Please join me in welcoming award-winning author W.S. Gager as the special guest blogger at Thoughts in Progress today.
W.S.’s latest book is A CASE OF ACCIDENTAL INTERSECTION (ISBN: 978-1-892343-70-3). Here’s a brief synopsis of it: “Mitch Malone hates hospitals, but when a suspicious traffic accident lands a comatose victim in the hospital, he must put that aside to find the truth. The surface looks smooth but the more the crime beat reporter looks the more bodies pop up, including a private detective and his own editor. Can he get to the truth before the surviving victim is murdered in her hospital bed and an elderly witness has a heart attack? Will he get his exclusive printed before he's the next victim?”
W.S. stopped by to talk about “creating mysteries in her head since second grade.”
I was asked recently about the first mystery I’d ever read and if that is why I write mysteries. I had to think a long time about that and realized the first mystery I remember was the “Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler. I didn’t read it but my second-grade teacher read a little bit to us every day. I hated it when she finished for the day and always at a cliffhanger. It was the year I hated my new school and was mad at everyone because I’d left my best friend behind.
That book opened a new world to me to fill the void of my loss. I knew I could do just as well as those four fictional kids but where would I find a boxcar to live in? I went on to read every book in the Boxcar series and then went through Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.
Why is this important? Is that why I write mysteries? Maybe, but I think the bigger reason is I have always looked for the mystery in life even when there wasn’t one. I’ve always created scenarios where I solved a crime because I was observant of some important fact. (Unfortunately, my observations were never needed in real life.) This was how I entertained myself when I didn’t have a book to read. To this day I still love to watch people and make up events that fit their actions.
I’ve told very few people how my mind really works because I would scare them. I see something seemingly harmless and can create some crime or criminal to fit. That attention to detail that I used to keep myself occupied as a child is what I exploit to make my characters come alive in my books. It has helped me layer in clues and give suspects attributes that could make them appear guilty or not at my whim. I try to make the reader race to the end to see who the killer is.
My job as a mystery writer is to entertain and keep you guessing until the final reveal. I’ve done my job when the reader smacks their forehead at the end of the book and says: “why didn’t I think of that.” The best compliments I hear are “I couldn’t put in down until the end,” or “I stayed up all night to finish it.” That is when I know I’ve done my job.
My early creations of killing people off might have been therapy for a mixed up kid. I can now only be thankful for that set of circumstance that let my imagination travel down the road of crime solver and not criminal. I want to keep my readers guessing just like I sat on the edge of my seat in second grade waiting to see what happened to the Boxcar Children.
What authors do you remember making you crazy until you could get back to their story?
W.S., thanks for blogging here today and sharing this background with us. Mysteries like you described - the ones that hold you captive until the very end - are the best.
Now for a little more background on W.S. She won first place in the Public Safety Writers Association Writing Contest - Unpublished Novel - 2010. She has lived in Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional woman's golfers. She enjoyed the fast past life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realizing babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline.
Since then she has been honing her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted with her life and that was to write mystery novels. Her main character is Mitch Malone who is an edgy crime-beat reporter always on the hunt for the next Pulitzer and won't let anyone stop him, supposedly.
The first installment in the Mitch Malone Mystery Series is A CASE OF INFATUATION. For more on W.S. and her writing, visit her website at www.wsgager.com or her blog at www.wsgager.blogspot.com. A CASE OF ACCIDENTIAL INTERSECTION is available for order at most bookstores, as well as in ebook for Kindle, Nook and other forms.