Writing a Different Mystery

Eye of the BlackbirdA few months ago, I posted that I was going to write a mystery. I had decided to take the rather unwieldly general-fiction novel I was writing and recast it as a mystery. I did some research, since the book would deal in part with spies during World War II and the Cold War, and wrote the first fifty pages. Those chapters got a thumbs-up from my three favorite readers, and I sent them down to my agent, Paige.

As it happened, Paige and I had just had a conversation about books of mine that had never been published. One of those is the thriller—Eye of the Blackbird—I mentioned in that earlier blog post, the book that came this close to being published. Paige suggested I take a look at it and see if it could be revised.

I balked initially. The book is set in 2000. It involves money laundering and other intricacies of the financial world; and the main character has been living incognito, with false identities for her and her son, for three years. The details and explanations that made those plot complications believable in 2000 would not work fifteen years later. Knowing all the changes that would need to be made daunted me. Still, while I waited to hear Paige’s reaction to the first chapters of The Whistle Murder, I decided to reread Blackbird.

I read it straight through one Saturday afternoon and my reaction was a surprised: Hey, this isn’t bad. Yes, it needs all that bring-it-up-to-2015 work, but it has strong characters, a believable plot, and rising action, with a couple of minor climaxes and one great major one.

I e-mailed Paige and told her we might have something here. In the meantime, she had read the opening chapters of The Whistle Murder and thought that was also viable. This does not translate to an overabundance of riches, but having two working, workable book ideas is exciting.

Blackbird will require research, as well as significant revising and reworking of characters and plot, but I will be working with an already complete book. So The Whistle Murder goes back on the shelf, and I will start writing a different mystery.

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In which I blog about the days I write and the days I don’t write; about teaching about writing; about reading (which is never enough); and occasionally about music, because sometimes a three-minute song can tell as good a story as a novel.

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