Monday, April 23, 2012


What's your starting point?

How many of you start writing a book with a theme in mind? How about a social issue you want to address? Just what is your starting point?

I thought I started with the characters. I'd think of a person, male or female, age, occupation and give him or her a name. Then I'd try on a plot for size. Did this character fit into an art scam which ended up with murder or was this person more the librarian with a deep-rooted crime fighting persona who beat the bushes when a favourite patron is found dead in the stacks?

Weave around those facts some supporting characters within a setting; the dialogue would then emerge and voila, a story is born.

I didn't think I wrote with a theme in mind. Surprise, self. You do! The enlightenment came to me from a question Vicki Delany asked when working on the Bloody Words conference programme for this year. The answer had been there all along, I'd just never had the time or taken the time, to stop and think about it.

My series is about community. Not the physical setting with city boundaries or county lines. It's the community of people who come together, in this case to form a book club, and how relationships then develop and what comes out of that. In this case, six people who besides discussing books, get into some serious sleuthing.

This community is supportive and therefore develops into some deep friendships. Much like some of the communities I belong to; the various communities you belong to, also. And hopefully, that's a theme that resonates with readers and will keep them reading through the next two books in the series.

Of course, it helps to have a puzzle to unravel, since this is about mystery...and that body or two adds the enticing element.

So, back to my original you have a theme when writing? Are you aware of it when you start? Or is it something that finally dawns on you, when someone asks the question?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

A Killer Read
Berkley Prime Crime, now available
Read & Buried, coming Nov., 2012

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