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

August Interviews

8/5 Lucy Burdette, The Key Lime Crime

8/12 Maggie Toussaint, All Done With It

8/19 Julie Mulhern, Killer Queen

8/26 Debra Goldstein, Three Treats Too Many

August Guest Bloggers

8/8 Leslie Wheeler

8/15 Jean Rabe

August Interviews

8/22 Kait Carson

8/29 WWK Authors--What We're Reading Now


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Family gossip makes for good tales

Dee Gatrell

As the mother of four and grandmother of many, I find myself writing a lot about families. We all have that family grapevine where the gossip flows, fizzes and ferments. And let’s face it, no one has that perfect Ozzie and Harriet family. Even Ozzie and Harriet didn’t have the wonderful family that was portrayed on TV.

A few years ago I sold a story about my dysfunctional family to Chicken Soup. This was about my mother and her siblings. They were all dead, so when I was asked for them to sign a release, I told the publisher they were all dead. But I later realized I did use one family member in the story who still lived, my cousin George. Thankfully I didn’t put him in a bad spotlight. I simply said that he rolled on the floor laughing when our mother’s brother, Uncle Bill, left George’s parent’s house looking a bit miffed after I so sweetly told him things my cousin had always wanted to say, but wasn’t allowed to say. My uncle used to ask everyone who he should leave his money to when he died. Most family members said he should leave it to them or one of their children. I told him I thought he should buy a cat and leave it all to the cat. 

I have always wanted to write about something that has been steady fodder for the family grapevine. Is it true my cousin killed her husband so she could marry another man? And how does she handle that guilt now that she’s married to a preacher? If she did kill him, where did she bury him? Would it be possible to find a dead body where she used to live? What if I write the story and it turns out it really is true? Let’s face it, families love to stretch the truth a bit in order to make the others enjoy their tales.

There must be a lot of families with secrets to hide. It could be the preacher who killed the husband. Or maybe it was her husband and the preacher’s wife the cousin did in. Looking at a family as large as mine, I could probably find a lot of skeletons rattling around in our closets, and I’ll bet you could, too.

It might be more fun to write about a beloved uncle, aunt or cousin who no one would suspect of murder or thievery and make them the villain. Say your beloved Aunt Lulu was a real character. No one ever believed her when she said she was so angry with her husband at times she’d like to kill him. Everyone knew she was only kidding. Or was she? He disappeared years ago and everyone said he ran off with his secretary. Aunt Lulu joked about it and said she was the lucky one. But twenty years later when her septic tank needs replaced, they find a body in there.

Next time you get stuck for a story idea, look closely at your kin. You never know what skeletons lurk in their closets. And don’t forget the disclaimer: Any relationship between the characters depicted, and any person living or dead, is purely coincidental.


E. B. Davis said...

Family relationships are a great source of ideas for murder mysteries, Dee. I don't know of any family that is truely functional. All have skeletons in the closet. Some are shameful secrets, but others are just hurtful events that no one wants to talk about.

I remember finding out that my aunt had been previously married to an unsavory character. She'd been duped. Somehow, in the eyes of the family, she was no longer a victim, but a stupid, gullible girl.

If only they'd been sympathetic rather than judgmental. But that episode has potential for a plot!

Pauline Alldred said...

When my brother looked into our family history, he found out our grandfather had been imprisoned for killing his sister's husband. We'd always seen our grandfather, who died young in an industrial accident, as the man who loved kids and animals. My grandfather and his sister were orphans so they only had each other. Was the sister's husband abusive and why was my grandfather let out of prison? A number of ideas present themselves.

Warren Bull said...

I once overheard a conversation by who sisters who had to be in their middle eighties. One snapped at the other, "Mother always loved you more than me."

Unknown said...

I love Dee's writing. Her characters seem very real.

diane said...

family gossip --- oh where do I start? I have enough to keep me writing for years. haha

Carole Nelson Pond said...

I agree that families are the source of great stories. The book I am working on is about the strong women who preceded me and their secrets. My mother shocked me a few years before she died by telling me that my father was not the love of her life, but rather his best friend. It was a relationship that started after my father died still..