Vivid. Believable. Atmospheric.
I see words like this — words used by readers to describe my books — and I’m blown away. I can’t express how grateful I am for these reviews. I hope that I can keep producing books that meet these standards. It’s for this reason that much of the time I spend “writing” each book in the Adam Kaminski mystery series is actually time spent researching.
I spent many years studying Polish history and the Polish political system. I use knowledge I gained in my years at the State Department and National Park Service. I talk with friends and colleagues who are archaeologists, to make sure my recollection of archaeology from my graduate school days is accurate. And I read. A lot.
All of this is to ensure that my stories, while completely fictional, are also realistic and believable.
Yet I hit those points occasionally where I have to stop writing and say wait, what? (I try to say this silently in my head, but I don’t always succeed). That point where I’ve written myself into a corner and I need to come up with a realistic reason why a Philadelphia cop would be sent to Poland. Or how a religious leader could help investigate a murder. Or why a statistician, archaeologist and mathematician might be collaborating. Just for example.
Sometimes there is no way. As Lisa Cron points out in this insightful article at Writers Unboxed, it’s rarely a good idea to try to create an internal logic to your story when one doesn’t exist.
On the other hand, sometimes it just clicks. Like when I open the New York Times to find a fascinating article about how statisticians, mathematicians and archaeologists collaborated to determine literacy rates in ancient Judah. Eureka!
I love it when all the puzzle pieces somehow fit together perfectly. (And, yes, hate it when I have to delete an entire plot thread because, in the end, it just doesn’t work.)
I actually enjoy research. Learning about other people, other places, other skills. It’s part of the joy of writing for me.
But in some ways, the fun part is when I get to make stuff up. Come up with creative and unexpected motives for murder, or alibis that seem strong but have an almost invisible loop-hole. For while the scholars studying ancient Judah may have been working together on a history-changing exercise, I’m fairly certain none of them is plotting murder.
That’s all on me.
How about you – when you read or when you write, how important is it that the storyline be believable?
Find out more about me and the Adam Kaminski mystery series at janegorman.com