This is one of the Mystery Author Interviews I've been adding to my YouTube Channel.
Kate White is the New York Times bestselling author of ten works of fiction—six Bailey Weggins mysteries and four suspense novels. For fourteen years she was the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, and though she loved the job (and the Cosmo beauty closet!), she decided to leave in late 2013 to concentrate full time on being an author.
Her books have received starred reviews from a variety of publications and she has been covered everyplace from The Today Show to The New York Times. Her first Bailey Weggins mystery, If Looks Could Kill, was named as the premier Reading with Rippa selection. Kate is also the editor of the recently-released Mystery Writers of America cookbook.
Her new novel The Wrong Man follows the mild-mannered owner of a Manhattan boutique interior design, Kit Finn. While on vacation in the Florida Keys, Kit resolves to do something risky for once, and when she literally bumps into a charming stranger at her hotel, makes good on her promise and acts on her attraction. But back in New York, when Kit arrives at his luxury apartment ready to pick up where they left off in the Keys, she doesn’t recognize the man standing on the other side of the door. She soon realizes she’s been thrown into a treacherous plot, deeper and deadlier than she could have ever imagined.
Kate stops by In Reference to Murder today to talk about writing her new book:
What I Learned at the Morgue One Morning
There are probably very few people who have sat in the viewing room of a morgue and realized that it was the perfect place for them to be at the moment, but I guess I’m one of them. It happened last October when I was doing research for my new book, The Wrong Man. I’d arranged to stop by the Miami morgue and not only check out the viewing room but also interview a couple of people who worked there, who, by the way, turned out to be incredibly helpful. The end result: I was able to write a scene for my book far more accurately than I would have otherwise.
I know there are some mystery and suspense writers who don’t believe in doing a lot of research and I can understand that. There’s a certain purity (and fun) to letting your imagination run wild and just making it up--based, of course, on a certain amount of knowledge from years spent living on the planet. Plus, writers are aware that readers generally (and generously) allow them some poetic license. When I interviewed Lee Child recently at the 92nd Y in New York City, he said that he doesn’t research but relies on all the data he’s collected in his brain over the years. And what a brain that is!
And of course research can sometimes get in your way. While talking to Harlan Coben for same series, he pointed out that research is often an excuse for not plopping your butt in the desk chair and just writing. So true.
But I have a confession: I absolutely love researching. There’s something about the process that I find both fascinating and also relaxing. Maybe because it’s methodical, and there never seems to be a lot of pressure when I’m doing it. My pulse rate goes down when I research and I find myself in almost a Zen state. Plus, on more than a few occasions, it’s spared me from making a big mistake in my writing.
Take the morgue visit. When you view a body in some cities (like New York), you stand on the other side of a window. (You’ve probably seen that on old Law and Order episodes.) That’s how I originally planned to set the scene in The Wrong Man. But I wanted to be on the safe side so I scheduled a trip south and that’s where I learned that in Miami, family members of the deceased are shown photos instead. I was so glad I discovered that piece of info.
But to me what’s most exhilarating about research is that it sometimes provides details that can turn into fabulous plot points, stuff you might not have discovered if you hadn’t set off exploring. Lately I did some research on twins for a future book, and four or five Google pages down I discovered the most intriguing piece of information, something I’d never heard of. It has the potential to be an incredible plot twist.
Oh, I’d tell you what it is but then I’d have to shoot you—because I intend to use it in one of my next books!
To learn more about Kate White and her latest novel, visit her website where you'll also find purchase links and her tour schedule.
Blogger Patricia "Patti" Abbott is the creator and host of the regular Friday's Forgotten Books feature, but she's also a prolific author of crime short stories (with over 100 published!) and received a 2008 Derringer Award for her story “My Hero.” Her debut novel Concrete Angel from Polis Books has been a long time coming, but it's worth the wait for both Patti and crime fiction fans.
For the book, Patti drew upon her experiences of growing up in Philadelphia and was inspired by a news report of a mother and daughter charged with credit-card theft, where the daughter told the court her mother made her do it. Concrete Angel takes that concept and runs with it, delving into a family torn apart by a murderous mother straight out of "Mommy Dearest" and her children, especially her daughter Christine, who are victims until they learn that fighting back is the only way to survive.
