It’s been awhile since I posted regular Muse Wednesdays. I missed them. I love learning what set my fellow authors on the road to writing. But social media is a time suck and so I put the Muse blogs aside for only special occasions and the odd one-off author who actually seeks me out to do one.
So why bring them back now? What’s special about the next four Wednesdays in September?
Bouchercon 2015 will be held in Raleigh, NC, from October 7-11th.
And once again, I have the distinct honor of being a Moderator for a panel entitled, Maintaining Pacing in Mystery.
The panel consists of published authors Annette Dashofy, Hilary Davidson, Laura Benedict, and Rebecca Drake. Our panel is scheduled for Saturday, October 10th at 1 pm. If you’re attending, we’d love to see you there. If you aren’t, there is still time to register for this conference which is the largest mystery convention in the world. See the full scheduled of events and panels, HERE.
My four panelists are all at the top of their game in the mystery/suspense/thriller field, so I thought it would be fun to ask them who or what their writing Muse(s) are — and at the same time get some promo and advance excitement for our fabulous panel. Yes, I am devious that way. 😉
The Muse Blog schedule is as follows:
September 9th –Annette Dashofy
September 16th –Hilary Davidson
September 23rd–Laura Benedict
September 30th – Rebecca Drake
I’ve already seen Annette’s blog and I love her choice. And, no, I’m not telling, you have to come back next week and see who she picked.
And to remind you what a Muse Blog is all about, I am re-blogging my original Muse Blog which addressed why I write what I write:
MARY STEWART’S THE MOON-SPINNERS
In the summer of 1964, I picked up The Moon Spinners. From the opening line, Mary Stewart had this twelve-year-old girl hooked: “It was the egret, flying out of the lemon grove, that started it.” Such a simple line filled with questions. Who is the narrator? Where was the narrator that she chanced to see an egret fly from a lemon grove? And what exactly had started?
From that little line, I traveled with Nikky Ferris, a young British woman, on a journey of discovery and danger. When Nikky takes that first step off the beaten path to Agios Georgios, she didn’t know it yet, but she has changed her life forever. As she makes her way into the rugged mountains lining the Greek coastline, I tasted the dust Nikky’s shoes cast into the air. I smelled the lemon flowers as she wends her way through the grove. I shivered at the coolness of the mountain water when Nikki pauses to rinse her hot, dusty hands. I shared her sense of isolation and the building anticipation that something was going to happen. When Lambos drops into her path, knife in hand, my heart rate jumped right along with Nikky’s. What had started out to be a pleasant little getaway with her aunt in a sleepy little Greek seaside resort, has now become a life and death matter as Nikky’s future becomes inextricably intertwined with Mark and Colin Langley’s lives – – lives that had been changed forever when the brothers stumbled across murder in the wilds of Greece. And I was with her every step of the way.
What amazes me, now that I also write novels, is that the set up in The Moon-Spinners is done so effortlessly and in less than two chapters. There are no wasted words or lines in a Mary Stewart book. Just as the fabled Moon Spinners spin the moon, Ms. Stewart spins her story, effortlessly and inexorably pulling in her reader.
So what is it about Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels that has captured several generations of readers and influenced a generation of authors?
For me, other than the amazing settings and sense of place, it is her ability to create an atmosphere that holds you breathlessly in its thrall from her novels’ first words until the last. Her usage of words rivals a poet’s. No doubt about it: Mary Stewart is a master wordsmith. Added to her perfect selection of words is a superb sense of pacing. Each word, each line of text builds upon its predecessor, building tension and providing relief, only to escalate again until the final climactic scene. Her plots are a perfect balance of description, suspense, and romance and as seamless as a Mobius strip. This is why myself and a whole generation of authors have attempted to emulate Mary Stewart’s style.
In my romantic suspense novels, I sweat every word, every line, striving to recreate the suspense-romance symmetry, the perfect pacing of a Mary Stewart novel. My villains are driven to commit evil. The heroes are strong; the heroines, just as strong or stronger. Fate throws them together, changing their lives for better – – or worse, as the case may be. In my books, as in Stewart’s, good always triumphs over evil, but sometimes the line between the two is a bit smudged. From lean first lines to the end, I strive to take my readers on just as breathless a ride as Mary Stewart always gave me. Do I do this as gracefully and seamlessly as she did? I only hope so. Time will tell.
Copyright, Monette Michaels, 2006. This essay is not to be reprinted without the express permission of the author. Worldwide print anthology rights are held by Crum Creek Press.