I was listening to a teaser soundbite on NPR this morning, and the wonderful New Orleans mystery author Julie Smith spoke about the comment she often hears from readers who learn she resides in the city where her novels are based. They tell her the high crime rate in New Orleans must provide plenty of material for her novels. She said that they don't understand what mysteries are really about. It's not the crime, it's the secrets. I turned off my clock radio and said to the murky air of pre-dawn, well, late dawn, in my bedroom:
Ain't it the truth.
How many secrets do we have in a mystery? There's obviously the secrets kept or attempted to be kept by the antagonist, crook, criminal, villains, or miscellaneous dastardly deed do-ers. And in my opinion, if a writer is worth her salt, there are the secrets kept by the protagonist, amateur or professional sleuth or all around good guy. And if a writer is really, really good-- I mean really good: everybody's got a secret. And those secrets get reeled out and revealed s-l-o-w-l-y, maybe over the arc of a whole series. For some fodder for the secret mill, try the link below or buy Frank Warren's books from his PostSecret Project--a blog that collected thousands of anonymous postcards over a period of years from people confessing their secrets from the mundane to the deeply disturbing. http://postsecret.blogspot.com/ What's your secret? What are your characters' secrets? How do they intersect?