A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Friday, June 30, 2017

Happy Birthday, Canada! And other lessons in objectivity!

I'm feeling a little sad. Today is my last official NYUS post (insert sad face) although I hope to get invited back occasionally ;). It's a little ironic because my Carina Press titles (SEA OF SUSPICION, STORM WARNING and EDGE OF SURVIVAL) are all getting makeovers soon, including new covers. I, for one, am very excited to see them. But I've decided it's time to move on (if anyone perfects cloning or time travel let me know and I might reconsider).

On a more important note, my beloved adoptive country of Canada is celebrating 150 years on July 1st. Happy Birthday! I love this country--snow and all! However, it's also important to remember that the land has been around a lot longer than 150 years and I appreciate the indigenous people of Canada might have a different view of the anniversary.

What does this have to do with writing? Good question. Let me expound (and give you a tip). Whatever you are writing about, always see if you can find an opposing POV somewhere in the news or literature. I guess it's like debate club--but I believe it gives stories more depth than if you simply view a subject from your own inherently limited perspective. (Try to avoid FAKE NEWS though! I'm not actually kidding.)

Another tip, and basically just going deeper into this practice, is to do solid research, especially if you're writing someone completely alien to the real you (hopefully murderers fall into this group). You can't just put yourself in a killer's shoes by picking up a fictional knife and start hacking away. It can't actually be YOU in the serial killer's shoes because you don't understand his mindset--even though you created him. In fact, YOU can't be in the scene at all. It has to be a fictional serial killer in a fictional serial killer's shoes. And the opposing POV would be either the victim/potential-victim trying to get away, or the law enforcement officer trying to bring a murderer to justice. Both sides believe in what they are doing.

Read biographies of and articles on people who live the same lives your POV characters live. Also, because you're thorough, read books by psychologists and cops who deal with these people (Robert Hare, Robert Ressler, John Douglas come to mind). You have to be able to know how they think, know how they justify their actions, how they lie--and not just the killers! You need to become that character on the page, during those scenes.

It's kind of a scary thing.  I scare myself some days.

If that's too much, then tell the story in a different way, but make sure you understand the subject matter from every angle. My latest WIP features some white nationalists with racist ideology. I made a point not to use any racial slurs or derogatory language in the book. It wasn't easy, but I couldn't go there (ironic, as killing the masses isn't an issue). Instead I used a POV character who'd been fully immersed in that world but with whom the reader could sympathize.

So my last whisperings of advice for NYUS readers are...
To always see issues from both sides.
Always do your research.
To be fearless, but don't turn off your reader.
(And, as always, advice is something that works for some and not others, so feel free to ignore :))

I'll be around the internet even though I should be writing. Hope to see you there!

If you want to check out the blurb for COLD MALICE it's on my website.


Elise Warner said...

Toni: As usual a great blog with sound advice. and Happy Birthday to your adoptive country.

Cathy Perkins said...

Happy Birthday Canada

Terrific advice, Toni

Don't be a stranger

Sandy Parks said...

Canada's birthday reminds me of young our countries are in this part of the world. As usual great advice. Good luck on your serial killer story, sounds scary...and that is good!

Anne Marie Becker said...

Great advice, and happy Canada Day!

Lisa Q. Mathews said...

Thank you, Toni! We'll miss you and your wonderful posts--hope you'll visit soon.

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