The book that started me on my reading journey of mysteries was The Hidden Staircase. It also started down the path that led to my desire to write.
The book sat in a storage shed for years. One day when I was exploring in my godparents’ yard in Fresno, California where they lived, I wandered into the only shed that they didn’t lock. This shed was the size of a two car garage. Inside were old tools and gadgets, a lot of dust and spiders, probably some other creatures who luckily didn’t interrupt my wanderings. In one spot lay an old book. I picked it up, dusted it off, and took it outside to read in the shade of my godmother’s garden. As another hot summer day came to a close, I finished that book. After that day, I hunted the bookstore and library for more like it. Mysteries!! An entire new shelf to explore…
I devoured books. I mostly read Sci-Fi, Science Fiction as it was called then, mostly due to my love of Star Trek. I read both science and fantasy, like The Hobbit, The Lord of the Ring trilogy, authors like Asimov, Bradbury, Cherryh, Clark, Heinlein, and so many more.
But The Hidden Staircase was the first mystery and like all first loves, remembered fondly. Next I read Sherlock Holmes, private eye novels, amateur detectives, police procedurals. I read all the time and so many of the authors are friends, colleagues and mentors that to leave out any one would be horrible and to list them, this blog will go on forever.
From reading to writing is a thin line for certain types of minds. Like my type; I can’t look at a situation without inventing countless scenarios and always with a crime involved. That is the mind of a mystery writer; the rabbit holes are dark and the actions of people suspicious, based on vices, that most of us never succumb to, thank goodness. But the people in my stories always do.
I’ve attended conferences, taken classes, read how to books, but the best advice is from Michael Connelly to write 15 minutes a day. I started with that and there are days when those fifteen minutes become hours spent in a world with the guilty, the innocent, the suspicious and the victims.
While, I may write about the blacker parts of the humans that populate my stories, at the heart of mysteries is the truth that this is not how the world should be, but if has to be then, may there always be a hero to stand up, right the wrongs and restore the world.
My first hero was Nancy Drew.