Camille Minichino asked me to take part in a blog hop where writers discuss their writing process. And those who know Camille know she’s not someone to turn down lightly. She has minions! Seriously, I do appreciate the opportunity. Forthwith are my answers.
What am I working on / writing?
A mystery novel set in 1948. This allows me to spend all kinds of time on research. I get to visit out of the way places, spend hours reading old newspapers on microfilm, and acquire too many books. A retired dip (as a professional pickpocket is called) read my novels and complimented me on my depth and breadth of pickpocket lore.
I’ve heard others complain about doing research. To me, it is sugar on grapefruit.
This month also saw the release of my second novel, “Murder Miscalculated” from Mainly Murder Press. More on that later.
I am also compiling “The Anthology of Cozy-Noir” for release later this year. Putting it together is a blast!
How does my writing / work differ from others in its genre?
I write in a mash-up style I call Cozy-Noir. Most of my stories have a veneer of noir, with rain-slick streets and dangerous doings, but underneath, they are cozies, with interesting settings, a community of captivating characters, and little on-page sex or violence. An exception to this is my collection, “The Case of the Murderous Mermaid and Other Stories”, from Untreed Reads, as the stories it contains are as cozy as cozy can get.
Why do I write what I do?
It’s simple. I write the kind of books I like to read. My first two novels, “Murder Misdirected”, and its just-released sequel, “Murder Miscalculated”, feature a nice-guy pickpocket with a knack for getting into trouble. I enjoy creating the setting and casting the characters, as much as putting together the puzzles that shape the plots.
How does my writing process work?
I dwell on the setting for ages before I begin writing. I learn all I can of the history and the people. I read the newspapers of the day, and if close enough, visit in person, to walk the streets firsthand. I listen to music of the era and watch the movies my characters would have watched.
Within that setting I audition characters, adding, removing and changing them until I have a cast with whom I can begin.
Only after all of that do I begin writing the first draft. I begin with no notion where the story might go, but a sense of gestalt for the time, the place, and the characters.
Opportunities for conflict arise as the characters and settings are introduced and the basis of a plot takes shadowy shape. Notes are made in the text when something like the color of a character’s hair, or their sex, changes.
The plot crystallizes around the two-thirds mark in the scruffy first draft, and I go back and update the earlier text, planting clues, stocking red herrings, and fashioning foreshadowing.
I write the last third at a scary speed, averaging five thousand words a day.
After that, it’s the dreaded draft two, the hopeful third draft, and finally, the finished novel.
If only it was as simple to do as to tell!