Mystery writing / writing is a mystery

This is a very short blog entry that is really just to share one thing with you.

I’ve been doing research on the author Richard Price because on Thursday night I’m teaching his book (masterpiece, if you ask me) Clockers for my mystery fiction class at Butler.

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I found this quote in an interview with him and it just about knocked my head off. One of the great true things I’ve heard said about writing…

“I have to be a little intimidated by what I’m writing about. I have to feel a little bit like I don’t think I can do this, I don’t think I can master this, I don’t think I can get under the skin of this, because when you’re a little scared, you’re bringing everything to the table because you’re not sure you can do it unless you bust your balls and really, really get into it. Terror keeps you slender. I need a sense of awe.”

That’s probably true of all art forms, and maybe all things that require effort to yield something complex and complete: “when you’re a little scared, you’re bringing everything to the table.”

In other words, when it’s hard you know you’re doing it right.

Can you tell I’m working out the idea for a new book? Can you tell it’s making me feel various complicated emotions, ranging from joy to terror?

The other thing that happened today was that I had a call with the marketing department at Quirk Books (or as I like to call her, Nicole) to discuss this summer’s little book tour in support of World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III. We’ll be announcing all the dates soon.

 

 

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Mystery Dance

An open letter to my fellow murder-fiction aficionados:

This spring I’ll be teaching a class here at Butler University, where I adjunct in the MFA writing program,  about  reading crime and mystery fiction—my (accurate) thesis being that truly great crime novels and mysteries, far from being mere “popcorn books” or “beach reads”, have much to teach us about structure, style, tension, conflict…you know, all the elements of good writing.

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So I’m in the process of drawing up a list of ten classic crime/mystery novels—no, you know what, forget “classic”—ten crime/mystery novels that are A) really good and B) pedagogically valuable, in terms of showing off some aspect or aspects of craft particularly well.

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All I’m 100% certain on, so far, are The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith, and Clockers, by Richard Price.

What else would you insist that I include?

 

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