Early on, in the 1970s, I think the Michaels books were considered contemporary “gothics” because they usually included a romantic subplot, but I think they fall more solidly into the mystery/suspense category. The romance definitely takes a backseat to solving the murder or dealing with the paranormal threat, and while sometimes the heroine faces the typical gothic dilemma of having two attractive men interested in her, but not being sure she can trust either one, neither turns out to be the ideal knight in shining armor and she always “rescues” herself. Mertz/Michaels has been very much on my mind the last year or two, because discovering her books probably gave me the courage to forge ahead with my latest, Dark Music — I never really could make it work as a hard-core horror novel, but I think works well as a contemporary paranormal mystery.
I met Barbara briefly almost a decade ago at the Malice Domestic Mystery Conference in Maryland, and she signed one of her Michaels books for me. She pleasantly volunteered that she had stopped writing that line “because I ran out of ideas.” I guess after 29 Michaels books, she was entitled! When I returned to Malice this spring, she was scheduled to appear again and I had hoped to give her a copy of Dark Music, but at the last minute she was hospitalized and couldn’t make it. Perhaps that was the start of a decline from which she never recovered? At any rate, I regret I didn’t get that chance to connect with her one more time–I’m sure it was just a big a disappointment to her many fans who had jammed the ballroom to hear her speak–and she will be sorely missed. For more information, check out her website, http://www.mpmbooks.com/bio.html (“MPM” stands for “Mertz/Peters/Michaels.” For a special glimpse into her imaginative, witty personality, be sure to click on the link for her 85th birthday party!
Do you have any memories of Barbara’s books and/or of meeting her in person? If so, please share!