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

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

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), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

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. 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 July 31, 2018.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sleuthing in a Mystery Novel or in Real Science

Today we welcome author and scientist J L Greger to Salad Bowl Saturday.

~ Jim


Many Americans consider science to be collection of boring facts, as dry as the stuffed animals and bones in natural history museums. That unfortunate misconception probably reflects poorly taught classes in school.

Science should be thought of as a verb not a noun. Science is the collecting of information on the natural world in an organized and systematic way and the applying the accumulated knowledge to solve problems or test hypotheses.

Aha, you say. That definition of science sounds a bit like crime solving and mystery writing, actually novel writing in general.

Writing a novel is a lot like doing a science experiment.
1. Writers and scientists both do a lot of sleuthing. Granted, scientists try to quantitate their observations more than writers. And writers’ descriptions of their observations are hopefully more colorful than journal articles.

2. They both organize their observations into a whole, which writers call plots and scientists call hypotheses.

3. They both test and refine their “whole.” Writers edit their prose; scientists run additional experiments.

4. Both require a lot of hard work to gain occasional flashes of insights. To paraphrase Thomas Edison, they’re  “one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Why did I drag you through this discussion?
I’m trying to explain why so many scientists and physicians became writers of mysteries and thrillers. Consider Michael Crichton (a physician by training), Kathy Reichs (a forensic anthropologist), Robin Cook (a physician).

And in the process I’m explaining how as a retired biology professor I became a writer of medical mystery/suspense novels: Coming Flu and the recently released Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. Even worse, I was at one time an associate dean in a medical school, the perfect spot to observe... (I must choose the adjective carefully because I don’t want repercussions. I could say wise even profound, egotistical, funny, or aberrant maybe weird. I’ll say…) interesting behavior and thought patterns of faculty and staff.

Do you want to be a medical school “insider?”
Meet the scientists and physicians in Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight.

Linda Almquist, the protagonist, is beginning two miserable processes – losing weight and fitting into a new job as the interim associate dean of a medical school. Things get tougher when she is told that two diet doctors at the school may be endangering the health of their obese subjects.

The diet doctors (Izzy Roth and Richard Varegos) think they can help obese patients lose weight by altering the bacteria in their guts. (Sound weird? This is an active and legitimate area of research. Check out the journal Science, volume 336, pages 32-33 in 2012). Before Linda can even begin her investigation of the allegations against the diet doctors, she finds Izzy dead. Was it murder?

You’re in a medical school.” Omar (the medical examiner) walked closer to Hitchings (the lead police officer) and spoke more softly. “Everyone in this building probably knows how to kill someone without using a gun or knife. A complete tox screen will take weeks. And this woman was only in her thirties, pretty young to die suddenly.”

Linda and police suspect Richard. Who wouldn’t? He’s a wheeler-dealer.
Linda Almquist, who seldom even smiled, laughed.
Richard Varegos had done it again. He had arranged books and a computer on the front counter of the hospital pavilion for a photo shoot. In the resulting glossy, full-color flyer, he sat with at his make-believe teak desk in his supposedly marble-walled office. She read the flyer’s title: THE DIET DOCTOR HAS ANSWERS FOR YOUR WEIGHT PROBLEMS.

Was there no end to his ego?

But they can’t ignore the strange behavior of several of the old-timers in the medical school. What secret could the quarrelsome Millie Peak, the old Casanova Abel Raines, and the authoritative dean share?

Although the characters of this southwestern medical school are fictional, they’ll seem real (I hope) as Linda chases clues and shadows through the labyrinths of the medical school and commiserates with her sister Sara (the protagonist of Coming Flu) at various restaurants around Albuquerque.

How can you start sleuthing now?
Murder a New Way to Lose Weight is available at Amazon, so is Coming Flu 


You can learn more about J. L. Greger, professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, at her website (www.jlgreger.com) and her blog J. L. Greger’s Bugs (http://jlgregerblog.blogspot.com). She and her Japanese Chin Bug live in the American Southwest. Bug is the one non-fictional character in her books. He’s also the cutest and nicest one.


Gloria Alden said...

I'm interested in science, although I never worked in the scientific field. It was an early dream of mine to own a really state of the art microscope like those I used in my college biology class. Even though I didn't pursue a science career, I made sure my third grade students had more science adventures than reading from a text book. Our first unit of the year was a month long one studying insects, arachnids and earthworms conducting experiments and going the whole route starting with their hypothesis. My room not only had a science center, when we were in the little critter unit, my room was full of chirping crickets and the occasional grasshopper that escaped and led the kids on a merry chase. I also had a list of Super Science Spelling words added to their weekly spelling list like; entomologist, photosynthesis, etc.

I wrote the titles of your books on my TBR list. They sound like books I'd like to read.

JL Greger said...

Gloria, sounds like you were a great teacher. We often overlook how important grade school experiences in science are. I always said by the time I got them in graduate school all I could do was sand off the rough edges. They were already formed in how they thought about science.

I also want to thank Jim Jackson for hosting me.
JL Grger

James Montgomery Jackson said...

"Science should be thought of as a verb not a noun. Science is the collecting of information on the natural world in an organized and systematic way and the applying the accumulated knowledge to solve problems or test hypotheses."

The main advantage of a science (or mathematics) eduction is less in the subject material and more in developing a way of understanding the world.

Science teaches us how to develop hypotheses and question them. Mathematics teaches us that world we construct depends not only on the "rules" but the assumptions (or starting point) that exist before starting the rules.

I everyone knew these two basic ways of understanding the world, the politicians would have a much harder time spouting absolute nonsense and getting away with it.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

JL, since I was a self-contained teacher and didn't have to switch classes, I had a lot more freedom than the teachers who only taught one subject for a set amount of minutes. I could also extend my science lessons into math problem solving, writing stores and/or poetry. I did the same thing with social studies. I also gave the kids the facts about snakes, arachnids, etc. and how important they were in the ecosystem. One of the highlights of our week long study of earthworms was the great earthworm race on the last day. Each student had a worm they'd kept in a container on their desk the whole week. They named it, measured it, looked for bristles under magnifying glasses, etc. plus wrote stories or poems about their worm. There were two circles on a large tagboard. Four students at a time put their worms in the center circle and the worm that reached the outer circle first was the winner of that round. They were not allowed to poke or touch their worm, but oh boy could they cheer and coax their worm. Finally, the winning worm from each round had a run off to see which worm was the fastest. The winners got a prize, but everyone who participated in the week long study got gummy worms. I sure loved teaching this age. What fun they were.

jrlindermuth said...

Janet, loved your accurate comparison of science and writing. You also reminded me the dean of mystery writing, Arthur Conan Doyle, was also a doctor.
Coming Flu is already on my TBR list. This one sounds equally interesting.

marja said...

I'm not a doctor, but I can sure understand what you're saying. Excellent post, and thank you for putting things in a new perspective for me.
Marja McGraw

JL Greger said...

Glad I struck a nerve with several of you. Jim's right. Good science education emphasizes thinking logically not facts per se. That's why I like to read and write mysteries, they make you think.
JL Greger