I decide on a murder victim, and why he or she might have been murdered by possible suspects. I then come up with an inciting incident and go from there, one scene at a time. I’m a plodder. Since my protagonist is an old man telling a young caregiver about a case during his private eye days, I wrote his story first, and was then better able to fill in the present-day sections where he’s talking with his caregiver about this case in the past. That’s also how I’m approaching it with the sequel.
How do you get your inspiration?
Well, aside from the acknowledged beneficial influence I’ve garnered from other mystery writers, when it comes to getting motivated to write, I sit down in front of the keyboard, I re-read the scene I wrote last; I tweak it some, and find that this generally “primes the pump” sufficiently enough so that I can go on with the next scene. Thankfully, this approach seems to work, because though I might jot down a note here and there as an idea comes to me during the week, I have a set time only one day a week when I can do my writing, so I have to make that time count.
How do you do your research? Do you pretty much stick to the Internet or consult experts or librarians?
Over the years, I’ve interviewed an old-timer or two of my acquaintance about Seattle back in the post World War Two era. But they’re gone now. A time or two I’ve accessed old newspaper archives. I will draw on books as needed of course, and yes, I certainly do online research—which is a real boon, to be sure. For instance, I’ll check for images of clothes, furniture, buildings, cars, and such, of the period in which my novel is set, for use and for description purposes. There’s also much about Seattle’s history that’s available online which is very helpful.
What authors have influenced you?
Many. But to narrow it down when it comes to the kind of book I’ve written, I’d say chiefly Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe), Dashiell Hammett (Sam Spade, the Continental Op), Raymond Chandler (Philip Marlowe), and Ross Macdonald (Lew Archer).
Do you have any feedback comments from readers that you found particularly gratifying and that you’d care to share?
One reader messaged me on Facebook about my novel and told me “It was a blast to read,” and “I absolutely loved it. You have such a way with a descriptive phrase.” Another reader contacted me via my webpage to tell me that my principal characters were “likable” and also said, “I read mysteries constantly… your book was very good. I have you on my list to watch for your next one.” After writing for a hobby for several years, with little or no feedback, such comments have been a real “shot in the arm” for me, to say the least.