Playing with Planets
Astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought her chosen profession would bring danger into her life, but her outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, makes her the target of San Francisco’s recently-arrived cult leader, Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The followers of the power hungry preacher will stop at nothing to quell the voices of those who would stand in his way and Julia’s at the top of his list. She’s willing to bet the charismatic Reverend is a Mercury-ruled individual, and she knows all too well that Mercury wasn’t just the messenger of the gods, he was a trickster and a liar as well.
The Zodiac Mysteries aren’t really about astrology – they’re all about crime – murderers and victims, but Julia Bonatti, my protagonist astrologer, eventually sorts out the players and spots the culprit using astrology. Now, you may not believe in astrology, you may poo-poo the whole idea of using it for character analysis, but Julia doesn’t and she’s invariably correct (if I do say so myself).
So, not only do I have to plot the crime(s) and write the book, but it’s impossible not to talk about natal charts if Julia’s busy solving crimes with her skills. I wanted her to be smart. I wanted her to really be able to figure out who is in danger and who committed the deed and accurately portray the signs and aspects of all involved.
In The Madness of Mercury, Julia speaks out against a power-hungry preacher and quickly becomes a target of his followers – the Army of the Prophet. Now, Mercury is the planet that indicates how we communicate, how we speak, how we write, how our thinking processes work. Hopefully, this planet works well in an individual’s life, but hard aspects can create stubbornness or unrealistic thinking or even obsession. You can see how someone with an afflicted Mercury might go off the beam. So, besides being mentioned in the title, Mercury had to be particularly important in this preacher’s chart, right? Julia’s convinced he’s a silver-tongued devil, just like the Greek god, but yet he’s charismatic and able to sway the crowd. So what should the preacher’s chart look like?
You guessed it, he’s a Gemini. He’s born on June 10, 1969, and with his broad shoulders and distinctive mane of hair, he’d have to have Leo on the Ascendant, handsome and charismatic. That birthday would give him a stellium of three planets – Pluto, Jupiter and Uranus in Mercury-ruled Virgo in his third house. Happily, that birthdate also gives him a conjunction between Mars and Neptune, the ability of manipulate and sway people with his words. Julia wonders, “Is he a con man, a sociopath or just insane?” He’d be the right age too – 47, old enough to know better.
Sorry, Geminis! I’m not just picking on your sign. Not at all. No zodiac sign will be safe in this series!
In another book, my murderer is a greedy, revengeful middle-aged man with a strong power drive. Well, the year is now 2016, so let’s backtrack. Let’s give him a sun sign that’s in hard aspect to a few of the very heavy planets – like Uranus, Saturn and Pluto. Rotating the movements of the planets, the last time those three lined up in that type of configuration was 1974 – Saturn and Pluto were conjoined in Virgo and Uranus was in opposition in Pisces. The Uranus connection would make him unpredictable and explosive. That works! That means my murderer has to be age 42 and a Virgo. Are all Virgos evil? Not at all, they’re generally well-behaved, mild-mannered and extremely discriminating, if not critical. Can a Virgo go bad? Oh, sure. Especially if they appear in one of my books.
Now I needed a chart for his victim – she’s a loose cannon, so let’s give her several planets in Sagittarius. Not that Sagittarius is a bad sign, not at all. Sags are optimistic, generous and usually leaping off into the next thing. It’s just that having SO many planets in that sign is a bit like being born without brakes. Did I find a good birthdate for her? Sure did, she has four planets -- Sun, Venus, Mercury and Mars – all clustered near a Sagittarian ascendant. Full of personality and a zest for life. But watch out, because Pluto is transiting her natal Mars and Ascendant. She’s in real danger!
You may think this is nitpicking or splitting hairs, but it’s important work. What if some astrologer stumbled upon the Zodiac Mysteries and became irate because the planets and stars weren’t accurate. That’s as bad as having a sloppy copy editor!
Who do you think I should I pick on next? What about those Scorpios? They have such a bad rep already, I could have a lot of fun with them!
Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury is the first in the series. Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the Soup Lover’s Mysteries set in Vermont from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.
Book title: The Madness of Mercury
Publish date: June 8, 2016
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Specific tags: mystery, San Francisco, astrology, North Beach, cults
About the book: The Zodiac Mysteries feature San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, who never thought murder would be part of her practice. Julia sought answers and found solace in astrology after the death of her fiancé in a hit and run accident. Since then, she’s successfully built a clientele of the city’s movers and shakers.
In The Madness of Mercury, Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, makes her the target of a recently-arrived cult preacher who advocates love and compassion to those less fortunate. B ut the power-hungry preacher is waging war on sin and his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence those who would stand in his way. Julia is at the top of his list.
Social media links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zodiacmysteries/ (Connie di Marco Author)
Links for The Madness of Mercury:
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1UapU0B
Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/1SBPKeq
Goodreads: http:// bit.ly/1ou4EXV