Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Inger Ash Wolfe

From Julia Buckley's interview with Inger Ash Wolfe, author of The Calling and The Taken:

[Buckley]: I’m curious about the name Hazel Micallef; even in the book people mispronounce it, and Hazel corrects them (and, in the process, the reader who might have gotten it wrong). How did you choose this distinctive name?

Names are hard! I chose Hazel’s first name easily—she just struck me as a Hazel from the get-go. The name suggests hardness and intelligence to me (a hard-won kind of wisdom, too), but there’s also something lonesome and soft about the name too. The last name was more calculated: it’s originally a Maltese name that spread across the globe and is found especially in British Isles. You find it in Wales and Scotland now, tough places to prosper. So the last name also suggests a hardness I like. I like, also, that it means “judge” in Maltese.

Hazel pleases me because she’s a female cop who possesses qualities that mystery fiction usually only bestows on male cops: she’s older, divorced, lonely, battling a physical ailment, tied to her job despite its miseries. This seems realistic, yet few of mystery’s female heroes are allowed to be old. Were you consciously trying to address this double standard when you created Hazel?

Well, there is Miss Marple, and Jane Tennison is in her forties, but yes, there are few female detectives in their sixties in continuing series like this one. I wasn’t trying to right a wrong when I created Hazel, but I did hope she would feel new to readers. Also, breaking away from the template of who detectives tend to be in modern crime fiction, I thought I’d feel more freedom to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue