THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
I recently took an online quiz designed to determine whether I am a right-brained or left-brained person. There were probably a thousand other things that might have been a better use of my time, but I was intrigued (Clickbait, you’ve come to the right place). In a nutshell, right-brained people tend to be the more creative types, whereas left-brained people tend to be more analytical.
You may have seen this quiz, or recall one very much like it from 2015. People are shown a photo of a sneaker and asked what they see: is it gray and teal, or is it pink and white? Back in 2015, it was the dress. Did you see a blue and black dress or a white and gold one? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it. You’ll see what I mean.
In a brilliant illustration of what it’s like to be me, the sneaker and dress quizzes indicate that I fall into both right-brained and left-brained camps—or neither, depending on how you look at it.
In all seriousness, though, everyone has both right- and left-brain capabilities, though one side or the other happens to be dominant in most people. I honestly don’t know which is my dominant side.
I used to consider myself a left-brained person: verbal, analytical, and (somewhat) organized. That makes sense—I practiced law before turning to writing fiction, and the law is very logic-based. I know, I can hear you laughing from here, but it really is true, at least in a courtroom setting. Writing a novel requires a certain amount of logic, too. A writer’s job is to come up with a plot and a story arc that make sense to the reader.
The longer I’m away from the law, though, the more I find myself doing things like handicrafts and gardening and artwork and experimental cooking (I like to tweak or make up recipes just to see what will happen) in my spare time. These are typically considered right-brained activities.
This got me thinking: where does that leave the zealous lover of mystery fiction?
And here’s what I’ve decided: writers and readers of mysteries get to experience the best of both worlds (both sides of the brain) simultaneously.
The act of writing satisfies and exercises both analytical and creative muscles, as does the act of reading. Is there anything better than finding yourself immersed in a story, following along as if you’re part of the action? Whether you’re writing that story or reading it, you’re using both sides of your brain. You’re walking the logical path of the plot from beginning to end, puzzling out the clues, and you’re using your imagination to experience the sights, sounds, scents, and tactile sensations of the setting.
If you’re a writer, you’ve done your job if a reader comes away with a feeling of satisfaction. If you’re a writer of historical mysteries, as I am, you’ve done your job if the reader also learns a little something in addition to enjoying the mystery.
If you’re a reader, you’ve done your job if you’ve simply paid attention to the story. You’ve very likely used your imagination without even realizing it. This is left- and right-brain exercise at its best.
It turned out to be a good thing for me to take that sneaker quiz because it led me down the rabbit hole of research into how people use different parts of their brains. It got me thinking of the ways in which I use my own brain.
If you’re reading this post, you probably love mysteries. You use your whole brain when you read. So where do you see yourself on the left-brain/right-brain spectrum? What do you do in addition to reading? Are you a stock analyst? Are you a painter? Does (or did) your day job exercise a different part of the brain than the part you use when you read? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks to the Ladies of Mystery for hosting me here today. It’s been a fun post to write and I hope it got you thinking.
The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah.
Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.
Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are saying about her mother’s disappearance.
When the time comes for Sarah to face her father’s secrets and figure out why her mother never came home that December day in 1712, what she learns will shock her tiny community on the New Jersey cape and leave her fighting for her life.
BARNES & NOBLE NOOK: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cape-menace-amy-m-reade/1136964165
Amy M. Reade is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of cozy, historical, and Gothic mysteries.
A former practicing attorney, Amy discovered a passion for fiction writing and has never looked back. She has so far penned three standalone Gothic mysteries, the Malice series of Gothic novels, the Juniper Junction Holiday Cozy Mystery series, the Libraries of the World Mystery Series, and the Cape May Historical Mystery Collection. In addition to writing, she loves to read, cook and travel. Amy lives in New Jersey and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
You can find out more on her website at www.amymreade.com.