Someone recently asked me why I chose to write in the mystery genre, and the answer is simple: Because I love to read them. I love to try to figure out who wears the white hats and who wears the black. And my favorite mysteries are manned by characters who are flawed and irreverent and strong and aware of their weaknesses all at the same time.
I look for characters with depth. People who try to solve other folks’ problems and blunders while grappling with their own. And I want characters who fall down and cry – or refuse to shed a tear – but who get up again and do their best to learn and grow and climb one hurdle, then dust themselves off and move on to tackle the next. In my favorite books, it’s not just the perp who gets revealed.
In truth – in my opinion – every book is a mystery, because when we read the opening paragraph we have no idea where the story will take us, what we’ll learn from it, or what’s at stake for the characters who populate the pages. And the authors who create the most alive characters are the authors whose books we return to again and again.
You can’t hold back the bad things that happen in the world, not in real life. You can’t pre-determine positive outcomes, you can’t program a happy ending. We all know that. But when you read, you can wrap yourself up in stories of imperfect people who come out okay. And you come out thinking you’ll be okay, too, and that things can turn out great if you work really hard, if you believe in yourself, if you trust the universe.
That’s the kind of story I want to write. That’s what I’m working towards. I want to be one of those authors whose characters resonate with readers, and when they read the last page of one of my books, they know they can have that kind of awakening, or that kind of man or woman beside them.
I recently joined KDP Select for the first time ever. Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited program convinced me. It’s great for avid readers, and it’s free to sign up for the first month, so I just couldn’t say no. So I’ve left Mark of the Loon, the first book in my series, on other platforms and on Amazon for 99 cents, and added the second two to KDPS. You can hop over to Amazon and borrow The Last Fairytale and Paint Me Gone for free.
I’ve written about my absolute adoration of Kearsley’s book The Winter Sea, which remains my favorite book ever and my fave of all her titles. But everything she writes is wonderful and I recommend all her work. Kearsley does not pen straight-arrow mysteries, preferring to bend genres – which I love and envy – by combining mystery with romance and historical fiction plus a bit of the paranormal. Delicious.
Most of you probably know Crais’s Elvis Cole character, he’s an icon. Personally, I’m in love with Elvis big-time and I’ve read every single book that Crais has written about him. I love that Cole is funny, quirky, loves his friend Joe Pike, and has flaws and feelings that transcend his chosen profession. There’s no graphic sex and not much gore in an Elvis Cole novel – Crais relies on old-fashioned great writing to keep the reader engaged, with just the right amount of description to bring characters, locations and scenes to life. This is my all-time favorite detective series. And check this out! Here’s a insider’s view of Crais’s office.
You can see by a skim of the reviews that French’s novel Faithful Place was not received consistently well across the board, but I thought it was brilliant. French seems to do something different with every book, and I’ve had trouble getting into other works of hers that I’ve picked up. But Faithful Place is a fabulous piece of writing, and I absolutely was riveted by this story. It’s about a Irish cop whose first love disappeared. He thought she ran off without him, and the rejection left him unable to really love again. Then, much later in his life, he finds out she was murdered. When he solves the crime, he’s freed on many levels. GRAND!
Readers, what about you? Who are your favorite authors and books? Please leave a comment and share!
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