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…)
Whenever people ask what I do, I like to look straight at them, smile, and reply “I murder people.” I usually give them a moment to squirm before I add, “Fictionally. I write mysteries.”
I did the same kind of thing in high school. See, I went to a classical school. It was technically public, but specialized—no athletics, an emphasis on academics, cultural arts, and foreign languages. But before the school was transformed into a classical school, it was an alternative school. So whenever people asked what school I went to, I’d just offer the first part of the name and leave off the label “classical.” I could see the struggle on their faces as they attempted to reconcile the image of me with the concept of a delinquent. (more…)