Patti is currently on a blog tour and stops by In Reference to Murder to take some Author R&R and discuss researching and writing the book:
CONCRETE ANGEL takes place in Philadelphia and its suburbs in the sixties and seventies. I grew up in Philadelphia, a decade after the mother in the book, Eve Moran, and a decade and a half before her daughter, Christine. Not coinciding exactly in age with either character allowed me to take a step back from recreating myself too much. I wanted their reactions to come from my imagination rather than my experiences.
Getting Philadelphia and Bucks Country right was very important to me although I mostly used my memories of the city in that era to do that. Downtown Philly features prominently in several sections so I spent a lot of time reviewing maps of the downtown in that era. Online research is a god send. Of course, the town of Shelterville only exists in my mind as do various schools I mentioned. Very real though was the four department stores of my youth: John Wanamakers, Gimbels, Strawbridge and Clothier, and Lit Brothers. It is hard to get across how much those stores defined Philadelphia in the fifties and sixties. So too the extravagantly gorgeous movie theaters and restaurants.
Mental illness plays a large part in this story. I relied on two books for help with the treatment of mental illness at the time. WOMAN AND MADNESS by Phyllis Chesler was the first to ask questions about women and mental health. It combined patient interviews with a history of women's roles in history, society, and myth. Chesler writes that there is a terrible double standard when it comes to women's psychology. Some of the treatment women received at the hands of their therapists was abusive if not felonious. The second book I read was MADWOMAN IN THE ATTIC. Now this book looks at the treatment of women in 19th Century literature and was not relevant to this era, but it helped me to form the character if not her treatment.
Although I read a news story about a mother and daughter arrested for various crimes they committed together, I deviated from their tale pretty quickly. I didn't relate much to the crimes themselves but more to the personalities of the women who would commit them, and what kind of relationship would lend itself to such crimes. And it was then that I remembered a childhood friend and her mother. Their relationship had the twisty, complicated nature of Eve and Christine's. Here was a mother who exerted exactly this type of control over her daughter even if it didn't lead to crimes.
Finding the humanity in Eve was important to me. She is a villain but why. I tried inject enough sympathy into her portrait to make her feel human. Is someone suffering from a undiagnosed disorder responsible for their crimes? If the era couldn't define her issues or treat them, should we hate her? I'll leave it to you to judge.
Pick up a digital or paperback copy of Concrete Angel today via all major online and brick-and-mortar stores - just follow the "buy" links on the Polis Books website.
Author Jean Heller takes some "Author R&R" today on In Reference to Murder. Heller's career has included serving as an investigative and projects reporter and editor for The Associated Press, The Cox Newspapers, Newsday, and the St. Petersburg Times. Heller has won multiple awards, including the Worth Bingham Prize, the Polk Award, and is an eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.
Heller's new thriller is The Someday File, which asks the question, "What happens when the profession you’ve known all your adult life threatens to kill you—yet suffocating guilt and insatiable curiosity won’t let you walk away?" That's what happens to Deuce Mora, a columnist for the Chicago Journal, whose encounter with an aging, low-level Chicago mobster throws her into a world of political and criminal intrigue and confronts her with a horrific crime more than 50 years old that she will either solve or die in the trying.
Heller offered up her take on "Author R&R" (Reference and Research) from her journalist's perspective:
Someone Will Notice
A good friend of mine, a mystery writer of some renown, once spent nearly two weeks researching what type, appellation, and vintage of red wine would have been served with a cassoulet at a fine Parisian restaurant in the 1920s.
When I asked him why he had spent that much time on such a small thing from so long ago, he replied, “Because if I get it wrong, someone will notice.”
Indeed, my friend was not being totally anal. When you write fiction, you are asking readers to suspend disbelief and take a trip with you into their imaginations. But if you hit a pothole along the way, and write as fact something the reader clearly recognizes as an error, the suspension of disbelief bubble bursts, and the trip comes to a crashing end.
