By OLINE H. COGDILL
Some people call them Easter eggs, others little gems.
I call them bits of business, and sometimes homages.
I am referring to those little references to other authors that many writers include in their plots. A kind of wink-wink to readers.
Some writers will have their characters reading others’ novels. Some will have their characters run into another character, or even another author, making the encounter an organic part of the plot.
For example, in Ace Atkin’s Robert B. Parker’s Kickback, Boston private detective Spenser makes the evening news. His story is reported by Hank Phillippi Ryan, who, in addition to being the award-winning author of the Jane Ryland series, also is an award-winning television journalist, having won 32 Emmys and 13 Edward R. Murrow awards for her reporting.
But one of the most unusual—and poignant—references is in Alex Marwood’s newest novel, The Darkest Secret.
Marwood, who is profiled in the latest issue of Mystery Scene magazine (Fall 2016, No. 146), honors her grandmothers, who were both authors.
Marwood, whose real name is Serena Mackesy, comes from a line of authors.
Both her grandmothers were successful novelists in Great Britain.
Her maternal grandmother was the award-winning Margaret Kennedy whose novel The Constant Nymph was the top bestseller of the 1920s and was recently relaunched in the U.K.
Her paternal grandmother, Leonora Mackesy, supported her family by writing under the names Leonora Staff and Dorothy Rivers in the genre called “housemaids novels,” or, as Marwood added, “straight up romance.”
So Marwood sprinkles references to her grandmothers’ works throughout The Darkest Secret. One character is referred to as The Constant Nymph.
There are references to The Midas Touch, which was published by Kennedy in 1938 and was a Daily Mail book of the month.
Marwood makes several references to works by her grandmothers, both of whom would, I think, be proud of their granddaughter’s gripping, well-plotted novels.