I was about eight when I encountered my first corpse.
It was at the funeral of a woman my grandmother knew, the woman from whom we’d bought our piano. Which apparently meant we owed her the courtesy of attending her funeral. My brother was the one who’d been playing piano since he was about five, and as luck would have it, he had a piano lesson. Convenient excuse. So I got to represent the family by attending the funeral with my grandmother.
Attending my first funeral would have been disturbing enough. But this one had a viewing. That’s right, everyone filed up to stare at a corpse. Because that’s not weird at all. (more…)
In some of the best books, the setting or environment can transform into a secondary character, revealing moods, suggesting secrets. And it’s especially important in mysteries. I’ve talked about the Find before, that moment where a character stumbles upon the murdered victim. The specifics of the body’s location can say so much.
But equally important is the larger atmosphere. Big city? Small town? Michigan in the dead of winter? Florida in the heat of summer with alligators roaming around the swamps ready to chomp those big teeth into their next victim? (Ahem. Okay, so I have a thing about alligators. Moving right along…) (more…)