Fans and Readers Become Characters and Suspects

As the first author to directly involve readers in his novels, in this case historical mysteries, James Musgrave, a self-published and independent entrepreneur and retired college professor, held a recent Rafflecopter raffle. Five of his readers were chosen to become suspects and/or red herrings in his third mystery. THE STOCKTON INSANE ASYLUM MURDER will feature his five readers, by name and by physical description. They will also have some of their admitted “strange idiosyncrasies” expanded upon in these portrayals. “We are all, after all, wearing our various masks each moment,” he said. “This is just one more mask I will give my reader to wear for the fun and excitement of being insane.”

These “extreme makeovers” of fans into characters will be crafted on his series Facebook page:

After completing the characterizations, Musgrave will then post the results to the main followers on the web.  Musgrave has taken on the misogynous and anti-immigrant policies of Nineteenth Century California in this new series, and his first two mysteries have been reviewed favorably by Kirkus and other media. If this experiment goes as well as it seems to be doing, he plans to do it again in his fourth mystery, which will be about a nominee to the Supreme Court who is murdered, and the team of investigators from San Francisco, led by Clara Shortridge Foltz, Esq., the first woman admitted to the California State Bar, will discover that this nominee was also a rapist and womanizer.

All visitors to the Portia of the Pacific Facebook fan page will be able to follow along with the author every step of the way in his innovative and creative journey. Musgrave hopes he gets many more followers and readers to pay homage to his wife, Ellen, and to mystery lovers everywhere. Proceeds will also be going to fight Alzheimer’s Disease.

Here’s what one of the five “patients” said about being turned into a fictional character:

I’ve enjoyed watching the author take aspects of the real me to craft a fictional character. It’s been especially interesting to see how he has gleaned information about my thoughts and personality from our personal, often unrelated conversations, my own Facebook posts, and my comments on posts and interwoven them into the character development and plot of the story.

It’s been fun to have my character be allowed to act out on thoughts and beliefs in ways that aren’t allowed in normal society as well. Would I actually stab someone for telling me how to eat my food or for chewing too loud? Probably not. Would I LIKE to? Absolutely!!

Side note: I haven’t shared this with Mr Musgrave, but I did once stab a boy through the hand with a pencil when I was 12 or 13! Not for the same reason my character stabbed her uncle, however! In this case, art unintentionally imitates life!

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About musgrave

Owner, Publisher, and former Caltech Supervisor and English professor for 25 years. Developer of the Embellisher ePub3 Mobile Creation, Distribution and Sales platform. Call 619-750-7360 or

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