Here I am again, about to start a new novel in my Haunted Library mystery series. Death on the Shelf celebrated its book birthday this past week, and I'm in the midst of a virtual book tour and other methods of promotion as I continue to write guest blogs and interviews. My editor has gone over Dewey Decimated, the sixth book in the series, and I'm currently addressing her notes and edits. For a while now I've been thinking about book number seven.
My mysteries often have two plot lines that eventually converge, and the plot lines on which this book is based came to me immediately. That's all I know so far and it's not for lack of thinking. The criminal element in this book revolves around art. But in what capacity? I've considered storylines that involve art theft, art forgery and fake and illegal antiquities. All possibilities. Then I have to decide who's crooked, who ends up murdered, and how my sleuth will put two and two together and find the killer and the thieves.
Will I ever fashion an entire novel incorporating all these elements? How did I manage to write novels until now? A good friend and fellow author reminds me that I go through this with every book I write. It's somewhat comforting to know that many of my fellow authors go through the same morass of doubt and concern.
The solution, I've discovered, is to turn to what I already know. Book number seven is part of a series, which means many of my characters, the tone, and the setting are well established. One of my two plot lines comes directly from the previous book in the series. This always happens without any conscious effort on my part. It's as though my characters are pushing the story forward. While every book in the series stands alone, there are links to the continuous saga of my characters' private lives--their loves and friendships, experiences and adventures. These will help me figure out the mystery part of the story. And as soon as I've finished writing my final interview and have given away my last giveaway, I'll settle down and let the ideas I need come to me. And I'll start to write my next novel.