If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th. In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Moving Beyond The Research: A guest blog by Clea Simon

One of the great joys of writing fiction is the freedom to create. We invent characters and then build the worlds for them to inhabit. We throw them into impossible situations, and then we find a wormhole for them to crawl out of. Unlike journalists or other nonfiction writers, we get to simply make stuff up.

However, to give our characters and their worlds verisimilitude, we have to do our research. For while we are spinning tales, we want them to be believed. We need them to be believable. That means if you place your hero in a real city, you can’t have him skip from one part of town to another in an unrealistic time frame. If you kill someone with a particular poison, you should make her final agonies realistic – and that means knowing just what spasms (or whatever) that particular alkali would provoke.

In crime fiction, particularly, we have to know how to kill people. We have to know our guns (if we use them) and our poisons (ditto). Few things will turn readers against a mystery writer than a mistake in something that is more or less easily checkable. And that’s as it should be. Fiction works when the reader can believe in it, when the reader can suspend disbelief and hand over her or his trust to the writer.

That doesn’t mean that we are bound by the physical world, or by the results of our research. If anything, research best serves as a starting point to show us processes – how things work. Once we understand those step-by-step processes, then it is often incumbent on us to move beyond research and reality. And that’s where the fun comes in.

In other words, no matter how fanciful our characters, we have to ground them in reality – of a sort. Does your heroine turn into a butterfly? At least have a working knowledge of pupae and metamorphosis.

This is of interest to me, because I write books with cats in them, and the cats have certain capabilities. In my new book, The Ninth Life, the feline narrator observes things that his human counterpart doesn’t. Of course, I based this on what I know of cats – of their superior senses of smell and hearing, of the way they can read the air. (I have written one nonfiction book and numerous articles on cats.) If I want readers to believe in Blackie, my sentient cat, I needed to make him, first, a believable cat.

This holds true even for smaller details: I have a drug, which I’ve called “scat,” in the book. I liked the play on the cat term – and also the term for animal dung – and modeled both its effects, manufacture, and usage on several drugs: crack cocaine and methamphetamine. It is neither, and, really, it’s a small part of the book. But when Blackie’s sensitive nose shrinks back at an acrid burning smell, I want that smell to be right.  Because my readers are not cats, and they are probably not addicted to drugs. But for a moment, I want them to believe they could be. I want to have gotten it right.

Simon is the Boston Globe-bestselling author of 19 traditional/cozy mysteries in the Theda Krakow, Dulcie Schwartz, and Pru Marlowe pet noir series, most recently Code Grey (Severn House) and When Bunnies Go Bad (Poisoned Pen). In March, her 20th mystery, The Ninth Life (Severn), launched the Blackie and Care series. A former journalist, Clea lives in Massachusetts. Although her books are getting darker, they still always include a cat. She’s not sure why. www.CleaSimon.com


Warren Bull said...

The problem with research is that it is so easy to become involved in what you find that you wander around in it for a long time and forget why you started it.

KM Rockwood said...

Yes, Warren, I know exactly what your mean! Three hours later, well into my writing time window, I will look up and realize I've spent it reading things on the internet, many of which have nothing to do with my original question.

Clea, I agree with you completely on the need to be "believable" and consistent in our stories. Readers are willing to suspend belief when we ask them to, but then the story needs to continue in a fashion that follows that premise, not asks them to continually modify it.

Margaret Turkevich said...

I enjoy doing research, and fuss and fret distilling what I've learned into a plot, just enough to keep the story moving. I need to learn a lot about a new field before I feel confident writing about it. So most of the results of my research live in a file instead of on a printed page.

Gloria Alden said...

I understand getting sucked into the research, but although I'll do it for my books if necessary, I do more of it for my blogs. For my books I chose a location I've lived in my whole life only creating a small fictional town like others in my area. I have cats in my books and dogs, too. Both animals I have for pets.

I totally agree with you Clea, that if you're going to write about a place or something you're not familiar with it's very important to do research.