By Sally Carpenter
Greetings! We’re an eclectic group of mystery authors talking about the craft of writing and the clues of detection. Sharing our thoughts over the Internet might be criminal!
We’ll begin with introductions. I’m a native Hoosier now ensconced in Southern California. I grew up in a small rural Midwest town where reading books was the only recreation. I was storyteller at a young age. While my mother washed dishes and I dried, to pass the time I made up stories.
During summers, mom dropped me off at the library in town while she went shopping; easier than getting a babysitter. In eight grade I won the library’s summer reading contest by devouring the most books.
My first published piece was a puppet play. My high school had a working TV studio and the seniors produced shows to air to the elementary schools. As “Sesame Street” had just burst on the airwaves, our shows used puppets too and I wrote a silly skit that the puppet company put in its newsletter.
During a midlife crises, I returned to college to pursue the theater degree I always wanted but didn’t get because, as my parents said, “you’d never get a job in it,” despite the fact my first real job out of college was with a traveling drama troupe.
In college I focused on playwrighting. Two plays that I wrote in the playwrighting class were finalists in a multi-state college theater competition. One of the scripts also received a college drama prize and the other was produced in New York City.
One of these plays was about an aging teen idol and one of his grown-up fans. A professor said, “I see a bigger story for these characters.” We’ll get back to them later.
After college, in a fit of madness I moved to So Cal. Eventually I ended up in my present day job at a community newspaper. One day a press release came across my desk at work; a local library was hosting a Sisters in Crime panel discussion. A voice in my head said, “You need to go to this.” At the event, as the various authors described the mysteries they wrote, I thought, “I can do this!”
I used the characters from my college play to create a cozy series with a former teen idol named Sandy Fairfax, although at the time I didn’t know a cozy from a thriller. But thanks to the support and guidance of the mystery authors I’ve met since, I’ve published three books and four short stories. I have a WIP (work in progress) and plans for a second cozy series.
PS. I’m also “mom” to a few black cats.
Enough about me. Let’s hear from the other ladies of mystery!