Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Mind of a Mystery Writer

The question that I get asked the most often by readers is where I get so many weird ideas.  I think all of us who write murder mysteries get asked that a lot.   It's not so much that we have twisted minds.  Well, okay, we do.  It's more a matter of how we perceive the odd little things that happen in our daily lives.

Here's an example.

I have a chum named Red who I often walk on the beach with early on weekend mornings here in the historic Connecticut shoreline village of Old Lyme, which is the real-life setting for the fictional Dorset of my Mitch Berger-Desiree Mitry novels.  Red is a retired airline pilot in his early 70s.  An avid birder.  A fellow suffering N.Y. Met fan and ardent reader of crime fiction.  We always find plenty to talk about.  Anyway, during one of our recent Saturday morning walks Red informed me that he was enjoying a bumper crop of rose hips this season and wondered if Diana and I would be interested in a bag of them for making rose hip jelly.  When I got home I asked Diana if she knew how to make rose hip jelly and she confidently replied, "Sure.  Well, no." Not a problem, Red assured me on the phone.  He said he'd swing by later that morning with the rose hips, a sheet of simple instructions and a block of paraffin wax for sealing our jars after we were done.

Have you ever had rose hip jelly? It's amazingly easy to make, we discovered later that day.  Also amazingly delicious.  So amazingly delicious we quickly realized that the whole sealing the jars with melted paraffin thing just wasn't going to be an issue in our case.   Our rose hips yielded one good-sized jar that we were pretty sure would be entirely licked clean within 48 hours.

So when I picked up Red the following morning for our Sunday beach walk I brought the block of paraffin with me to return to him.  Red was running a bit late that morning and didn't want to keep me waiting there in his driveway so he came scuffing out to my car in his slippers, hiking shoes and socks in hand, and changed into his shoes as I drove down to the beach.  We had a really nice walk.  There was a nip of early fall in the air.  It was a lovely, lovely morning.

As I was driving us back toward the village on Route 156 Red said he was enjoying the crisp morning air so much -- in particular the prospect of bacon, eggs and toast with his own batch of rose hip jelly -- that I needn't bother to take him all of the way home.  He told me to just drop him at the corner of Ferry Road, which is where I'd turn right to go to my house.  He'd just cross over Route 156 and walk the quarter-mile to his own place on Sandpiper.  I said no problem and let him out there, reminding him to be careful crossing Route 156 because drivers really fly around the bend on that road.  We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways and that was that.

Except here's where the mind of a mystery writer takes over.  I'm pretty sure that as Red was crossing that road he was still thinking about the breakfast he was going to make when he got home.  What was I thinking? You really want to know?  Okay, here goes: I was thinking that if, God forbid, Red got run over by some semi-awake speeder that the first responder to the scene would be wondering what in the hell a retired airline pilot was doing in the middle of Route 156 at 7:45 on a Sunday morning carrying only his bedroom slippers and a block of paraffin wax.

And that, my friends, is how mystery plots are hatched.  


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blog posts coming soon!

David will write a blog post as soon as he's off deadline!

maddee the webmaven