Fame and following

by | Feb 22, 2021 | Newsletter

Do you have anything in common with a famous person, someone you admire?

One writer I admire is Val McDermid. The only thing the fabulous Ms McDermid and I have in common is we walk to nut things out. I learned this a couple of years ago when in Christchurch for the Ngaio Marsh Awards (New Zealand’s yearly awards for thriller and crime writing.) By the way, if you ever have the chance to see her speak, don’t miss the opportunity.

Stephen King also walks as many know, but I have the same things in common with him as I do Val. Maybe one day … but I digress.

Luckily, Orewa Beach is on my doorstep. It is long enough at around three kilometres for a good stretch to the estuary at the southern end, then back home. This is usually plenty of time to try and untwist a problem I may have in a plot line – as long as I am not distracted by cute dogs or Orca swimming along the coast. Yes, I ‘digress’ a lot.

Unfortunately, sometimes I forget I am out in public. If something wondrous strikes me I am prone to stopping dead in my tracks while I mull over the feasibility of an angle, this often preceded by a loud ‘Of course!’ Anyone observing me from a distance must think I’m a little touched. But there you go.

Walking is a great way to solve a problem.

Hennessey Reed, my protagonist in ONE FOR ANOTHER, and the soon to be released DYING GRASS MOON, has her share of problems. She has no handy beach to wander along in the middle of Idaho Territory, but  there is a saloon full of people willing to offer their opinion whether she wants it or not, a stash of Irish whiskey to help with the thinking process, and a fast stallion to take for a gallop if she needs to blow out some cobwebs.

Much of the time she distracts herself from her problems. Sometimes she simply avoids or ignores them altogether.

A taster from DYING GRASS MOON: Hennessey Reed Mystery #2. Due out mid-year.

As a writer of (so far) historical novels I am limited on what clues can be scattered about the landscape, and how my characters can legitimately investigate certain aspects of the crimes involved. This takes a lot of research, which I love, but the story line can sometimes be hampered by timelines of scientific discoveries and practices, which leads me having to be that little bit more creative. After starting to write a contemporary crime novel, I stumbled upon the book below. What a goldmine it is, and even if you aren’t a writer who needs authentic facts, figures, and examples of true life, it is well worth the read.

I had spent considerable energy observing a generous distance between Joshua and myself unless unavoidable, wishing to circumvent interaction with him that had potential to become …  problematic. Until now he, most assuredly, had endorsed the sentiment.

“Good afternoon, Joshua.” I inhaled an emboldening breath and tried not to choke on the good wishes when freeing them into the air. “Allow me to extend congratulations on Zeus’s win.”

“Thank you, Hennessey.” Hughes took my words at face value and responded accordingly, magnanimous in victory. “Samson ran a commendable race although, to my advantage, that wasn’t enough today.”

“The faster, better horse won.”

“Yes, he did.”

Hailed by an ale-infused well-wisher Joshua bid Lizzie and me farewell and dipped his chin to supplement his adieu, a chanticleer prepared to bask in further glory.

“Well, that was a surprisingly cordial exchange. Considerin’,” Lizzie said when we resumed maundering, her equilibrium apparently restored. “You sickenin’ from somethin’?”

“I strive to always be graceful in defeat, Lizzie.”

“That’s utter claptrap, Hennessey Reed,” she said. When I turned to her, my expression exaggerated innocence, she scowled. “And don’t you go lookin’ at me with those big blue eyes, all harmless as a kitten. You’re up to your elbows in some kinda skullduggery.”

“Whatever gives you that impression?”

“Years of association, that’s what.”’

This book was published a few years back. Not only does Val McDermid write a blinder of a crime novel, she has written a fascinating account from the early days of forensic science with Locard and his edict ‘every contact leaves a trace’, to the present day marvels of DNA. It is an educational insight of an extraordinary science.

Book cover - Forensics: The Anatomy of CrimeThis book was published a few years back. Not only does Val McDermid write a blinder of a crime novel, she has written a fascinating account from the early days of forensic science with Locard and his edict ‘every contact leaves a trace’, to the present day marvels of DNA. It is an educational insight of an extraordinary science.

And if you find this kind of information as interesting as I do, do a wee Google of ‘virtopsy’, which is a virtual, non-invasive autopsy. As the name suggests, it does not require a scalpel or saw, and to someone like myself who quakes at the sight or thought of blood (yet writes murder mysteries – I know, go figure) seems a gentler and more respectful way to gain information than a traditional autopsy.

Take care everyone and, as always, I wish you happy reading.

Andrea

Of course, not only do I love to write, I love to read. On my bedside table at the moment is THE DEAD HOUR, by Denise Mina. A beautifully written crime novel with an atypical protagonist.

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