Today is the final day for the 2010 Detectives Around the World event and I have the honor of interviewing a mystery fan – our very own Dani Greer.
For those of you who don’t know, Dani is the force behind The Blood-Red Pencil blog, an accomplished editor, artist, mentor of writers, friend of the Earth, and voracious reader. Her favorite books to read and edit? You guessed it – mysteries!
You’ve made no secret of your love of cozies. What attracts you to this form?
To put it simply, no blood and guts. I have a really weak stomach. That goes for sex, too. In a cozy, I get a protagonist I can relate to - they're weak, too. I don't have to face all the violence and gore, and when there's a romance built-in, as there often is, I get the sweet old-fashioned hearts-and-flowers relationship, with not too much gore there either. It's the perfect world.
Is editing mysteries different from editing other fiction?
I actually chart the storylines to keep track of the clues, potential red herrings, and where the plot is moving. It can get very complicated, convoluted even, and the author has to wrap up all the assorted plots at least to some degree, or the reader won't be very satisfied. So it can get a little challenging, keeping it all straight. Of course, the more one reads mysteries, the easier it is to predict outcomes. I like the ones that slap me upside the head with a surprise ending. When I'm just editing, and not reading for pleasure, I read the first few chapters, and then the last. This helps me watch for clues throughout the book that lead me to the resolution. And, no, it doesn't spoil a good read! I hear all those gasps out there.
Are there special writing or editing challenges for different kinds of mysteries?
A couple of points come to mind. First, an editor has to develop a good "ear" for era. I love history mysteries, and nothing can pull a reader out of a story faster than a modern expression or word from the wrong time period. For example, a policeman would not issue an APB in 1925 because the acronym for All Points Bulletin didn't come into popular use until the 1960's. The technology for radios in police vehicles was brand new in the mid-twenties though, so that could be included, although probably in a large city setting, not a small village police department. That's just one example.
Mysteries are also often written in series, and one place an editor plays a useful role is in making sure facts and events from previous books are accurate to the current novel. You don't want uncomfortable loose ends from book-to-book. For example, if the protagonist began a romantic relationship in one book, the reader needs to know what happened to the love interest. The author can't just drop the situation in a subsequent book without some explanation. We are sharp - we remember everything! We'll want to know what happened to handsome Fred and why he's not dating Sally anymore.
For the last six weeks, Detectives Around the World has conducted a round-robin contest where readers are voting for their favorite all-time fictional detective. Who’s your favorite and why?
Most of my favorite sleuths are amateurs, and I have far too many modern names to list here. (Got out of that one quick, didn't I?) I love Jane Marple, of course, and even have the BBC videos with Joan Hickson who reminds me so much of my German Oma, it's uncanny. I think I inherited my love of mysteries from her - she always had a "crimmie" to hand.
Do you have a favorite Detective Jackson mystery?
The last one, of course. Which isn't even in print yet. Hehe. (Note to readers: Dani is a beta reader for the Detective Jackson mysteries.) It really is the best so far. Sometimes the third or fourth book in a series can lag a tiny bit, but not in this series. L.j. Sellers really put a tight thriller together, what I call "not quite cozy" because it's a police procedural. But she writes with sensitivity, so I can recommend them to any reader. I'm also enjoying the character development in this series. The reader gets to know these people, and they grow on an emotional level. We're not just given a fast plot and interesting, contemporary themes. Our regulars are changed by the events, and that shakes things up a bit more.
What do you enjoy more, reading, editing, writing, modeling, or painting?
None of the above, although I enjoy them all. I love brainstorming the best. I just wish I could get paid to do it.
Is there a question you always hope to be asked and never are?
How much shall I write that check for? Snort! I'm going to write that into a novel someday - the one entitled, In My Dreams.
Thanks a bunch, Dani! How much should I write that check for? Not.
And now for our readers' chance to win a copy of Secrets to Die For. Today's question - What is your favorite mystery novel or series and why?
Charlotte Phillips is the co-author of the Eva Baum Detective Series, many short stories, and contributor to multiple blogs. Learn more about Charlotte, her books, and her short stories at:
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