Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How I Did It--The Confession of a Mystery Writer

What inspired you to write “Death by Didgeridoo”?

A reluctant lawyer myself, I was trying to teach myself to play the didgeridoo to help me sleep better, which sounds odd, I know, but I was desperate. A didgeridoo is a large, primitive wind instrument invented by Australian Aborigines and it’s tricky to play. It sounds awful if you do it wrong and only a little less awful if you do it right.
One day, I dropped it on a table and broke the glass which led me to think about it as a possible dangerous weapon. The story came to me over time and, luckily, I didn’t have to master the didgeridoo to write it!

How is writing in the mystery genre different from other genres?
“Death by Didgeridoo” is my first mystery, but not my first work of fiction. Writing a mystery is like figuring out a puzzle while watching characters performing in a play--in your head! I started writing this book with one character in mind as the killer. To my surprise, the story changed direction as I got to know my characters and it turned out to be someone else.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write every day for a set amount of time. Don’t let your self-doubt overwhelm you.
Don’t judge what you write, just keep going.
Write because you love to write. If you get stuck, start asking questions about your story that still need to be answered. As you ask them, you will start to think of the answers. Another trick when you get stuck is to write down all the possible ways your story could go and follow each one to its conclusion in a sentence or two.
Take your favorite books by your favorite authors and try to imitate their styles for practice. That way, you can analyze how they do what they do. Also, read some terrible books and analyze what went wrong.

What inspired you to write “A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities”?
I wanted to make people smile and even-dare I hope?–laugh, as they read my book. We are all so busy with our lives and our laundry and our to-do lists that we forget to have fun. If you watch kids playing, they laugh and smile non-stop, but us, not so much.
So, either sign up for laugh yoga or read my books, people. Or be grouchy, it’s your choice…
How is writing in the humor genre different from other genres?
I try to keep my writing light and full of surprises, even for myself. If I’m not surprised and delighted as I write, you won’t be either, is my thinking. I try to write about topics that everyone can relate to, including funny issues that come up with family, friendships, and marriage. One of my essays deals with planning a dinner party for a group of friends and trying to please everyone, with disastrous results! It was an imaginary dinner party with my very real friends and they all enjoyed being included, even though they didn’t actually get a meal out of it….

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