Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Mystery of Writing, or Writing the Mystery

First off, a digression. Scooby has his summer haircut--a bit late, since it's been hot for at least two weeks. But with his shaggy dog coat gone, he looks so cute--and, to my relief, he's not as fat as I had begun to fear. Now they even brush his teeth when the bathe him--how about that! He's so hard to handle--enthusiasm, not meanness--that my neighbor took him to the groomer and retrieved him, for which I am so grateful I'm going to fix them a leg of lamb Sunday night.

Friends and I went to Dallas tonight--I go some seldom it felt like an adventure. We ate at my very favorite restaurant, Patricio's--a hearts of palm salad--and then went to Barnes & Noble where Deborah Crombie was signing the 12th novel in her Scotland Yard police procedural series. I'm a big fan and have read all the other books. She talked about writing and brought up a couple of things I'd never thought about--she works hard to create crimes that forensics can't solve, because if the crime can be forensically solved, the detectives in the story wouldn't have anything to detect. She also has many story lines going in her books, so many that after her last 650-age manuscript, her editor expressed real hope that she would have fewer--and a shorter book. She has publishers and agents in the US, England and Germany--I can't imagine getting to that position. I'd happily settle for an agent and a publisher in the US and let it go at that. But her novels are dead-on about London, and the ongoing relationship between the two main characters carries the reader from one book to the next with a real sense of continuity. It's really a series that should be read in order--with some series it doesn't matter; with this one it does because the relationship deepens and matures. I was surprised at the crowd that turned out--maybe 75 people. I didn't expect her to talk and didn't expect to have to wait in line, but it was all fun.

I'm on vacation from my own mystery tonight, but I did scribble some notes after listening to Deborah, and I have some more ideas, mostly rewriting the first four chapters I've done. Last night I made major changes throughout, that I feel really improved the manuscript so far. But tongiht? Well, I'm torn. First of all, it's almost ten, and I don't last much past ten. And then there's that new mystery to read. But, wait, a copy of Southern Living came in the mail, and the recipes are always so good. So much to do, so little time!

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