So it was for me when a famous writer wrote about a character field-stripping a weapon and got it all wrong.
As a former newspaper reporter, research and adherence to fact are ingrained in me. Like my friend, I don’t want to break the axle of a good story by hitting a pothole.
I believe in the old saw that writers should write what they know, but we can’t know everything about everything. I am a licensed pilot, but not an airline pilot. For MAXIMUM IMPACT, I had a steep learning curve. I have worked in skyscrapers, but when I wrote HANDYMAN I didn’t know enough about the “dirty places” in the buildings, the offices and closets and alcoves that make the building work.
Some of the research I had to do for my current book, THE SOMEDAY FILE, was almost as obscure as identifying a red wine from the 1920s. I had to learn a lot of minutiae about Chicago’s criminal history, current laws, geography, neighborhoods, customs, and Chicagoans’ unique ways of speaking. Fortunately, I live in the city, so I didn’t have to travel terribly far to scout settings or to find experts who could answer my questions, including a professor of linguistics at the University of Chicago.
That’s my key to researching a book: I talk to people who know everything there is to know about what I don’t know.
For MAXIMUM IMPACT, I talked to several airline pilots and accepted United Airlines’ invitation to come fly their giant training simulators in Denver – the same mockups you saw on television when reporters were trying to explain the causes of several recent, tragic plane crashes.
For HANDYMAN, the manager of a new skyscraper in Tampa actually spent a day with me crawling around those areas of his building that most people never see.
On one occasion, I actually convinced the director of pharmacy at a large medical center to help me find a drug that would kill without leaving a trace and describe for me how such a drug could be stolen from his hospital.
These experts, even if uncertain initially about taking the time and making the effort to abet a work of fiction, all got into it as the exploration went along. They admitted when we finished that they’d had fun.
The perils of not doing this kind of research are evident:
I once read a novel in which there was a car chase through the streets of Lucerne, Switzerland. If the chase had occurred as the writer conceived it, it would have run along the bottom of Lake Lucerne.
In another novel, the writer blew up a tank farm in Iceland, apparently believing the tanks, in real life, hold petroleum. They don’t. The tanks sit over a lava basin and hold the hot water supply for the city of Reykjavik.
The moral of the story is, if you don’t know, do the research.
Because for every minor detail you get wrong, someone will notice.
It's time once again for some Author R&R (Reference and Research), today featuring Peter Swanson. Plus at the bottom of this post, look for details on how to win a free book!
Peter Swanson is the author of two novels, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, and his latest, The Kind Worth Killing. Swanson's poems, stories and reviews have appeared in such journals as The Atlantic, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Epoch, Measure, Notre Dame Review, Soundings East, and The Vocabula Review. He has won awards in poetry from The Lyric and Yankee Magazine and is currently completing a sonnet sequence on all 53 of Alfred Hitchcock’s films.
I enjoy hearing how different authors approach researching their novels, be it through job shadowing, being buried in library stacks, going online, interviews, news reports, or whatever techniques and methods they use in getting the details just right. Or whether they feel too much research and over-planning can be deadly to a manuscript. Swanson probably falls into the latter category, as you will see from his unique take on research:
Truth is, I do very little research. And it’s not because I don’t have to, it’s because I don’t really want to—it’s because I’m lazy. There’s nothing worse, for me, than being in the middle of writing a scene in which a search warrant is presented, and then I suddenly realize that I have no idea what a search warrant would even look like.
But here’s the good news. I can just go ahead and Google it, which is pretty much what I do these days. Voila. An image of a search warrant on the web that I can describe in my book. Here’s the rub, though. That image is probably attached to some interesting story, and suddenly I’m reading the story instead of working on my book. It’s a double-edge sword, the internet—great for research, and equally great for time wasting.
I did do one solid research trip for my last book, The Kind Worth Killing. There’s a crucial scene set in an old cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. I could picture the cemetery, perched on a steep hill that overlooks the town center. I live very close to Concord so I went on a quick research trip one cold and blustery weekday, and spent the afternoon alone in The Old Hill Burying Ground, taking some pictures, but mostly just reading gravestones, and soaking up some atmosphere.
