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3/27/2016 12:33:51 AM
Never Take the Short Cut
So, this is how it happened, from idea to Castle to meltdown to other meltdown:
Several years ago, when I turned onto the "short cut" I was taught to take to Corpus Christi from Houston, I thought about how creepy and desolate the road looked in the dark, the same thought I'd had many times before.
But, this time, I started thinking about how it would suck to have car trouble on that road and be all alone. I'd been reading a funny mystery series by Harley Jane Kozak around this time, so I guess my thoughts wandered off in that direction. I started thinking about other reasons a woman could be on the side of that road and what could happen under those circumstances.
While I was finishing No More Mr. Nice Girl, I kept coming up with ideas for that "short cut" book and making notes about it.
I already knew I didn't want to write a book in which the comedy came from the heroine being stupid and bumbling most of the time and a guy constantly having to rescue her from her silly self (even though I'd enjoyed some series like that). I really like smart people. I want to be around smart people. And I would be spending a lot of time with these characters if I wrote this book.
I also liked the idea of a duo--heroine and hero--with a relationship more like Rick Castle and Kate Beckett have in the TV show Castle. Both are smart in their own ways. Sometimes she rescues him. Sometimes he rescues her. Sometimes they rescue themselves or each other.
By the time No More Mr. Nice Girl came out, I had a bunch of notes and portions of scenes written, so I decided to go ahead and start officially writing my mystery series. (I'm not sure when, exactly, it became a series in my mind, but I actually had notes to go in about 6 different books by then.)
Then, one day, I was working on Dead Men Don't Chew Gum, trying to figure some more details out--unlike romantic comedies, mysteries need things like clues and red herrings and dangerous action--and I asked myself, "What the hell were you thinking? Why would you assume you could write a mystery and then tell everyone you were writing a mystery? What do you know about writing mysteries?????"
Actually, I think this happened several times while I was writing the book, and sometimes the feeling lasted for several days.
Apparently, I worked through it because I sent it out to 3 times as many beta readers as I did my last book, expecting them to find major holes in the story. They didn't. Only a few minor, easily fixable things.
Whew! (A hundred thousands words is a lot for me to keep straight.)
They did tell me it was funny and romantic and the mystery kept them guessing. However, yesterday, while in the middle of writing the 2nd Martin and Owen Mystery--Dead Men Don't Eat Quiche--I freaked out again and asked myself, "What the hell were you thinking? Why would you assume you could write a mystery and then tell everyone you were writing a mystery? What do you know about writing mysteries?????"
But such is the roller coaster confidence of a writer, and today I pulled myself together and got back to work.
Meanwhile, in case you are wondering, here are the answers to some likely questions:
Are these mysteries funny like your romantic comedies?
Yes. My beta readers who have also read my romantic comedies tell me that Dead Men Don't Chew Gum is very funny. My editor claims it's the best book I've written (but I'm not sure she's trustworthy, so you can read the sample to see what you think).
Is there romance?
Yes. But the romance starts in the first book and develops over several books.
Will you write more romantic comedies that are not mysteries?
Yes. In fact, this series has inspired more romantic comedies because there are several secondary characters who I think deserve romances. One appears in Dead Men Don't Chew Gum and others are mentioned but don't appear until the second book. In fact, I count at least 5 characters I already know of from this series that should have their own romantic comedies. One of them will actually meet up with a friend of Dillon's (the one who made him his millions) from No More Mr. Nice Girl. I wonder what you call that. A double-cross-over?
Are you as crazy as some of your characters?
Okay, first, imaginary reader, that was kind of rude. Second, once one is a published author, she gets to be referred to as "quirky" or "eccentric," not "crazy." It's a rule. And, third, yes I'm pretty crazy...um, I mean, quirky.
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