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

February Interviews

2/5 Heather Weidner, Glitter, Glam, and Contraband
2/12 Rhys Bowen, Above The Bay of Angels
2/19 Elizabeth Penney, Hems & Homicide
2/26 Annette Dashofy, Under The Radar

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
2/1 Valerie Burns
2/8 Jeannette de Beauvoir
2/15 Kathryn Lane

WWK Bloggers: 2/22 Kait Carson, 1/28 & 1/29 Special Interviews with Agatha Nominees by Paula Gail Benson


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.

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

Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!

KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.

Paula Gail Benson's story "Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest" appears in Love in the Lowcountry an anthology by the Lowcountry Romance Writers available 11/5 in e-book and print format on Amazon. The anthology includes fourteen stories all based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Kaye George's "Grist for the Mill" was published in A Murder of Crows anthology, edited by Sandra Murphy on October 9th.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p


Saturday, March 23, 2019

You Don’t Look a Day Over 90 by Kait Carson

We’ve been having a vibrant craft discussion on the Guppies Listserv centered on writing the mystery series. For those who don’t know, Guppies is an Internet chapter of Sisters in Crime. Although I’m more lurker than participant, I’ve recently begun a new series, so I’ve filled several notebooks with information, reminders and cross-references that I gleaned from the discussion.

I anticipate the series to consist of twelve books and have paragraph outlines for each. As part of my research, I decided to revisit long-running series, old and new, that I have enjoyed, to see how they adhered to the advice from the Guppy commenters. It’s a great trip down memory lane. Reading a series as a whole is an eye opener as bits and pieces that are forgotten in the lapse of time between books fall into place and information gleaned as characters mature becomes meaningful, and sometimes bittersweet when you know much loved secondary characters will be leaving. There was also a caution to be learned.

Most of the series I read are in real time. For a writer who writes in real time, dating characters can be a tricky. Tying your characters’ ages to a significant event can ultimately age them out of the lead. In one series I revisited the early books referenced the character’s memories of WWII. He was ten at the time and the event significant enough that the reader can date it to 1941. The writer has stopped referring to the character’s childhood memories, which is good, because he is still employed by a police agency and sleuthing in 2019. 

Other books in my favorite series refer to characters’ service in Viet Nam or the Gulf War, or presence in the town of Lockerbie, or on the mound at the Twin Towers, in Iraq or Iran. All of those references are fine, in their own time, but they are very quickly aging characters in real time. It’s great shorthand for a writer. Those few phrases establish so much about a character. They’ve given service to their country, they’ve been in bad situations, and they are of a certain age. Unfortunately, if the series continues, the character is also in danger of aging out.

We discussed this at our local library book club. Members easily recalled the names of characters who were tied to events and quickly calculated their ages. A few confessed to no longer reading some series because they had visions of aging detectives stooped and stumbling trying to solve crimes even though their personal description was at odds with the one on the page. Yet when asked how old their favorite characters were that weren’t tied to significant events few had hard dates to offer. Most guessed around 30 or 40 depending on the book. Oddly enough if the book offered a hero and a heroine, the readers often defined the ages by the difference between the two.  The moderator asked if the non-event dated characters aged. Very few of the group were sure and most said no.

Readers and writers, do you keep a mental birthday list of your favorite series characters? How do you know if they have aged?


Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I like feisty women of a certain age characters, and don't think about their calendar age, which could be forty or eighty.

Kait said...

I agree, Margaret. Do you find it limiting when the author pins an age on the character?

Warren Bull said...

I don't pay attention. Miss Marple must have been well over 100.

Kait said...

I agree, Warren, and she never dropped a stitch!

Grace Topping said...

I had started my book with the intention of making my character a mature woman in her 60s but realized that wouldn't fly today. So I dropped her age to early 40s. At my age, I would have a hard time writing about a much younger character. Besides, all of my cultural references wouldn't be appropriate for a younger character. I like that Sue Grafton anchored her character firmly in the 1980s and didn't refer to her age or the passing of time. Smart move since she didn't have to deal with modern technology. Hard to have a character in a rough situation when most readers would say, "What about her cell phone?"

Gloria Alden said...

No, I don't keep a list of the characters ages in the mystery series I read. In my own series, I do keep track of their ages, but then my books go by the month in the year for each book. The first one in June, second in July and on until the tenth book I'm writing now which is in March.
My books are present time, but I don't include dates so future readers will still think it's present time. Both of my main characters are in their early 40s. John a year older than Catherine.

Nancy Nau Sullivan said...

Kait, Thanks for your comments...I'm a Gup. Where are you finding the mystery discussion?

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Kait, I do find it tiresome. I want my readers to inject something of themselves in my characters, and form their own vision of the characters, whether they imagine the character to be 25 or 45.

Kait said...

@Grace, completely understand and it can get so tricky! I wonder sometimes if Sue Grafton didn't have a hard time keeping those last few books anchored in the 80s. Some sharp-eyed beta reading had to be involved to keep the early digital advances happening then from moving too fast.

Kait said...

@Gloria Your method of dating characters is my preferred one and I note that in longer running serials does tend to be the default of writers. Sometimes, there is no help for it when the inciting incident is tied to a major event. Then again having a character be overaged by the inciting incident is a good news/bad news situation. It does mean the series has been on-going for a significant number of years. Nancy drove a roadster in my early Nancy Drews, that was dated when I read them, they were soon to be updated, but it is a nice problem to have.

Kait said...

@Nancy - Fin Wave - check the listserv for craft discussion plotting a series. There were topics on all aspects of series development. Guppies is a fantastic resource. Something under character development touched off this topic in tandem with my recent series reading in order addiction.

Kait said...

@Margaret - precisely. The more my readers can make my characters theirs the deeper they will care about them.