Afterwards, I went to the lovely old tavern in the Colonial Inn and had a drink. Both the graveyard and the tavern wound up in my book. I might not have described them perfectly, but it helped that I was there. I think this is the best kind of research. Just going somewhere and walking around. Getting away from your computer for a little bit. So much more rewarding than looking up what a search warrant looks like.
The Kind Worth Killing was called "Chilling and hypnotically suspenseful … could be an instant classic," by Lee Child (of the Jack Reacher novels). Entertainment Weekly added, "Is The Kind Worth Killing the next Gone Girl? This homage to Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train shares a lot of Gone Girl’s hallmarks but cranks up the volume on each. There aren’t just two unreliable narrators, there are four. There isn’t just one enormous, game-changing twist. Try three, including one at the end that will take your breath away. You’ll also lose count of all the sociopaths. Or are they psychopaths? It doesn’t matter—just know that they’re each deranged but oh-so-compelling."
For your chance to win a copy of Swanson's novel The Kind Worth Killing, just send along an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with Contest Entry in the subject line, and you'll be entered into the random drawing. And if you want to be added to my newsletter list for occasional news updates, you can mention that in your e-mail (you won't be added without your consent and can unsubscribe at any time). Good luck!
Margaret Morgan grew up in a rural area in Shropshire, England and turned her hand to teaching, both in the UK and overseas. But after a tragic medical diagnosis led to early retirement, Margaret’s husband suggested she write to avoid dwelling on missing her colleagues. Instead of starting slowly and perhaps gaining experience with short stories, Margaret leapt straight into researching a period of history she knew little about, but wanted to know more.
The result was Mrs. McKeiver’s Secrets, the first book in a planned trilogy set in a fictional area of limestone hills and a microcosm of England in the late 18th century. The themes involve all the problems facing rural villages—such as the horror of landlessness, the price of food and the threat of starvation as a once settled rural community is rocked to its core by the effects of the Hills' Enclosure Act 1795—all seen through the eyes of the midwife, Mrs. McKeiver.
Morgan stops by In Reference to Murder to take some "Author R&R" and talk about how her family history inspired the novel as well as her research into the real-life events that are at the heart of the book:
I was born in 1950, which I feel now was another age.
Our farm was two and a half miles from the village of Leintwardine, where I went to primary school. My elder sister, Kate, two years older than me was already there. Our younger sister Liz wasn’t born until 1957.
The farm was built in the 1750’s and had not changed since then, except for the addition of a black grate and oven in the kitchen. The bits to the spit remained, as obviously one would need it, which Mum did when feeding lots of shearers etc. Water came via a pump in the yard, or a well in the orchard; light from a candle; or a lamp, strictly after tea, of course.
The yard was a beautiful cobbled pattern, I remember, until my father concreted it during his ‘concrete period’ in 1957, as it was so slippery. Gone were the days of many cheap hands on farms, to do all the sweeping and upkeep needed.
We had electricity when I was about four and water when my father paid for it to be brought in 1962. The thrill of a bathroom I can still remember; as we’d had an Elsan in the attic, as well as a two seater ‘around the corner’ in the orchard, previously. I don’t expect many rural children in the Herefordshire area had much different in the 1950’s.
From primary school at eleven, I didn’t follow my sister to Ludlow High School, but went to a small prep school in Leominster. From there I went to a brand new secondary school in a nearby village, Wigmore. In 1966 I became Head Girl, which was a great step in the right direction for me. For A levels I attended Ludlow Grammar School, until 1968.
I decided to teach Physical Education, so trained at Weymouth College of Education, part of the University of Southampton. I taught PE in Bournemouth until 1978 and changed to EFL teaching to go overseas with my husband. We lived in various African countries and Malta. In 1985 we returned and lived in London for sixteen years, teaching in privateprep schools. By now I was teaching junior girls for the London Day Schools’ Entrance Examination at 10+. However, I was finding life increasingly difficult.
