by Julie, summering in Somerville
I love creating worlds and bashing them into other worlds. Especially when it works.
I am preparing for my September 28 launch of WREATHING HAVOC, the fourth book in my Garden Squad series. I’ve been thinking about what to talk about in blog posts and on panels, and the thing that strikes me is that the book is about worlds colliding, both for the characters and the author.
What do I mean by worlds colliding? In real life, of course, our worlds collide all the time. We meet people who share one interest and realize that they also share another. Someone from your church ends up in a class you’re taking. You’re reading the Facebook post of someone you went to college with, and realize that they know someone you currently work with. Attending a grant writing workshop and recognizing someone from your Sisters in Crime chapter gives you a start: worlds collide in unexpected ways. Have you ever been visiting somewhere and you see someone from home? Your tourist life and home life collide.
As a writer, my mystery writing world collides with my theater world in a major subplot of WREATHING HAVOC. The two worlds collided before, of course, in my Theater Cop series. But theater hasn’t played a part in the Garden Squad series until now, though I mentioned the theater world a bit in DIGGING UP THE REMAINS. Having the world of the past and the present collide affects all of the characters in WREATHING HAVOC, and it was fun creating both of those worlds and then bashing them into each other.
Worlds colliding are always part of the plot of a cozy. Gardening and murder are worlds colliding. But I always enjoy it when there is expertise or a new angle on those colliding worlds. Elizabeth Peters expertise in Egyptology colliding with history and mystery are wonderful ways for worlds to collide. In Three Days of the Condor, the world of research collides with the world of espionage. In Dr. Who the world of what is collides with the world of what could be.
The tricky part for mystery writers is colliding worlds in a way that helps tell the story, but doesn’t feel contrived. Coincidences resulting from worlds colliding have to be handled carefully. “Her cousin worked with a safe cracker? What?!?!” doesn’t work if that’s the reader’s response. If a reader’s gut response is “pul-leeze”, the writer needs to rethink the storyline. Collisions need to feel organic. That’s harder than it sounds.
When writing a series, colliding worlds helps upend expectations, and adds layers to characters and storylines. It can also shake things up.
Readers, what are your favorite examples of worlds colliding? I’m going to choose one commenter and send them an ARC of WREATHING HAVOC.