable. Yet they were not fully equals.

There were times when Nick's attempts to be chivalrous bordered on patronizing. To keep her from harms way, he variously paid a cabbie to take her to the wrong address,  locked her in a room, and sent her on a wild goose chase, all reflections of gender norms from another time. But their mutual adoration was palpable, expressed in witty banter and shared laughter.


This portrayal of marriage was novel for its time and is still uncommon even today. Their stories were an exquisite combination of comedy, romance, and suspense. What better inspiration could there be for my characters, Kate and Nick?


Fast forward to the present. I wondered: what would a modern-day Nick and Nora look like with cell phones and equal pay? That question prompted me to reimagine a couple defined by the same wit, charm, and playful rapport but as absolute equals. If anything, Kate would hold a slight edge taking the initial lead as investigator, stepping in to assist her friends in their times of crisis.


In the Kate & Nick series, Kate’s the pro, retired from a glamorous museum career, while Nick is the dashing heir. And, for a nuanced twist: Kate is his senior by over a decade. This age flip is no accident. Tales of older women blissfully wed to younger men are a rarity. And when they do pop up? The ladies are labeled ‘cougars.’ Meanwhile, older men with younger wives slide by without so much as a raised eyebrow.  Kate and Nick shake up this old storyline, embracing their age-defying romance with a wink.


Nick, despite his being quite the catch with his affluence and charm, considers himself fortunate to have won Kate's heart. Through her, he's ushered into a vibrant world of museum enthusiasts, much like how Nick introduced Nora to his unique social circle. Kate enriches Nick’s life, showing him a world beyond his own.


Taking a leaf out of Howard Hawks films, I wanted Kate and Nick to be ensconced in a close-knit community of friends and family. Hawks' movies always gave me the sense that I was dropping in on a group of old friends, and I wanted my readers to feel that same sense of camaraderie and belonging in my series. Figures like Kate’s mother, Nick’s parents, and his spirited grandmother, Pepper, fill out the story with a vibrant circle of characters who often step in to help unravel the mysteries. Together, this community of seniors paint a rejuvenated picture of aging. No overtones of dwindling days or pining for yesteryears—just unabated passion and zest.


So, start with the witty banter and lovingly playful relationship that made Nick and Nora icons, but flip the roles. Create a mature couple, with the woman holding an eleven-year advantage over the man. Dive into the culturally rich, museum-laden world that Kate calls home, allowing their mysteries to unfold within this community. Nestle their adventures among friends and family. Set the stage in modern times against the stunning backdrop of Lake Michigan. Weave all these threads together, and you’ve got the Kate & Nick Mysteries.


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