Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Plucking Ideas from the Air

People always ask where the ideas for my fiction come from. My answer is "They're all around me." There are a hundred stories in every interaction, every chance meeting. The trick is to recognize the kernel of one that can be polished into a premise that will go the distance, an idea with the legs to propel me 400 pages.

The idea for HUSH came while I was, like my heroine Megan, stuck in traffic. In the side mirror of the car ahead of mine, I caught a glimpse of part of the driver's face. He was talking a blue streak and though I can't speechread like Megan, I wondered who he was talking to, what he was talking about. And because the heavy traffic had put me in a murderous frame of mind, my thoughts turned to killings-for-hire. I asked myself the writer's question--"What if ... ?" and the rest turned into HUSH.

My method of letting stories find me is not usual. I know some writers swear by brainstorming. Others use taro cards. Some start with character. Others are inspired by an object, by music, or news headlines. If you're a writer, where do you find your ideas?

Visit to learn more.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

HUSH . . . My first Middlesex Mystery

I'm a multi-published author in another genre under a different pen name, but HUSH is my first suspense. The craft of writing is the same, where ever the final product might be shelved in a bookstore, but writing suspense poses some unique challenges. How much to hold back, what clues to hide in plain sight, how much blood is too much . . . the trick is always to make a path in the prose, a series of literary bread crumbs that keep the reader turning pages and guessing what comes next along with the sleuth.

My sleuth in HUSH faces some unique challenges. For one thing, she's only got 60% of normal hearing with two hearing aids. Without them, her hearing is classified as profound loss. And she's only 26. Meningitis in her sophomore year of college nearly killed Megan Kelley, but she won't let her impairment stop her from achieving. She graduated from Boston College with honors. The only real casualty was her marriage to her high school sweetheart.

I first became interested in the challenges of the Deaf and hearing-impaired as a child. One of my friends had Deaf grandparents. My friend taught me to finger-spell. Then later as an adult, one of my close friends was an interpreter. I tried to learn some ASL, but was less successful with that than finger-spelling. ASL is a language all its own, not just English by hand.

My heroine Megan straddles two worlds--the hearing one she was born to and the Deaf one she still feels uncomfortable with. The tension between the two is a difficult tightrope to walk. Add in accidentally speechreading a murder-for-hire contract, and she's got a terrific balancing act.

Visit my website at to read more.