Looking back, it seems strange that no one put two and two together earlier than 1995. I had been attempting to find out what was wrong with me for nearly twenty years. Terrific head and lower back pain, projectile vomiting coupled with deteriorating ability to walk, meant nothing to a long list of doctors. Indeed, I was sneered at on my medical notes. ‘Very into alternative therapies ha ha’.
At last I saw a neurologist. 1995 meant Bart’s for three days, steroids and the immediate clearing of my head. I had Multiple Sclerosis diagnosed too. The lower back pain faded and my headache gradually diminished. I still have leg pain, with excruciating right big toe pain. It seems that I have spinal stenosis and MS.
I had to retire in 2002, as I did a graceful collapse outside my Doctor’s Surgery and had to call my husband to drive me less than half a mile home.
After bed rest, I could feel my feet again and began to take an interest in life. It took a time for everything to sink in and that left me very lost. I missed everyone at work terribly, so my husband suggested that I write, as I had started short stories for competitions. As a child my sister and I had written ‘newspapers’, which had a limited circulation: 2 parents. I had been teaching essay writing to junior girls, but I already knew it was the thing for me.
Instead of writing short stories, for experience, I leapt straight into researching a period of history I knew a little about, but wanted to know more. Herbal knowledge and midwifery in the eighteenth century seemed to naturally evolve out of my research. Mrs. McKeiver entered my head when I first thought of a character to hold everything together in the Hills; my fictional area.
I expect she is an amalgam of my mother and her two grandmothers. Coming from Yorkshire and Lincolnshire they were fearless, strong women. One was a land worker, living until her seventies; having a home and family. She was reputed to be able to make soup from ‘the dishcloth and an onion’. The other was perhaps better off, assisting the midwife at births in her rural area in Yorkshire. I know one of them would beat any official with her umbrella, if she thought someone was being harangued for being poor and needy. A great sin in pre war days.
What I did discover from my research, was the appalling effects of Land Enclosures on the rural poor. It equals mistreatment of a country’s own working people, anywhere in the World. They must have died in hundreds, as charity was very limited, even up to the early twentieth century. Punishments for poaching were increasingly horrific too; for taking an unwanted rabbit to feed hungry children.
At the moment I am editing and improving Book 3; thinking about Book 4 and writing Children’s books that are one page bedtime stories.I belong to a very small Writers’ Circle, sisters and sister in law, but we do an activity every fortnight and enter competitions. My sister in law has had many stories published in women’s magazines.In addition, Morton and Smith are publishing three of my teenage stories, in their termly School’s Catalogue.
In my children’s writing the main character usually has to cope with a parent’s illness, and/or death. I think that is so important, as in my experience many children today have to face someone in the family having treatment for cancer. The main character cannot cope at the beginning, but gradually realises others need support as much as them. They reach out and are rewarded.
The second Mrs. McKeiver book is Mrs. McKeiver’s Solutions, which is now published as an ebook by Troubador. Book three, Mrs. McKeiver’s Remedies, will see ‘chickens coming home to roost’. Just desserts come to the right people and the mystery baby is born.
Based in Vermont, author Tim Weed teaches at GrubStreet in Boston and in the MFA Creative & Professional Writing program at Western Connecticut State University. He is the winner of a Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Award and a Solas Best Travel Writing Award and also has published many short stories and essays. In addition to his writing work he has more than two decades’ experience developing and directing educational travel programs around the world and is currently a featured expert for National Geographic Expeditions on traveling programs to Cuba, Spain, and Patagonia/Tierra del Fuego.
Tim Weed’s first novel, Will Poole’s Island is set in New England, 1643. A meeting in the forest between a rebellious young Englishman and a visionary Wampanoag leads to a dangerous collision of societies, an epic sea journey, and the making of an unforgettable friendship. Will Poole's Island is a tale of adventure, wonder, and mystery in which a young man discovers that he is destined for more than his narrow upbringing led him to expect.
