I use travel opportunities to find mystery stories. I listen and watch the people in whatever town I’m in looking for that person to be the centerpiece of my next story. Of course that means I looking for my next murder victim. Recently I had the privilege of traveling to Australia and New Zealand. People, as part of our social discourse typically ask what I do for a living. When I reveal I’m mystery writer, the most common question I get is, have I been a writer my entire life? Actually, I can’t remember a single creative writing exercise in high school or college that I enjoyed or did well. I guess you have to come into writing when the time is right in your life.
I met a lot of international people on my side trips and people are the same everywhere asking those same work questions. However, Germans are known for their love of books. Their country is the largest consumer of books per person. So they typically ask a second question about writing. Where do your ideas come from?
I was hiking with this one couple from Belgium and we had taken a lunch break and were discussing mysteries and they asked me that question. So I told them that I look for some behavior that inspires me to create a murder mystery around the person. They nodded, but still looked concerned. So I followed that up with , ‘don’t worry I won’t pick you folks. What I didn’t tell them was there was a couple from Germany on our bus that I had decided was my target for a mystery set in Australia.
Later, I was on a different tour in New Zealand and the exact same questions came up. This time they were asked by a German couple. So I explained my strategy and said without thinking that I’d found a German couple that would be murdered in Australia. After they looked alarmed, I assured them it was not them - I had met them in Australia, they were of a different age, and they were always late returning to the bus - a very un-German trait. The couple looked relieved with my explanation!
Currently I’m working on Sicilian Murder, set in Catania on the island of Sicily. I’m up to 10k words or about one-eighth of the way finished. I’m hoping for a February/March publication date. I learn something new with each book and with this book, it’s understanding law enforcement in Italy. First I had to figure out which of the 5 branches follows up on murders, then I had to understand their medical examiner process (it’s horrible). Every book is an adventure in writing and learning about some small piece of the world!
Peace of Earth!
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and may everyone have a happy and healthy 2019!