Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday Writerly Way ~ Why I Write Suspense Fiction

As a writer and author you write what you read. The same is true for me. As a writer, never underestimate the power of what you read and how it shapes you as a writer.  You may read in trends for the short term but you always return to a favorite. This process starts from early childhood and follows you to present day if you like of it.

So in this blog today we examine me and why I write suspense.

I've always loved a good mystery and suspense filled adventurous books even as a child. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, was the first book I can remember that fits the bill. Yes, good, old Dr. Seuss. Followed quickly by The Cat in the Hat. My mother bought the series of Dr. Seuss books for us girls as children and at night taught herself how to read English with them.

Having a grandmother, who was a librarian in a tiny Nebraska town, put the final nail in the coffin as my love for reading grew and was nurtured. No matter where we were in the world, birthdays were celebrated with books usually one of the Nancy Drew series.

As life if our life style of danger, suspense, and mortal fear in real life wasn't enough, I craved the action/adventure/suspense genre. To me it was normal life with a twist while other readers read them to get action/adventure/danger in their lives. So when I started writing poetry, my early attempts at writing, it was geared not at images of fluffy clouds and teddy bears, but evil things in life. Although I did tone it down when I wrote pieces for school.

I even won an award for my school poetry judged by none other than Arthur C. Clarke. He became a fast friend and mentor to a wide eyed teenager. Although I must admit it, was more on my side than his. He probably thought me a nuisance and a pesky kid but graciously let me carry on with my intrusion into his life. I've read everything he's ever written and even collected some of his signed first editions.

He was a favored guest at many dinner parties and luncheons in Ceylon when I was there so I talked to him in moon eyed awe. I dreamed of writing science fiction one day. But I knew I could never write as well as him and it seemed an insult to try although he encouraged me to.

During my teenage years I continued to write teenage poetry of teenager angst and short stories. I continued to read but added Shakespeare and nonfiction to my reading repertoire. I loved the classics although I shied away from romances. If I read a romance it had to have a wicked twist to it like Romeo and Juliet.

To this day I'll read only a smattering of romance novels.

They have to have a twist like Anya Seton's Green Darkness or paranormal romance. It can't all be about girl finds boy, girl loses boy or overcome tremendous obstacles, and boy and girl live happily ever after. There has to be that twist. Historical significance or strange. I think that's why I read Nicholas Sparks. It's not all happy endings because real life isn't. I'm grounded that way.

In my young adult life there were other authors that influential in my writing career. There are many authors that live in the Golden Isles. I rub elbows with most of them. We bounce ideas off each other all the time. Most notably was Eugenia Price when she was writing her Lighthouse series and I was helping her with research. She was a neighbor of a great aunt in law. But even with her encouragement, I chose to write nonfiction to help others. Branching out into fiction was my choice for me. I chose suspense because that's what I loved best reading.
 
So why do I write suspense? It's the twists and turns within the novel. It's leading the reader down the primrose path and jerking them every which way but loose. I love putting the reader on a roller coaster blind folded. Just as I like to read. It's my own, personal, long lasting love affair in reading so isn't it natural for me to write it?

Now for the plugs and examples of my roller coaster ride blindfolded in writing.

In Escape from Second Eden, it's the roller coaster ride of international intrigue of embassy life. It's where a insignificant embassy guard's wife is drawn into the world of international power plays for control on the world stage. When this pawn on the cheese board's family is threatened, she pulls out all the stops to protect her family and escape the madness. How far will she go and will she succeed?

In The Sacrificial Lamb, you are told who the murderer is right up front, but the roller coaster comes ride takes off from there in proving his guilt. This was told through the eyes of a child and the only witness. Another nice twist. What's a child to do when the killer want her silenced permanently?

In the Zombie Apocalypse series, or it will be when I finish writing them, it's about survival against the zombie horde.  If it didn't have zombies it would be in the medical or eco-friendly suspense genre because it it is almost totally about self-sufficiency. What's a small group to do when the odds are stacked against them?

This book is my best seller so far out stripping my others by hundreds of copies sold ensuring a royalty check each month or quarter in the self-publishing arena. All of my novels contain the unexpected twists and turns just like my real life. The reader gains seconds to gain their breath before I put them in a loop-de-loop on the roller coaster. Although my real life is not so dangerous anymore, I have plenty of skeletons in my closet to write about for the next hundred books, if I live that long.

Even my nonfiction has elements of suspense if not suspenseful humor. While my current WIP takes a serious switch from my norm and it is strictly the humorous look at stroke recovery, it's not without some suspense. I can't help it...I'm a suspense fiction writer in all forms.

So as you can see my past echoes my present. While many writers write what they know and love, I bring an element of truth to my fiction works my life experiences. That's what separates me from other suspense writers.

Did it really happen? Could it really happen? Muhahah! Only I know for sure. I am the suspense with a soul writer!

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

10 comments:

Rinelle Grey said...

I loved Dr Seuss as a child too, and so does my daughter. Great books.

Jeremy [Retro] said...

you are an amazing person, i think you offer so much in so many different ways all good. it's a honor to be your bud. yeah, i don't think i covered anything in your post... i am said sam!

Kimberly said...

All your books sound great! I'm not surprised the zombie one is a best seller. :)

J.L. Murphey said...

Rinelle, When I first started reading, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, there wasn't much available except Dr Seuss. Now there are tons of books.

Jeremy- Oh stop, honey. You are making an old woman blush.

Kimberly- Thanks.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm still in awe you knew Arthur C. Clarke...

J.L. Murphey said...

Alex, Why? We lived in the same country for a number of years and crossed paths with many expats. Lord knows, I'm old enough to have known him. It seemed only natural to me at the time. He split his time between Colombo (the capital) and his estate near Kandy.

But many sci-fi writers say the same thing. Jack McDevitt says the same thing every time we get together. He has won the Clarke prize for sci-fi.

When you've been in the business as long as I have you meet a lot of authors.

Sarah Allen said...

I'll admit this isn't my typical genre, but these look like some great reads! And ya gotta love Are You My Mother :D

Sarah Allen
(From Sarah, With Joy)

J.L. Murphey said...

Sarah, Thank for stopping by. Genre readers are a specific readers. I don't expect to please everyone...only myself.

Kristen Dyrr said...

It's funny how our early paths are the same. I started with Dr. Seuss then Nancy Drew as well. I also like mystery/suspense, although I'm a big fan of non-fiction and sci-fi books now.

J.L. Murphey said...

Kristen,
As we age we might choose different genres to read, but we always return to our first loves. As writers we write what we love to read.