Every crime novel begins with a disquieting event, whether in the news or observed, that ferments in the author’s imagination, sometimes, for years before appearing on the pages. The germ of the idea for Shallow End, fourth in the Stonechild and Rouleau police procedural series, came from my earlier years working as a special education teacher.
For some time now, I’ve been learning to juggle. I’ve pretty much mastered the principle of throwing objects up in the air at different times; it’s just catching them on the way down I’m still having trouble with. Regardless of how high I throw things, they always seem to come back to me at the same time. The same is true of writing a series. I have written one Birder Murder Mystery per year for the last four years and sent them out into the public arena. This is the equivalent of throwing them in the air.
Why do people love mysteries?
Of course, any answer to this is speculation only. We want to understand, and cannot, so we fall back on speculative reasoning - which allows us at least a small step forward towards comprehension. Much like the mystery novel itself.
But fifteen years is a long time for a writer to spend with the same characters in the same place. I wanted to travel. I wanted to meet new people. So I put him, his long-suffering wife, and his loyal colleagues on the shelf, left the complex, subtly hued city of Ottawa, and set off into the wilderness, both literally and figuratively.
By now, many of you will have seen this article in USA Today, stating that “creepiness” is linked to clowns, men, and birdwatching. I have to say, I agree whole-heartedly. There are few creepier things than stalking through a quiet forest early in the morning only to be confronted by a man in a polka-dotted jumpsuit and a red nose, carrying a pair of high-end Swarovskis.
Tell us about your book.
The ultimate giveaway came when Robert B. Parker began running an author’s photo on his book jackets showing him in poses with his dog. For years, and over the course of a dozen or more novels in Parker’s compelling series featuring the Boston private eye Spenser, I had figured that Parker, in shaping Spenser’s personality and back story, had borrowed elements from his own life and grafted them on to his fictional guy Spenser. Parker had fought in the Korean War; so did Spenser.