Saturday, October 23, 2010

True Crime

Hey all you crime writers out there!

Do you ever get inspired by real life?  Has a true crime story ever served as a background to one of your mysteries?  I ask this because of a recent story in the local press.  Canadian papers and news programs have had a lot of coverage lately of the Colonel Russell Williams story.  He has confessed to two murders, plus a number of other crimes, including several break-ins.

The story is tuly horrible and some of the newspaper articles this week made my stomach lurch.

I don't think I could ever make up something as vile as this case.  It would be disturbing to write about such heinous crimes.

On the other hand, I have read at least three mysteries in the last while that are clearly based (however loosely) on real stories in the local news.  In one case, the story was great and felt original.  The connection to the real story was loose, and overall it worked. 

In another case, though, the real story was horrible, and was so thinly disguised in this novel, that I had a hard time finishing the book.

What about you?  How do you feel when art imitates life?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wondering about Weapons

When it comes to writing mysteries, do you have a preferred murder weapon?  Do you think readers are turned off by some weapons?  Certainly, some weapons require more research (guns & ballistics for instance), might this dissuade you or will you roll up your sleeves and start researching how to use this weapon convincingly in your book.  Certain weapons yield a bloodier or more gory scene of the crime, such as a stabbing  - would that make the writing more difficult to you?  Do you think some methods are more "female" than "male"? 

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I'd love to hear from people who attended Bouchercon 2010.  I've never been, but hope to go next year (or the year after or ...)

I don't have much experience with Mystery Conventions, but from what I hear, Bouchercon is the best of the best. 

If you've been as either an author or a fan, tell me what it was like, what you learned, who you met and what you enjoyed.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Here's another hypothetical question for writers:  How much leeway does your editor have with your book?  Does s/he discuss all changes with you?  Do you give your editor carte blanche?  I assume the process can be slightly different from one publishing house to another, but there are also norms and standards within the industry. 

I know that proofreading is a separate thing - catching typos and inserting missing punctuation is a separate thing, a separate skill set, so I'm not wondering about that side of things.

But when it comes to character development, setting, dialogue and so forth, what sorts of changes would you want to have a say in, versus what sorts of changes would you let slide?  Or, would you just let them do what they want and assume that "Father knows best"? 

Finally, how would you feel if - suppose - the editor made changes but didn't tell you or show you what they were (for example, you did not get a blacklined version or a "tracked changes" version)?  Imagine getting the manuscript back and finding out the word count was significantly different but you didn't know what those added or deleted words were.

In your experiences, what is usual and what is unusual? 

I'd love to learn what your experiences have been like.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Misleading Book Covers

Here's another hypothetical topic for discussion:

Suppose your publisher chose a book cover that was incorrect or didn't match the contents of the book.  Let's say, for example, the cover of a mystery novels depicts a bottle of poison (you know, with the skull and crossbones on the label), but the story does not include the use of poison, nor does it hint at poison, nor is poison included in the plot as a "red herring". 

As factually unsuitable as this hypothetical cover may be, the publisher wants to use it (maybe the marketing department said it was a good choice...?).

Should the author be allowed to veto the choice of the book cover or not?

Looking forward to your replies... Jill

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Question for (aspiring) authors

What would you do or what would you think if your publisher consistently spelled your name incorrectly?  Let's assume it is spelled correctly on the book cover, but it is wrong in other places, for example on publicity materials. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this...

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Hey Folks,

I've been away from the blogosphere for a while now.  Self-imposed exile :-)
I will soon get back to posting on a regular basis.

Cheers, Jill