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

June Interviews

6/3 Gretchen Archer, Double Trouble
6/10 Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth
6/17 Annette Dashofy, Til Death
6/24 Adam Meyer

Saturday Guest Bloggers

6/6 Mary Keliikoa
6/13 William Ade
6/20 Liz Milliron

WWK Bloggers:

6/27 Kait Carson
6/30 WWK Writers--What We're Reading Now


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!

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, and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination! All are winners but without Agatha Teapots. Onto 20121!

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."

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.

Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.

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

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!


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Three Words I Never Thought I'd Write by Susan Van Kirk

I’m new to Writers Who Kill, and A Death at Tippitt Pond—my fifth mystery—is coming out June 15 from Encircle Publications. It’s a first mystery in a new series, and the plot relies completely on the results of a DNA test.

Seems simple, right? Uh, no. Not for me.

I should explain that science was the bane of my existence in high school. Imagine my horror when I realized I was required to take a science class my junior year—me, the English and history person. Pictures of my sinking GPA coursed through my brain. This would be a nightmare. I signed up for chemistry and quickly realized my teacher was speaking in a foreign tongue. Moles, protons, Bunsen burners, and possibly explosions—leading to expulsion or possible prison if I killed people—haunted my sleep. How was I going to survive this class? I was nothing if not resourceful. I grabbed a brilliant lab partner who was going into the medical field. With her lead on experiments and endless cramming before tests, I survived. Yolanda saved my GPA. Victory was mine. I had defeated science.

Fast forward to college. Since I had foolishly signed up for physics my last year of high school and dropped it after two hopeless weeks, I now had a one-semester college science requirement. Where was Yolanda when I needed her? Could I survive a second time? The first day of Biology 101, the professor teamed me with a lab partner—a guy from New York City. Imagine my horror when we dissected a fetal pig, and he saved the heart to send to his girlfriend who had recently and unceremoniously dumped him. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t.

Nor am I.

Let’s simply say I sighed with relief when I passed the biology class, and figured I’d never have to deal with science—or my mad scientist lab partner—ever again.

Then I decided to write mysteries. I honestly believe I subconsciously chose to write cozy mysteries rather than detective procedurals because I knew if I wrote the latter I would have to wrestle with science.


My publisher waited two full years before releasing my second Endurance mystery. To keep my audience reading, I decided to self-publish a novella in between the novels. When I wrote The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney, I forgot forensics=science and focused the plot on my detective who was trying to solve a cold case from the 1940s. Sweeney had a murder victim, but identifying her proved difficult because no DNA information existed back then, and unless she was in a missing person’s database, Detective Sweeney had no chance to figure out the victim’s identity or what happened to her. So far, I was relieved—no science for me.

Whoa. How was my detective going to identify this person? With great reluctance, I began researching the science of DNA. I read forensics books, and I talked with a county coroner who was quite an expert on it. While I can’t tell you the solution and spoil the mystery, let’s just say that I figured it out and began to feel a little better about my past wrestling match with science. After all, in this competition I was three and science was zero.

In my latest book, A Death at Tippitt Pond, we’re dealing with a possible inheritance that hinges on a DNA match. Remember the famous trials you’ve watched on television in years gone by? The DNA evidence took FOREVER to come back. My plot couldn’t wait that long. I’d have to tap dance for two hundred pages. Then I discovered a 2010 article about a new DNA test whose results took four hours. HOURS, not months. The study was first published in Analytical Chemistry. Bingo. While the new test wasn’t yet widely used by police departments, the science was there, and—bonus—I could understand it. In the past year, an even faster DNA test has become available. This solved my plot problem and made identification of people and their relatives much faster.

Hooray for science—three words I never thought I’d write.


Annette said...

Welcome to Writers Who Kill, Susan!

I think given half a chance, I could be a science geek. However, I totally understand where you're coming from because I'm that way with math. I'm glad you put aside your science issues long enough to solve your plot problem.

Jim Jackson said...


Welcome to Writers Who Kill and congrats on your upcoming release.

New science saved your plot in this case. I do find it frustrating to find historicals using science that had not been invented by the time of the story.

Grace Topping said...

Glad to have you here at Writers Who Kill, Susan. Fortunately, I didn't have to dissect any animals in school, but I probably would have been uncomfortable with it too.

Kait said...

Welcome to Writers Who Kill, Susan.

So glad you were able to save your plot! That fetal pig heart story, hope you are able to use it someplace.

Congrats on the upcoming release.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Welcome and congrats on the upcoming release! I loved dissection in HS biology, but identifying each organ from our anatomy drawing was tough. It's all about DNA these days.

KM Rockwood said...

Pleased to have you on Writers Who Kill!

Accuracy is important when writing "believable" fiction! Even speculative fiction needs a consistency that supports the readers' willingness to suspend belief. research, whether it's into police procedure, scientific matters or history, is often necessary to write a novel where the story flows, rather than inciting a "wait a minute, how could that be?" reaction.

Congrats on the new publication!

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Welcome...and I’m with you re: science....

Connie Berry said...

Susan! How nice to see you on WWW. Like you, I was definitely an English and history girl. Somehow I got into an advanced math program in junior high (mixed up with someone else??), so that I was put into some math class as a sophomore in high school that was over my head from the first day. My mom (bless her) got me out of it, and because I'd taken algebra and geometry in 9th, my math requirements were finished. Then came college. One of the reasons I went to DePauw University was because the math requirement could be completed by taking some science class. I chose botany (no dissections) and got out alive (barely). Aren't you glad so much information is available online?

Susan said...

Thank you, Connie, for helping me feel I am not alone in this science thing. I didn't mind math, although Advanced Algebra was much easier than geometry. No math requirement in college because I must have remembered some of it since my SAT score eliminated that requirement. I am so thankful for all the information I can find online and use to my advantage! Thanks for much for stopping by with a comment.

Susan said...

Thank you all for such a warm welcome to Writers Who Kill. My children, of course, are a bit concerned about my message that I am writing on a blog with this title. Oh, well. I have read many of your books--reading Grace's now--and enjoyed meeting you at conferences. Thanks again for inviting me on!

Warren Bull said...

Welcome. Great first post.

Beth said...

Loved your first post on WWK. I took Biology 101 in high school and lucked out with a lab partner who could draw: my younger brother. My parents loved being able to ask both of us about homework for the same class. You may meet my brother sometime when my first children's book is published.

Susan said...

Thanks for commenting, Beth. I’ll look forward to your first book.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Welcome to WWK. I'm with you re science. The last science course I took was Tenth Grade Biology. Still, we rely on science. I remember having to do research on blood types as a way of proving or disproving paternity in a romantic suspense.

Susan said...

You are so right, Marilyn.