Tim Weed stops by In Reference to Murder today to talk about how his interest in family history led him to research that inspired the events of this novel:
Several years ago I got interested in family history. Tracing the Weeds back through the decades and the centuries, I found that the first Weed, Jonas, had come to America in 1630, on the ship Arbella, with Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Another ancestor was a young widower named Thomas Trowbridge, who crossed the Atlantic with three young sons and a household servant in 1637 to become one of the founders of New Haven, Connecticut. In 1645, Thomas Trowbridge sailed back to England to help Oliver Cromwell fight against king Charles in the English Civil War. He was killed in battle, leaving the three young Trowbridge orphans in the trust of their father’s servant, Henry Gibbons. Gibbons turned out to be corrupt, and basically swindled the boys out of their fortune.
Left on their own to survive in the wilds of America, the boys became merchant sea captains. One, William Trowbridge, was captured by the French and later became the subject of a sermon by the famous Puritan cleric Cotton Mather. Anyway, all of this was fascinating to me, and those who have read the book may recognize echoes of these ancestral histories in the story of my protagonist, Will Poole, his brother Zeke, and their legal guardian, the servant James Overlock.
I also have Native American ancestors – my great grandmother was half Cherokee – and I was fascinated by that heritage. So I wanted to find out more about the New England Indians too. I started reading a lot of primary resources, mostly accounts written by early English travelers and colonists. These books were very interesting, but they were of course written purely from the English perspective. Most of the observations of Indians by these early English described them as tall, handsome, healthy, with exceptionally good teeth. And then there was the fact that English captives, especially young ones, were often reluctant to return to the settlements after they’d been ransomed or rescued – because the freedom and ease they found in Indian society compared favorably to the strictness and repression of Puritan society. I found this most provocative, and it gave me an important insight into the character of my protagonist, Will Poole.
In 1614, six years before Plymouth Rock, an English sea captain named Thomas Hunt kidnapped twenty-seven Algonkian-speaking Indians from different spots along the New England coast and sold them as slaves to the Spanish. Among this group was a Patuxet Wampanoag who called himself Tisquantum, a name that was later shortened to “Squanto.” Tisquantum managed to escape slavery in Spain and made his way to England, where he was taken up by a group of investors interested in colonizing the New World. Tisquantum spent five years in England and found his way home in 1619, only to discover that his entire band had perished in a devastating plague. There is a character in my book, Squamiset, who has a very similar story.
Anyway, in the course of all this research I was beginning to develop a mental picture of New England in the 17th century. The thing was, the picture wasn’t complete. It wasn’t vivid or alive in my mind. And so in a sense the novel came to me because I passionately wanted to know more about the time and place, and I was only getting a dry and limited vision from my research.
And when it came time to transition from the research phase to the novel-writing phase, I began to get a feeling of accumulating energy, as if the story were telling itself. It was as if my early American characters had an important message they wanted to communicate - a new way of thinking, perhaps, or a reminder of a very old way of thinking. Novels are obviously limited in what they can achieve, of course, and in the end this is just a story. It’s a story about the friendship between a young man and an old man, their adventures and struggles and the landscapes they travel through, and the people and beings they interact with. I hope you enjoy it!
Today's guest post is from British author JM Shorney, author of Progeny of a Killer.
Undercover agent and assassin, Aidan McRaney, is sent to infiltrate the lair of fellow Irishman, Daniel Corrigan, by his boss, wheelchair-bound Sir George Treveleyan. Only Corrigan and Treveleyan know of McRaney’s secret past. Aidan has no idea of his mother’s affair with wanted I.R.A man, Connor McMartland, who was also Corrigan’s father. This shocking news triggers a chain of unprecedented events that sends Aidan into the world of white slave trafficking and puts Aidan's own son in harm's way.
Shorney stops by In Reference to Murder today to share her inspiration for her books and some insights into her research:
As three of my novels Stalking Aidan, The Devil in Soho and Staying Out are related to gangsters, what better way of recounting my experiences in the area of research, than to actually revisit the early years when I once dated a man actively involved in gangland. This was before marriage and children, but it was an experience I have drawn upon for my novels.
