Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why I write mysteries

I have written, or started writing, many different pieces of work over the years - novels, screenplays, stage plays and short stories. More often than not, I abandoned the pieces and started working on something else. The few pieces I did manage to finish and even got to a polished state were always mystery stories.  The first story I finished, at around age 12, was called The Man with Two Faces. I do not actually remember much about the plot of this story, but remember quite vividly that I typed it on a massive electric typewriter that was a casualty of my Mother’s office PC conversion and that I scrambled to finish it while my sister was having a party in our basement. Her friends were four years older than I was and all seemed to take a keen interest in the kid in the basement typing a mystery story. They sat and waited for me to finish a page so I could pass it to them to continue the story until I finished it later that night. Perhaps because of the early validation in this genre, I have stuck with it and found I am most comfortable writing in this space. Not that I don’t intend to write other things for other audiences, but I naturally seem to gravitate to this category, and feel quite comfortable hanging out there. There is something about the mechanics of a mystery that interests me, the possibility of the reader figuring it out, even though you have withheld key information that only your protagonist knows.  In life, I am a creature of habit, and fairly well structured in my everyday life and I think this also explains why I like mysteries. Structure is a key component to a good mystery story and I find comfort in lining everything up “just-so”. As I continue writing my Cora series, I hope to find stories and plot elements that stump readers just enough without frustrating them, while at the same time satisfying my desire to tie things up with a nice big bow.

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