“Read a lot. Write a lot. Delete a lot.”
~ Hannah Richell
Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode on the Writing Train. Well today is very special because it’s the day we’re kicking off our new series! Check it out.
What is forensic lenses? First, it’s another reason for me to interview people. Second, it’s an interview with a particular view in mind (No pun intended) hence the name forensic lenses. But why forensic lenses? The word forensic means: pertaining to, connected with, or used in courts of law or public discussion and debate. So far I’ve been interviewing so many wonderful writers both published and unpublished. Writers from all backgrounds, levels and walks of life. Now, I’d like to interview them as…wait for it…..READERS. Yes you read that correctly. Readers.
A lens is defined in part, as a substance that changes the convergence of light rays, as for magnification, or in correcting defects of vision. In other words, they help you see things you wouldn’t normally see. They make things bigger, or magnified, that wouldn’t normally stick out. But the most simplistic definition is that they help you see. Everyone’s eyes are different, and everyone’s lenses are different in how they affect eyesight. We were all born with two embedded scanners in our heads, but we still see things in our own particular way. So when you’re reading the next bestseller what do you see? What do I see? What resonates you to tears may bore me to death, and vice versa.
Personally I LOVE eyes for some reason. Research estimates that eighty to eighty five percent of our perception, learning, cognition and activities are mediated through vision (Vision Is Our Dominant Sense). Before there were writing conferences, retreats, blogs, and how-to-do-everything, there were just books. Good old fashioned tangible books. How did the great writers before our time learn the craft so well? BREAKING NEWS: They read a lot. Sounds simple eh?
Forensics naturally solves crimes by scientifically providing evidence to be used in a court of law. To prove one’s guilt, or perhaps their innocence. In other words help solve crimes and catch criminals. As a reader do you have any pet peeves? Have you ever read something that made you throw the book across the room? Or made you close it, never wanting to open it again? Most of the time it’s not that dramatic, but it could be something small and equally frustrating. These are what I consider crimes so to speak. Things that violate your emotional resonance. That’s on the negative side. The positives are things you enjoy, observe, or witness that prove to be worth your time. It’s the evidence of a great read, and possibly a re-read!
Reading is dreaming with your eyes open
Let’s get started with the first guest of the series!
Elizabeth S. Craig
Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries and Memphis Barbeque mysteries. She also has one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 best websites for writers. Feel free to visit her over at: elizabethspanncraig.com. Receive a free ebook, updates, recipes by signing up for her newsletter click here.
To see more books by Elizabeth click here.
*How did you begin reading habits as a child? Did someone in your family read to you?
My father was an English teacher and my grandmother was a retired English teacher. Reading was as much a part of my day as eating and sleeping. Everyone in my family read to me and continued reading to me, even when I was able to read for myself. Sometimes the settings of the books we read together, the Oz complete series, for example, were almost more real to me than my own home.
YES I love this. It always begins with reading. That’s great you had English teachers in your family AND experience collective reading habits from family members. Amazing.
*Who was your childhood favorite? Scooby-Doo, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys? Why?
Nancy Drew was an early-elementary school favorite because she seemed so calm, collected, mature and brave as she unraveled genuinely creepy mysteries. By late elementary, I’d shifted my loyalties to Trixie a bit. That’s probably because Trixie was closer to my age and actually misbehaved in the stories…she seemed a little more realistic. The interesting thing about my childhood favorites; Nancy, Trixie, and Scooby; is that they all embody the ‘friends as sidekicks’ approach to sleuthing. That had a tremendous influence on me as a writer…no solo sleuths or lone wolf detectives for me.
Yeah, I think the lone wolf characters are kind of boring honestly. Unless something really sticks out.
“Reading… a vacation for the mind….” ~Dave Barry
*In your bio, you state “I started in on the Agatha Christies. Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot made me a lifelong mystery fan.” What was it at this stage of reading that made you a LIFELONG mystery fan? Something had a major impact here.
Agatha Christie and the other masters of the genre turn mystery reading into an interactive experience. Their mysteries grab the reader and drag him in. A good mystery, such as the ones Christie wrote, make the reader feel as if he or she is in the sleuth’s skin, solving the mystery as they go. It’s this armchair detection, the ability to feel the thrill of edging closer to a dangerous killer, all from the comfort and safety of one’s home. To me, there’s nothing else like it—it’s the ultimate escape.
Wow! I had an escape just by reading your statement! Excellent.
*Currently, who are your top 5 mystery writers and why?
For cozies, my top pick is M.C. Beaton. Her ability to write quirky characters and an engrossing setting is second to none. For police procedurals I like Elizabeth George, Deborah Crombie, and Louise Penney—their sympathetic portrayals of their detectives and how they balance their personal lives and professional lives makes their books both realistic and a joy to read. For a darker story, I go to Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø…the grittiness of his stories sometimes just hits the spot, as a reader.
Elizabeth George is absolutely amazing. Can’t wait to read more of her books.
*Since you’re an experienced reader in the mystery genre, is it easy to figure out whodunit? Or does it make it harder to enjoy a good mystery book?
Unfortunately, yes, I usually figure it out. I absolutely love it when I’m wrong. I love twists, I love being surprised. But if the writer has done a good job wrapping up all the loose ends of a mystery and circled around to the beginning of the book from the conclusion, I’m still satisfied as a reader, even when I’ve pegged the killer.
Man, just was thinking how hard it must be to fool an experienced mystery reader.
*As a reader, what are your biggest pet peeves? (Writer Crimes)
I’m really not keen on plot devices and seeing writers manipulate plot and make characters behave out of character just out of convenience. This kind of Deus ex machina, especially at the end of a book, feels contrived and can contribute to a flat ending.
This is a very interesting viewpoint. We must be the ever skillful writer to avoid things like these.
*After all these years of reading, what makes a good mystery? Or a great one?
I think greatness ultimately is attained through the sleuth’s personality. We don’t have to like the sleuth, but we have to relate to or understand him or her. A good mystery will have an interesting or appealing sleuth and a cast of supporting recurring characters that either act as a sleuth’s foil or play up his or her strengths.
I love this. It comes down to character and more specifically his personality. Understanding him or her makes all the difference. Sweet!
Thanks so much for joining us Elizabeth! Please come again.
A book is a gift you can open again and again.
It’s one of the most marvelous adventures
that anyone can have
READING IS FUEL
FOR THE IMAGINATION
~ Benjamin Thomas
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