As I was about to become engaged to him, he had gone from being penniless and unemployed, to throwing his money around. It turned out that he, and other members of his hoodlum fraternity, had held up and robbed a post office in Chesterfield. It was this incident that perhaps led me to immerse myself in the gangster/crime genre. Watching countless movies and reading non-fiction crime books has also acquainted me with this twilight world of nightclubs, drugs and prostitution.
Of course, visiting the places has added more feeling and sensation to my writing. Nothing is more powerful and atmospheric than to visit the places you write about. I have to admit I've worn out much shoe leather walking the streets of London, particularly the East End and South London, where my stories are set.
For Progeny of a Killer I had researched Irish history extensively for many years, and gone through many Kleenex tissues due to being upset by this bloody history. I have been able to construct this story of revenge and desperate sorrow, experienced by one man, Danny Corrigan, for what he sees as acts of insurgency against the Irish nation.
In Dublin, prior to writing the novel, I visited Kilmainham gaol. I saw that small, lonely black cross over the mound of earth and knew I had to write about it. Particularly the death of James Connolly, the last of the rebel leaders of the1916 Easter Uprising. Connolly was propped up by a chair and shot, which is referred to by Danny Corrigan in Progeny. Corrigan's hatred of the British is such, that he has a plan is to bring them down, not with bombings or assassinations, but paedophilia and white slave trafficking. In the murder and torture of children lies the machinations of this man. Visiting Kilmainham and seeing the small barred cells, gave me the first hand experience no Wikipedia entry or Google search could ever offer.
To get to real grips with your story, write what you know, what you feel and what you see.
For more information about Storney and Progeny, check out her AuthorAmp website.
Hemmie Martin has spent most of her professional life as a nurse, including being a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities and a Forensic Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France, and currently lives in Essex in the U.K. She writes crime fiction with a dark edge, including a series with D.I Eva Wednesday novel, second of which, Rightful Owner, was published this week.
When a murder occurs in an exclusive swingers’ club, D.I. Wednesday and D.S. Lennox find themselves immersed in a murky world of sex and secrets. It doesn’t take long for the members to turn on one another, and for their clandestine affairs to come crashing into their everyday lives. As Wednesday experiences the pressures of work and caring for her mother’s mental illness, and Lennox’s ex-wife has him worrying about the sustainability of his role as a father, their case brings about questions of personal freedom and they begin to wonder if we are all, in fact, owned in one way or another.
Martin stops by In Reference to Murder today to talk about "Being Close to Crime":
I had always wanted to be a policewoman, but life took me down the nursing route, after a volunteering placement. Years down the line, I found myself working as a Forensic Nurse with young people between ten and eighteen, who had committed crimes. Their offences ranged from theft, drug or alcohol use, assault, to murder. I visited the young people in their homes, schools, hostels, or young offender institutes (prison). I was finally working alongside the police.
My experiences of visiting prisons, police cells and courts, add some (I hope) realism to my novels. I remember vividly the pressure of the job, the claustrophobic feeling of the cells, and the general malaise clinging to the atmosphere in the prisons. I was visiting an offender once, when the prison alarm rang. A fight had broken out, and lock-down was being enforced. Although I was completely safe, adrenaline riddled by body. I also remember taking a group of male adolescents to a male adult prison, with the idea of dissuading them from a life of crime. Walking within the grounds, men were hurling obscenities at myself and my female colleague, which was an uncomfortable experience.
I obviously do not use real people or their actual crimes in my novels, but I do liaise with a Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police Force, who advises me on procedural issues, which is a great help. As he is the same rank as my female DI, he is able to see things as she would. However, I reserve the right to use artistic licence, as sometimes the police procedure is quite a drawn-out process, which could be quite boring to read. I want an element of realism in my work, but not an out-and-out- procedural novel. I like to study the human aspects of crime, and the people behind the Detective Inspector and Detective Sergeant badges.
I am due to attend jury service in a week, which I hope will add another dimension to my writing. I’m used to being in Court with an offender, but never on the side of a jury, so I’m excited to see what that is like.
I have a plethora of books on policing, forensics, poisoning, true crime, and criminal psychology, to name but a few. I read a variety of male and female authors of crime fiction, such as Ian Rankin and P.D. James, but nothing beats human intervention, in my opinion.
