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

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

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. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Thursday, July 5, 2012


From early childhood we've listened to stories and imagined ourselves in that world. It got even better when we learned to read and could lose ourselves in books we chose. Animal stories, adventures, mysteries like Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys fired our imagination.

A few weeks ago I read a blog -  I don't remember whose - about the difference between plagiarism and inspiration. We all learned in school we must document or acknowledge in some way words taken from another writer. However, we can and do get ideas from our reading. I read once that a famous mystery writer (I won't mention her name) doesn't believe in reading because it might affect her writing, change her voice or some such thing. That might be why after reading three or four of her books, I grew tired of her protagonist because she never seemed to grow or change.

Although some writers do try to copy famous writers - think how many vampires there suddenly are, or quirky, wacky clones of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum - most writers who get inspiration from books they've read put their own spin on it. Like what Gregory Maguire has done with fairy tales with Wicked, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and other books. Or how some writers have taken characters from books from the 19th century and used them in a different way. Laurie R. King did a fine job with her Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell series.

Inspirtion from other authors has been around since books were written. I'm not sure where P.G. Wodehouse got his idea for Bertie and Jeeves, but I do know Dorothy L. Sayers read and enjoyed Wodehouse. Even before I read her biography, I saw similarities between Lord Peter Wimsey and Bertie. Both were of the upper class (common in books of that time) both had exuberant personalities, and both had manservants. Sayers may have been inspired by Bertie and Jeeves, but she changed the characters significantly. Lord Peter is far more intelligent than Bertie. He served in WWI and suffered from the experience, while Bertie never had problems that weren't silly and usually of his own making. Both of their manservants were helpful, but Bunter is totally devoted to Lord Peter with good reason, and Jeeves is rather contemptuous of Bertie. While Bertie fell in and out of love, those affairs never seem to affect him deeply. Lord Peter, on the other hand, had only one love, Harriet Vane.

Moving forward forty or fifty years to America, I see Lord Peter Wimsey in Jane Langton's Homer Kelly. True, he's not of the upper class nor does he have a manservant, but he has the same exuberant personality. Like Wimsey, Homer Kelly is intelligent (He's a college professor.) and inquisitive. Instead of a manservant, he has a wife who supports him and tones down his exuberance at times. And like Wodehouse, and Sayers to a lesser extent, Langton's books are delightfully funny.

As long as there are writers we read and enjoy, those writers in some way inspire the way we write and make us better writers. The three writers I mentioned are among my favorite mystery writers. I'd love to have Jane Langton's ability to describe characters in the unique way she does and her delightful sense of humor. Plus, her plot twists are pure magic. Have they influenced my writing? Maybe, but not obviously. It's more in recognizing what exceptional writing is and working toward achieving that goal in my own voice and style. I'm grateful there are so many good books to read for enjoyment and inspiration.

What writers do you particularly enjoy and admire?
What about their writing strikes a chord with you?



James Montgomery Jackson said...


It's not surprising since we all write fiction that the authors you chose all wrote fiction. As I read your post the first names that popped into my mind were nonfiction writers.

Perhaps those authors who include among others: Barry Lopez, John McPhee, Edwin Way Teale and Peter Matthiessen (who also wrote fiction) informed my sense of the natural world.

While I would love to write as well as any of them, they aren't my models for my writing style, which is much more sparse. They do remind me that writing can make a difference in the world and what we choose to write does matter.

Even if we're writing a "killer mystery" that we hope people will take pleasure in reading.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I'm not sure that "inspires" is the right word. I admire other writers, but I fear that I'll never be able to achieve their mastery. To name a few:
Robert Parker-dialogue and humor
Susan Wittig Albert-command of language and varied genres
Michael Malone-humor and symbolism
Peter Robinson-character arc and plot
Ian Rankin-character development and symbolism
Deborah Crombie-characters/plot
Ellen Crosby-setting and characters
Jacqueline Winspear-history and characters' relationship to their time period.

I've also experience negative incentive from some writers too, but then, I won't go into that!

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I haven't read those authors. I do read some non-fiction, but not as much - mostly biographies. Edward O. Wilson's book NATURALIST was one that dealt with the natural world. I loved that one. Annie Dillard's books do, too, and Barbara Kingsolver's books often have a naturalist theme. Growing up in the country and still living there, makes it natural that I'd write in that vein, too.

