Barb here. I’m so happy to welcome Friend of the Wickeds Vicki Fee to the blog today.
Vickie will give away a signed paperback copy of Til Death Do Us Party to one lucky commenter here.
WHEN DID I BECOME A WRITER?
When people ask how I became a novelist, I usually tell them I worked many years as a newspaper reporter and finally decided I wanted to write my own stories instead of other people’s—and that editors take a dim view of reporters who make up stuff. This is true, but only part of the story. My writing roots go much deeper.
I was the kid who couldn’t wait to write about my summer vacation. While most of my classmates seemed to dread these little writing exercises, I relished them. Not that my summer vacations were all that exciting, but I knew I could make them sound exciting if I just found the right words. By the third grade, I was nerdily reading my way through the 10-inch-thick unabridged dictionary at our house. I started this self-imposed project because I was deadly serious about the school spelling bee. But I soon became much more interested in the meanings and sounds of words than their spelling.
In the fourth grade I won a national essay contest in my age group, which garnered me a congrats over the school public address system, a box of candy from my principal and an appearance on a local TV news show. Not only that, but they gave me a huge pile of cash (a $25 savings bond). My writing career was assured at that moment. However, I spent a few decades writing for school and then writing for newspapers before I broke into fiction.
The mystery writer seed was also planted early on, even if it bloomed late. By age 12 I had moved from Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie. I loved trying to unravel the whodunit. I loved the setting. But more than anything I loved the characters, especially Miss Marple. I daydreamed that Miss Marple was my great aunt with whom I spent summers in St. Mary Mead, having tea, untangling her yarn and—most importantly—helping her solve murders. As years passed, I read voraciously and explored many genres, but my first love remained traditional mysteries. And if I didn’t like the way a novel ended, or thought the author didn’t resolve a subplot the way the she should, I would rewrite it in my head. I believe this is when I became a mystery writer, although I didn’t know it at the time.
I’m now a certified (or certifiable) mystery writer, with three books published and a fourth set to release in a few days. From this side of things, I understand better how my favorite authors sometimes went off course with a subplot or an ending. Writing a novel that weaves together an intriguing plot and compelling characters isn’t easy. I don’t claim to have mastered the mystery, but those rare, precious moments when things come together and I feel like I’m getting it right are glorious. Still, at some point in every manuscript so far there has come a moment when I’ve asked myself, “Why did I ever think I was smart enough to be a mystery writer?” But when one big piece of the puzzle finally falls into place, I think, “I’m brilliant! I’ve just figured out my own mystery.” The one that I made up myself.
Readers: Was there a moment when you knew (at the time or in retrospect) that you would become a writer, or teacher, or doctor or…? Comment or simply say hi to be entered to win Til Death Do Us Party. (Love the title.)