Monday, November 11, 2013

Oh, so much more than that.

Coming soon to an electronic bookstore near you.

I’m just finishing up ‘Blessed Are the Humble,’ my new book and mystery # 3 in the Maintenon Mystery Series.

It’s interesting, how after I got a few thousand words down, the story sort of took off on its own.

By making certain choices early in the book, many other choices were eliminated later in the book. And yet certain opportunities presented themselves. They always do.

Every thought you ever had, every thing you ever saw or heard, read, or imagined, is still inside of you.

It’s all there, logged into your memory banks. Much of it is so obscure, it will never be needed. It will never be called upon—unless you want to be a writer or something stupid like that.

Nothing is forgotten. It’s all there in some subconscious thought factory, one that rules our dreams and even our body.

Mind, body, spirit, right?

All of that can come to the surface again when it is called upon. It’s called regurgitation.

That’s not to say that I’m rewriting AgathaChristie, but all the previous mystery novels that I have read undoubtedly play a part in whatever I write in that genre.

It’s called ‘influences,’ and we all have a few.

My characters, who seem to spring, at least in my own eyes, directly formed, right off of the page, say the dumbest things—and it always gets me to thinking.

What in the hell did he mean by that?

But of course it is my subconscious mind, well trained over the years, trying to tell me something.

In the first chapter, I set up a crime, and made certain statements, statements that must hold true for the entire book, or must be accounted for in some way otherwise.

The internal logic of a mystery novel must be true unto itself, even if it is true unto no other thing or world. 

Your subconscious mind has internal logic too.

Internally, if I introduce something early in the book, ideally, it should be accounted for later on. If not, I can always go back and cut out those red herrings, those erroneous clues that mean nothing except that the author was laying some groundwork, of a sort that ultimately was unnecessary.

All that shit is bubbling away below the surface. In me. That’s where it’s all happening.

I knew the ending, or at least who had committed this crime before I even set foot into the writing of this book. Fun metaphor, right? But those red herrings were useless once I got going, and so I took them out again.

Easy, right? And when I ran across a statement, I thought it through. As best I could. And came up with objections. Objections which I subsequently shot down, by going to an appropriate place in the manuscript, and taking out something stupid, and writing in something new.

That’s called logic.

All I really had to do, was to write a practical set-up for the ending of my book. It’s a mystery book. It’s formulaic to begin with, and must be so or the readers kind of miss the point.

Then I went through and checked all my logic, all the names and faces, time-frames and stuff like that. If you have a male murderer, and your detective and the evil lady are struggling in mortal combat upon the Empire State Building, and yet the entire sequence of events is in Tokyo, with the scene set in Paleolithic Africa, then I guess you would have a bit of a problem.

An interesting mash-up, but not your classic formula mystery novel.

People can’t be in two places at once, and people must have motive for an extraordinary act.

My story happens in Paris, and it’s not that difficult to keep it in Paris. Until one character goes on the lam—then I had to look up border towns on the way to Lausanne, which is in Switzerland.

The characters drive the story! Whoever would have thunk it.

And so the characters can be said to have led me on. They led me on a merry chase, and I had to work hard just to figure these guys out. In order for Inspector Gilles Maintenon to solve this murder, first I had to solve it. In order to solve it, I had to have les clue.

Writing a mystery novel is an interesting mental exercise.

It’s easier said than done. I need evidence to convict a criminal character. The only person who could provide compelling evidence, motive, modus operandi and all of that sort of thing is the writer himself.

To say that I had fun writing the book would be an understatement. The whole thing works out to about 65,300 words. It took twenty-eight writing days and four drafts, which took another three or four days. I will no doubt read it again, four or five times more.

That’s interesting, because John Creasey, who is said to have received seven hundred sixty-five rejection slips before making his first novel sale, is also said to have written books in a very short time. He also wrote six hundred novels. Eight different pen names. He even wrote science fiction.

Books which he sold for some ludicrous sum; and I mean like all of twenty-five pounds for a mystery or crime thriller novel. Back then, I guess the rents were cheap or something.

I’ve read quite a few of his books as well, as my grandfather had a whole shelf full of them.

Mystery readers love a puzzle, and I have set them a good one. All of the clues, both the physical and yes, the all-important psychological ones, are right there in black and white.

What you make of them, is up to you.

In the beginning, it was such a simple crime: to write a mystery novel in about a month, to a length of 60,000 words.

It was a crime of pure arrogance.

But it was oh, so much more than that.

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