by Julie, staying put in Somerville, adding to my mask collection
This month the theme of the blog is celebrating our seventh anniversary of the blog. Today, I thought I’d talk about seven wonderful things about being a mystery writer.
Stress reduction. Crime writers are usually very nice people, and there’s a good reason for this. Killing people on the page is a fabulous way to reduce stress. As a writer it becomes habit to step back and observe human behavior. Particularly awful behavior is fodder to the imagination. Personal affronts become motives. Nasty people become victims. It’s really very helpful.
Research. Research is a wonderful way to while away hours and hours. I sometimes refer to it as the rabbit hole of research, because you can get stuck following different paths. What is really interesting is how little of the work ends up in the book. Most of it goes into the writer’s brain and gets churned around so that authenticity showsn on the page without being technical. I loved learning about clock making for my clock shop series, but I didn’t explain things in the book. Instead the research made Ruth look like she knew what she was doing, and loved it.
Creating new worlds. This is one of the great things about writing any sort of fiction. Making up a new world is a blast. I get to decide who lives where, what the businesses are, how the local government works, and who does what when. Writing a series is a particular joy, because the world keeps expanding. There’s a lot to keep track of, but it’s so much fun.
Heightened reality. I love theater for the same reason that I like mystery writing, at least the kind of writing I do. My books have enough to do with real life that it connects with people, but reality is much bigger than real life. The houses, the hobbies, the characters, the coincidences. They are all extra.
Puzzling plots. I love this part of writing mysteries, probably because the Golden Age of detective fiction is how I fell in love with the genre, and puzzles were so important to Agatha, Dorothy L, Ngaio and the rest. This part isn’t easy, because it involves tricking the reader until the end, but providing a solution that makes sense. In my current work in progress, the story is great but I’m having trouble with the puzzle, so it’s taking me a bit longer to get the book moving. I’ll fix it, but this is the hardest part. In my opinion, Agatha was particularly good at this, so rereading her books as a writer has been wonderful.
Justice prevails. Writing a book where justice prevails and order is restored is a tonic for my soul. I am a relentlessly optimistic person, and that can be challenging. Real life is isn’t always fair, or just. I like that my books help folks escape that for a bit of time. Writing them affords me the same escape.
The community–readers and writers both. This may sound pandering, but I mean it. One of the best parts of being a mystery writer is the crowd I run with. The Wickeds, and all of you who read and follow the blog. The people I meet at conferences and events. The writers who I look forward to seeing a few times a year, or online more often. This is a wonderful community, and I am so blessed to be part of it.
So, these are seven of the reasons I love being a mystery writer. Fellow writers, what would you add? Readers, why do you love this genre?