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July 03, 2011


Amber Green

I remember realizing a long time ago I could sink into someone else's world, be that person. I wrote fantasies and historicals then. What changed my writing was realizing the person couldn't be me. Nor even much like me. It's not that I *could* sink into that person's world and be that person. It's that I *had* to.

Elaine Viets

I've been re-reading Agatha Christie and learning from the Queen of Crime. Her observations on society and romantic relations, her humor (she really is slyly funny) and how she builds suspense in situations that would be dull for a lesser writer are lessons I hope I can incorporate.

Sheila Connolly

Sookie seems to face dire threats every other chapter, but she hangs on to her moral compass even while admitting she's made some bad choices. You've ramped the tension up by periodically inserting new creatures who initially are complete unknown quantities--that's certainly one way of keeping things fresh! (Okay, I'll stop gushing now.)

My agent says I write "serious cozies"--bad things happen in them. I've never understood how a cozy writer can treat death as trivial, nothing more than the catalyst for a story.

In my Museum Mystery that comes out next spring, my protagonist kills the villain. She didn't intend to, but she's devastated--and I thing rightly so. She can't just brush it off and move on. I'll be interested to see how readers respond to that.

Charlaine Harris

Sheila, they used to call my mysteries "cozies with teeth." It seems to me that in many "golden age" mysteries, the plot was king and the characters were secondary. So the dead person was more or less disposable. And I was okay with that, because obviously these books were for entertainment, not moral instruction. But in the past few years I've liked my reading to have a little more moral meat on its bones.

Sarah Cullen

My biggest revelation happened recently when I was trying to figure out the next "big bad" in my world (Paranormal Romance). I was trying very hard to keep within boundaries while I was writing, when the thought came to me - this is MY world! I'm allowed to make up my OWN rules! I'd already gone out of my way to try to set new rules for well-known supernaturals like Vampires and Werewolves, but, because it's MINE, I was allowed to continue with being different and making things up for everything! As long as it made sense to me (and I'm very scientific minded) then it should make sense to the reader.

I know what you mean about seeing the main character change or be faced with something he or she can't take back later. I dump a LOT on my heroines (and heroes), but it makes more sense to me because I don't think anyone out there has lived a pain, hurt or guilt-free life. To me, seeing someone go through hard times (be it a skinned knee to a lost limb, the death of a pet goldfish to the death of a family member) makes them more real. And, in real life, there are no "Happily Ever Afters", as much as we'd all love to believe in them.


I think you make a good point, Charlaine, about changing worlds to explore different varieties of evil and morality. I think Emma Fielding addressed big issues of morality, but while she made hard decisions and changed as a character, her world (and how I chose to depict it) put constraints on me as a writer. Fair enough--style and structure informs prose as much as poetry. Anna Hoyt is faced with the same kinds of questions, but because of her place in the world (often on the wrong side of the law), I can get away with much more drastic choices and consequences.

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