Friday, May 29, 2009

What Makes a Suspense Writer Tick? by Carol Steward

Of course, I can't speak for others, but here are a few oddities about myself:

  • On 9-11, I was on my way home for lunch to watch the news, listening to the radio, and I found myself critiquing the radio announcer's report. (It's so difficult to turn off the editor inside a writer.)

  • During a record setting blizzard, police in my hometown were searching for a murder weapon. The murder happened a few blocks from my home, and I couldn't help but wonder which of our six-foot piles of snow would melt and reveal the murder weapon.

  • I can take a perfectly normal thunderstorm and turn it into a crime scene.

  • As I watched the news during Hurricane Katrina, I realized waiting for the levy's to break was like plotting a novel, building that anticipation as we waited and waited, making things get worse and worse, and then disaster and crisis and resolution...

  • When involved in an automobile accident, I immediately began trying to figure out how to work it into a book.

  • On my way home from work, I see police, with guns drawn, creeping around a fraternity house and my brain starts churning. What is happening inside? Is it a hostage situation? A burglary?

  • Sitting in our family room, I see what looks like someone signaling a neighbor with a flashlight and wonder if it's a drug deal going down. (Couldn't have anything to do with seeing a female dive into a neighbor's basement window after acting suspiciously.) It turned out the lights were from unusually heavy traffic two streets away.

  • It doesn't stop with me, however, a friend became suspicious when seeing two young men in a secluded field with shovels and an infant in a car seat late one spring evening. This went on for days. Turned out, they were "building" a dirt bike track, and our taking action on our suspicions put an end to their illegal project on private property.

  • At a restaurant, I hear a baby babbling, and am convinced that it's my 8-month-old grandson's voice. I text my police officer son and ask for his location. He doesn't answer, so I begin to investigate. Stealthily, I peruse the restaurant, and find the suspect voice AND my adorable grandson.

Nope, a suspense writer's brain is never at rest...


PamelaTracy said...

Me, too! I go camping and thinking about being in the middle of nowhere and who else might be in the middle of nowhere. I stay in motels and think about who is in the next room. I see potential everywhere.

EllenToo said...

It's a good thing authors have imaginations but doesn't it get scary at time???

Linda said...

AMAZING! Wish I had the gift!

Carol Steward said...

Hi Ladies,
Thanks for stopping by! Yes, it could get kind of creepy at times. I realize that trouble is all around us. That could get paralyzing if we let it. I think that facing the unknown in the middle of the night while delivering newspapers helped me to feel secure (sometimes too much so) in almost any neighborhood. And I also think that we can become so comfortable in our own environment that we don't watch out. We have to be careful about that!

mez said...

A writer's mind must never rest! Fun post.

Debby Giusti said...

Ah, Carol, I'm with you. No matter what's happening around me, I'm thinking about how to incorporate it into a story. Four friends having lunch at an upscale restaurant and I'm thinking about the plot they're hatching to murder their husbands. A high school reunion and I want to know where the body will be found. A snippet on the news about two prisoners who don guard uniforms and leave the facility at the change of shifts, which appeared in the news today, and I see those villains entering my WIP and causing havoc.

The writer's mind is a twisted thing indeed!