Gloria Alden said...

I agree with you, E.B. I admire Jacqueline Winspear, too, and some of the others you've mentioned as well as Louise Penny. I think what they show us is excellent writing we can aspire to. In a critique group I once belonged to, there were some writers who admitted to not reading much, and their writing showed it.

The first conference I attended in Columbus, Ohio, wasn't a mystery conference, but it had agents and publishers we could have a one on one meeting with. A young man sitting next to me waiting his turn for one of them, was totally bummed out because another one had told him 70 pages wasn't enough for a complete book. He told me, "But I wrote all I had to say." He quite obviously was not a reader. I talked to him about adding more description, etc., but he seemed dubious about doing that.

Patg said...

Agatha Christie anyone? Her ability was for show don't tell. I have an analysis of one of her beginning paragraphs done to show how you are suddenly sitting next to Miss Marple and observing exactly what is happening while getting her POV. And it isn't anything but watching her hired gardener attempt to dig up one of her flower beds. I read it everytime I need inspiration.
I'm sure we all know there are really only about 9 story lines and we all vary them when we write. I even have a book titled 20 Master plots. However, there are close to 7 billion people on the planet and they all have their own spin on everything. No matter what you write, your readers are all putting their own interpretation on everything from the characters to the motivations.

Warren Bull said...

I have to limit my answer or it would go on forever. All of the authors suggested are great. Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln can hold me spell-bound, I know LInda had two blogs about writers she admires.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Great post, Gloria!

My biggest influence for prose has to be Charles Dickens. After him comes Virginia Woolf. Dickens for story, for character, for life. Woolf for style, innovation, language.

In the mystery field, Agatha Christie is the classical hallmark for me, but I also love Josephine Tey and Sayers. In the contemporary world, J.A. Jance has been a strong influence, as has Julia Spencer-Fleming, Louise Penny, Deborah Crombie, Susan Wittig Albert, Charles Todd, the late Tony Hillerman, and others.

I don't know that I write particularly like any one of them, but I've learned writer's tricks from all of them, as well as literary novelists Carolyn See, Kent Haruf, Jane Smiley, and science fiction/fantasy writers CJ CHerryh, Ursula le Guin, Jane Lindskold, Charles de Lint.

I was talking with nationally known poet Allison Joseph about the problem of getting creative writing students (college-level) to read. She said, "'They all say I don't want to be influenced.' I tell them 'Yes, you do. You need to be influenced.'" And she's right.

Warren Bull said...

Some writing teachers encourage student to try to write like authors whose work appeals to them as one step on the way to developing their unique styles.

Gloria Alden said...

Yes, Pat. Agatha Christie was a classic mystery writer. I couldn't include everyone. What I was doing was drawing a line between the characters of three different authors over time. You are right that there are only so many story lines, and we all tweak and put our own spin on them.

Gloria Alden said...

You're right, Warren. I could go on and on, too, but I wanted to limit it to those three in which I saw a connection.

I had a poetry teacher once who had us write poems using the same lines and rhythms, but changing the words. It was good practice.

Gloria Alden said...

I agree, Linda, that Dickens was a master at creating characters that came alive. I think his characters are what makes him still widely read today.

I've read most of the mystery writers you have, too, and have admired their writing. I'm still trying to get through the piles and piles of books waiting to be read and enjoyed. Unfortunately, I keep adding to my pile.

Irma said...

Because I like my mystery with a touch of humor, my favorite of the Golden Age is Phoebe Atwood Taylor, an American contemporary of Agatha Christie. Of more recent writers, Dorothy Cannell's The Thin Woman remains my favorite. As always, Gloria, your blog posts are thought provoking!

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Irma. :-) I've not read Phoebe Atwood Taylor. I'll have to look her up. I like Dorothy Cannell, too, and I've found her delightful in person, too, when I've seen her at Malice. I still have a few of hers I need to read.

Norma Huss said...

I can get inspiration from reading almost anything, and have - fiction, history, writing magazines, even conversation. Of course, I don't get that inspiration all the time, but sometimes, when I'm wrestling over a plot point, something will strike me that I can twist to give my plot a boost.