So Stacy, please tell us about Tin God :)
I just murdered your wife. Again.
When Sheila and I talked about my stopping by, she said this line immediately hooked her, and she wanted me to talk about how I got hooked on my story, and when a killer line like the one above emerges. So, here goes!
My second mystery/suspense, TIN GOD, actually started out as a piece of flash fiction on my blog over a year ago. It’s changed completely since then, but one person who read the piece contacted me to say she was really impressed. We started to talk, and she agreed to critique my debut novel, INTO THE DARK. She later told me she was praying it didn’t suck. ;)
That person was Catie Rhodes, and she become my critique partner and close friend. I can honestly say that without her, INTO THE DARK wouldn’t have been published. She taught me massive amounts about craft, and even better, she helped plot TIN GOD.
So how did I get hooked on TIN GOD? By having someone like Catie to volley ideas back and forth with. Originally the hero, Nick Samuels, was going to be a cop chasing a serial killer. But the tone wasn’t right, and I didn’t love it. I just couldn’t figure out why or how to fix it.
Catie and I started talking about characters. Who was Nick, really? She pushed me to get to the bottom of his character, and I found out that he was an investigative reporter in Jackson, MS whose wife had been murdered four years ago. The murder was still unsolved, and he was living in a world of guilt and career obsession.
What can I say? I like torturing my characters.
Then, two hours away in the historic town of Roselea (modeled after Natchez, MS), a wealthy housewife is murdered in her antebellum mansion. Nick hears about the murder in the newspaper and is shaken. The woman bears a strong resemblance to his dead wife and even worse, Roselea was his wife’s home town.
At this point, I was really starting to like Nick. So naturally, I knew I had to hit him with the gauntlet. After all, he needed to tie the two murders together if he was going to head down to Roselea to investigate.
So I brainstormed, chatted with Catie, brainstormed some more. And there it was: I just killed your wife. Again.
I honestly can’t remember which one of us came up with the line, but I know I wouldn’t have been able to nail it down without having a critique partner who not only enjoyed my writing but wasn’t afraid to tell me to scratch it and start over.
Then the book really took off. Nick rushes to Roselea and meets the heroine Jaymee (actually, is re-introduced, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why). They realize the murders of both women are tied to Jaymee’s decision to give her child up for adoption–a decision she believes she was coerced into. An adoption she believes was fraudulent.
I won’t spoil TIN GOD any more for you. But I will say that for me, every book is different, and everything gets easier with experience. It took me a while to warm up to TIN GOD, because I had to work hard to get the characters and then the core plot nailed down. On the flip side, I just finished drafting its follow up, SKELETON’S KEY, and I wrote and plotted the book in three months.
Why? Part experience, part worth ethic, and big part falling in love with the plot. When that happens is always a surprise, but for me, it’s one of the best parts about writing.
Thanks so much to Sheila for having me today! If you’re a writer, when do you get hooked on your stories? Readers, what about you? What does it take to make you fall in love with a book?
AN EXCERPT FROM TIN GOD
A grainy, black and white picture on the left of the page caught his eye. The ropelike tension in his forehead exploded across his face and into his neck. Nick sucked in a breath, his gut retracting as though he’d been slugged. Lana. She was on the front page of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger again. He’d been jettisoned back to four years ago when his life shattered.
Except it wasn’t Lana.
A smiling woman with honey-blond hair gazed back at him, eyes blue and piercing. Pouty, pink lips, perfectly shaped nose. She could have been his dead wife’s sister.
Nick snapped his head back and forth, tried to control his breathing. He wiped his clammy hands on his legs.
Wife of former prominent Jackson attorney found dead in couple’s Roselea home.
The room spun.
Lana’s childhood home.
A tourist darling, historic Roselea was the kind of town Northerners pictured when they thought about visiting the old south. It also had one of the lowest murder rates in the state.
Lana had been killed four years ago in Jackson. But this woman–this woman who looked so much like his wife–had been attacked in Roselea. In her home. Strangled. Beaten.
Different encounter. Different circumstances. Different killer.
He looked at the picture again. His fingers flexed, aching to grab the phone, call his brother-in-law, and find out the details. Lana’s murder had been a stranger abduction. No real evidence left behind. Couple of hairs, a few fibers, but nothing that matched anything. Every suspect had been cleared, every lead a dead end.
Nick read the article again. The smiling blond-haired woman had been attacked in her home with no signs of forced entry. Her husband was the prime suspect–Royce Newton, a former prominent Jackson attorney retired from his family law practice. As a social worker, Lana might have known him.
Four years had passed without a lead in Lana’s case, and Nick desperately wanted to make the connection. But he knew the drill, having covered dozens of murders in his career. There was nothing here but hope and a creepy coincidence.
His muscles loosened back into their normal, tired state. Life went on, and he was done chasing ghosts. He hauled himself up straight and took a final gulp of coffee, then dumped it out in the sink. He had to clear his head and get ready for the pitch his editor couldn’t refuse. Not this time.
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About the author
Born in Indiana and raised in Iowa, Stacy Green earned degrees in journalism and sociology from Drake University. After a successful advertising career, Stacy became a proud stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. Now a full-time author, Stacy juggles her time between her demanding characters and supportive family. She loves reading, cooking, and the occasional gardening excursion. Stacy lives in Marion, Iowa with her husband Rob, their daughter Grace, and the family’s three obnoxious but lovable canine children.
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