I’m often asked where the ideas come from for my plots. With my historical fiction, the answer is easy. I pick something of interest to me from the past, research, and write about it. With mysteries, it is not quite so cut and dried. Of course, the topic does have to interest me, but what is the plot going to be?
More often than not, it is stories in the news that spark my interest, giving me the seed of a notion, and then I plant that idea and nourish it. Sometimes it springs forth quickly like a sunflower, and other times it is more like the fruition of the pawpaw tree.
My first mystery, Mainely Power, was spawned in a bar having a beer while sitting next to a clam digger. In the course of the conversation, the man mentioned that he often harvested the flats outside of Maine Yankee, and that there was little exterior security to the plant, and that he could walk right up to the front door. Spark went my imagination. It took some time to burn but eventually found its way to the pages. When I told this story during an interview on Maine Calling, the former security supervisor of Maine Yankee called in to say that this was untrue, and that the facility was well secured. I’ve had many people contact me since with stories that contradict her. It is possible that she was just upset because she read the book and discovered that I killed the head of security on page four.
My fourth Clay Wolfe/Port Essex mystery, Cosmic Trap, coming out in December, kindled with a news spot on UAPs. Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Not nearly as snappy as UFO. But inside my mind the UAP blossomed like the night sky. It is quite clear that sightings of these aerial phenomena are real, as they’ve been caught on video by many pilots, but what are they? Aliens? Russians? Chinese? Or somebody or something else? That, for me, is the origination of a mystery plot.
In April of 2023, I will be birthing a new mystery series. I’ve decided to combine my love of histories and mysteries into a historical PI character named 8 Ballo who lives in 1923 Brooklyn. Velma Gone Awry started out as simple as a missing person and grew from there, much of the plot being the characters and the setting as much as the case, as legendary figures and events fill the pages.
Nuclear power plants, ice storm vandals, blackmailed senators, heroin smuggled through lobster traps, cults in Maine, pandemic angst, human genome editing, UAPs, wiccans and wendigos, and buried treasure have all made the hurdle from a notion to the written page in the course of my writing life, but there are many more tidbits germinating in the dark recesses of my mind
Right now, the operation of that particular gadget called the creative process is whirring into life as I prepare to write book two of the Brooklyn 8 Ballo historic PI series. A hit and run ruled accidental death. Or was sit? The Eugenics Movement. Spark. Time to build the fire.