For me, crafting an original ‘deliciously witty and ingenious mystery’ is the fun part of being an author. It’s what has me scribbling ideas in my notebook in the middle of the night and gets me up in the morning. This is the ‘author intelligence’ I bring to my books and the respect I pay to my readers.
I do not use artificial intelligence in any form to write or edit my books.
In my upcoming mystery, A Deadly Concoction, one idea seeded the evolving plot. On page one, mystery author Tiggy Jones has the job of launching her local town’s Mystery Week. To entertain the audience, someone will hand her a bag of objects she’s never seen before. Tiggy plans to take them out one at a time and improvise how she’d use them in her next book.
I asked my newsletter subscribers to suggest some objects for the bag and one of those suggestions has now driven the plot of the whole book. Thank you Carol T!
When Tiggy pulls the object out, it has blood on it!
This object created lots of possibilities for ownership because it’s a kind of tool that can be used in a variety of hobbies and jobs. As soon as my author’s mind put blood on it, I asked myself how it got there. Was it owned by a clumsy crafter who accidentally injured themselves, but the investigation leads to a different crime? Or did a tradesperson use it as a deadly weapon?
There are clues to a location in the bag of objects. I searched for deaths and murders in regional English towns and up came some true crimes to inspire my fictional one. It needed to be a cold case that the discovery of the object might eventually solve (after a tangle of ‘twists and turns in every chapter’). I created a ‘curious death’ and put it in a fictional town, located within Dartmoor National Park to add an extra element of mystery.
Next I wrote a report on the death in the local paper. This was inspired by a broader search for newspaper reports using the word ‘baffled’. This real story about garden gnomes is quirky!
Meanwhile for the background behind the death, I researched a list of possibilities about who the victim could be and why they died. This involved investigating the history behind creating the kind of ‘concoction’ the title refers to.
The evolving plot is built by characters who turn up as Tiggy Jones investigates the clues and plots her own mystery.
Who discovered the mysterious death and what were they doing? Are they a suspect.
Who saw something suspicious the night it happened? Did they tell the police and if they didn’t, why not?
Does the crime reporter who wrote the story know something they can’t print? What if they’ve disappeared?
Were there other deaths that could be related to this one – or to the other objects in the bag? This question led to more research into: locations in Devon, folklore of Dartmoor, charms, Tudor architecture and much more.
The big question in all the Tiggy Jones books. This time, Raider has a whole thread related to him.
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