It’s July, it’s summer, and I’ve started to write the fourth Darby Farr Mystery.
There’s nothing more exciting to me than getting a new book underway. First, I find one of my kids’ cast off spiral bound notebooks (usually labeled “Social Studies” or “Language Arts”) and I flip to the clean pages. Where will this mystery take place? Since my series moves around, I think of the setting as almost another character. It will determine what the characters do for work, how they spend their free time, and even what drinks they drink. KILLER LISTING takes place on the coast of Florida, so many of the characters drink mojitos. DEADLY OFFER is set in California’s wine country, so you can imagine what’s being poured there…
Book Four of the Darby Farr Mystery Series will be set back in Maine, on Hurricane Harbor, so I don’t have to do the research I’d do with a new setting. I can read back through A HOUSE TO DIE FOR to remember key places in my fictional towns, consult the rough maps I made when I wrote that book, etc.
Now comes the fun part. Who will be the bad guy? Why would she or he go to the drastic step of murdering someone? What are his or her motivations, why do they think they can get away with it, and who is the unlucky person they’ll kill?
I start to put words on the page, letting the thoughts flow, and then, when I feel I have made some key decisions, I start to weave in Darby and dream up other characters. Gradually I can see the story arc take shape and that’s when I begin writing on my computer.
Starting a new book is a leap of faith. I have to believe that my rough ideas will indeed become a story, and that my story will be suspenseful and entertaining. At these beginning stages, I let myself create and try not to worry about any finished project. I get the words on the page.