When I write, I have the idea of the crime in mind, but sometimes the perpetrator changes from who I originally intended it to be, as once I start, things I could not see before writing suddenly develop. It is then I see who else would be better suited as the perpetrator, which often affords me the twist in the denouement, which hopefully thrills the reader.
This has taught me that over-planning a novel could stifle such hidden gems. I will write a mind-map as I move through the story, to check where people were when the crime took place, but I only use this overview as a guide, not a testament to follow religiously, as things always have a potential to change. But that makes a story interesting for me to write, and for a reader to devour.
Chris Parker is a Nottingham-based specialist in Communication and Influence. His fascination with the power of words and how they can be used to create intrapersonal and interpersonal change began in 1976. It became a lifelong study that has underpinned almost four decades of work in a variety of professional roles and contexts. A Licensed Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Chris is a highly experienced management trainer, business consultant, lecturer and writer.
His new thriller, titled Influence, centers on internationally-renowned consultant, Marcus Kline, who shares his expertise with world leaders, corporate giants and global media stars. Arrrogant, self-assured and controlling, Marcus revels in his unparalleled skill. Yet when a series of murder victims bear the horrific hallmarks of an intelligent and remorseless serial killer, Detective Inspector Peter Jones turns to Marcus for help – and everything changes. As the killer sets a deadly pace, the invisible, irresistible and terrifying power of influence threatens friendships, reputations, and lives. When events appear to implicate the great Marcus Kline himself, everyone learns that the worst pain isn’t physical.
Parker stops by In Reference to Murder today to discuss the power of influence:
by Chris Parker, author of Influence
We are all subject to influence. That’s what the research tells us. People, places, memories, expectations and a whole host of other stimuli influence us. In the main they influence us subconsciously. In other words they get into our heads and into our psyche, they affect the ways we feel, the things we say and the decisions we make without us even realising it.
This isn’t a one-way street, though. We influence others, too. Whether we mean to or not. Sometimes we create influence – either positive or negative - and we are oblivious to the fact. Sometimes we set out to create a specific type of influence and we achieve the exact opposite. Just because we influence inevitably doesn’t mean that are particularly good at it. Just because we are influenced inevitably doesn’t mean that we recognise and/or manage those influences well.
I decided to write my crime thriller series based on a Master of Influence. His name is Marcus Kline. I don’t know why that is his name. It just is. I do know why I chose to create him. It’s because I have been studying communication and influence since the mid 1970s. When I returned to writing fiction I took the easy and obvious option. I based it on what I know. I teach people in all walks of life how to use language to influence deliberately and positively. So when I began the process of creating Marcus Kline and his world I was pretty sure that there was only one thing I didn’t know. That was just who precisely my killer was and what precisely his motive was.
I figured – guessed, hoped – that it would all become clear as I developed Marcus’s world and immersed myself in it fully. Thankfully that is what happened. Eventually the killer just stepped out from the shadows and gave me a knowing look. I recognised precisely what that look meant because, well, because I have been studying and teaching this stuff for decades. The killer knew that I would read between the lines. The killer was right.
From that moment on I felt in complete control of my novel. The feeling lasted less than a week. Why? Because influence is inevitable. Because Marcus Kline had had enough life breathed into him to start making his own decisions. Now it was time for him to take the lead. All I could do was create the situations and let him work his way through them. He led. I followed. To be honest, I found it quite frightening at first. This wasn’t at all how I had planned to write the book. I adapted, though. After all, if you create a Master of Influence what do you expect them to do? I, of all people, should have worked that out. I cope with it by telling myself that we are a team.
So, right now, we are working together on the second book in the trilogy. I’m doing my best to recognise all the different ways Marcus Kline is influencing me. Part of me – the competitive part – feels tested by him. I’d like to show him that I know at least some things that he doesn’t. I suspect that I am doomed to failure. There is one thing, however, that I do know for sure.
He hasn’t finished with me yet.
Marcus Kline has his own website at http://marcuskline.co.uk
Head there if you dare!