Friday, July 31, 2009

Murder Hunt

No, Big Brother, you can go elsewhere. My murders are fictional. I'm not hunting for real victims, I'm in search of ideas.

The hunt for good ideas is never-ending. I have all kinds of rough general ideas. Fleshing them out into something that a reader will like--and believe--is something else again.

Today I've been searching through the archives of the NY Times. (I think they could use a better search engine, but it's still a wonderful source.) Arsenic was a common cause of poisoning in the 20s and 30s, partly because it was so prevalent in pesticides sold over the counter. That's something I already knew, thanks to our huge collection of vintage magazines and the collection of mystery books cluttering up my house, but it is drawn from real life happenings.

How-to is something else. I start writing, and my characters want to ramble on, but I have to give them something reasonably intelligent to say, or I'm just wasting time and cyber ink.

Working on this has confirmed my appreciation of Helene Hanff's writings. In one she talks about her difficulty with play writing, saying, "I specialized in plotless charm." and she also mentions that for the most part, she had little appreciation for non-fiction. (It's not "I was there", as she put it.)

I like fiction. Not the "best sellers", as a rule, but I love mysteries and authors like Jane Austen and E.M. Forster.

I only hope that the idea of me coming up with a viable plot and characters doesn't fall under the heading of "fiction" too.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Finally: evidence!

This unlovely mess is a section of the upstairs bath at Before.

(wait for it....)

These are After.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's a Mystery

I do a lot of reading. More specifically, I read--no, devour--mysteries. It's a long standing habit, begun in childhood, when my mother got us a subscription to a Nancy Drew book club. From there I moved on to Trixie Beldon and other YA series, taking in an occasional Agatha Christie, though at the time I couldn't appreciate the subtleties she worked into her books.

As a younger adult I read a few mysteries, but the bulk of my fiction reading fell under the fantasy/science fiction banner, and in the past ten years or so it's swung back to mysteries.

My favorites are either real golden age authors: Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, et al, or modern works whose authors set the scene in an earlier time, 1920s and 30s for preference.

Throughout all of this I've thought about writing one. It happens to most people who do a lot of reading, especially those who field the "you should write one, you read so many you must know how!" comments. I've been hearing a lot of those comments in the past few years from my husband, who has had to put up with stacks of books on the staircase, next to the bed, on the dining room table and even next to the bathtub.

As of last week, count me in as a would-be author of a mystery novel. It really has begun. So far there have been hours that fly...when my last memory is of noon, and I look at the lower right hand corner of the laptop to find that it's suddenly 4:36, and days when half an hour produces no more than four tortured sentences.

I have a setting, main characters, a time period and some gimmicks that aren't, I hope, too cozy. What I need now is persistence, a cohesive plot, and a better plot to crash the publishing industry.

The Bouchercon will be held in Indianapolis, IN this year. I don't know if I'll be able to attend (I think it might come into conflict with the RBS weekend of this year), but if I can I'll absorb all I can in order to do this thing properly.

It's no overnight job but it's possible (if not necessarily probably) that two years from now I'll be a published author.