Chuck has been a regular guest on the Scribbler and he's always welcome. He writes mysteries and does it well. Today he tells us about what's new in his writing journey.
The Scribbler is happy to have him back as he chats about his new novels. The fifth in the Thief for Hire series- Her Irish Boyfriend - is due out soon and Death Between the Walls is a new series which has been well received with great reviews. See below for the links to his other visits.
Apples…or Guns; What do You Research?
- Chuck Bowie
I write Thrillers. I love writing thrillers; I think it may have something to do with experiencing something that I wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to. Also, if a story arrives in your brain, you want to see where that story goes, right? As an intuitive writer, I will just be sitting around (or sleeping, or driving) when an idea hits me, often quite clearly defined. It may be a character, a scene, or the germ of an idea for a new novel. At my stage in the writing continuum, I peer deeply into this germ of an idea, and if it isn’t about some sort of mystery, I am wont to dismiss it, because, as I mentioned, I like thrillers.
My first novel: Three Wrongs arrived as a rough but fully-formed story. I didn’t intend at the outset to extend it into a series, but again, I wanted to see where Donovan’s story would take him: to redemption, or someplace else. Along the way, From AMACAT through to my upcoming thriller Her Irish Boyfriend, I discovered if I was to tell a complete story, I needed to brush up on objects and events with which I was less familiar. A visit to Trinity College in Dublin illustrates the wonder of research to enhance a story. Guns being another, for instance. Having owned but one pistol in my life—a pellet gun—I needed to do some homework on weaponry. What’s the difference between a Turkish Akdal Ghost and a Glock Gen 16? In fact, what’s the difference between a Glock Gen 14 and a Gen 16? Readers want to know, and experienced, discerning readers will be offended if I get it wrong. So homework has to happen.
Research must be conducted, regardless of the genre, or sub-genre. And if God is in the details (and evidence suggests it is) a writer’s work improves with the quality of their research. I’m going to argue that ameliorating the research will improve the writing, including the character’s behaviour (psychology), the setting (which way is west, when the sun sets), exposition (how does an anechoic chamber actually feel like, to the user), and the tools of the sub-genre (including weaponry).
So here I am, tooling along as a writer of Suspense-Thrillers, when, late one night after a great dinner of red wine, pulled pork tacos with refried black beans, a thought occurred to me. Here comes the part where I self-identify as a word nerd, or Logophile. I awoke with a fairly advanced storyline for a Cozy Mystery. Here comes my fancy word: I am usually comfortable in being visited by the idea for a new story and successfully fighting the notion off. This is called a ‘Velleity’.You may recall I think, or thought, of myself as a Thriller writer. But the idea of a new series wouldn’t go away. Around this time, my life got a bit interrupted, and while I was off-track, I wrote my first Cozy Mystery: Death Between the Walls, and it didn’t hurt a bit.
But there were growing pains to the creation of this new series.
I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to write it as a series. And I wanted the little town to feel almost as if it, too, was a character. This I knew would require research. And it seemed as if I may have to refresh my notion of what constitutes applied research. For instance, I probably would no longer need to Google ‘guns’, but I may in fact need to know which apples ripen in August. (Ginger Golds in Eastern Canada, as it turns out.) And my new protagonist was a woman! And a younger woman, at that. Part of my support system would be my female editor, and part of my research entailed reading cozys (sic). The surprise, for me, was that it would be necessary to return to the small town in which I was raised, and look around. This helped immensely; a refamiliarization, as it were.
Areas of commonality between the Thriller series and the Cozy series were easy to spot: the narrative arc was similar: Intro-Challenge-Quest-Rise-Crisis-Denouement. The development of the protagonist had to be paced, in both cases. The crisis and concurrent tension had to be there. And getting the reader to actually care about the outcomes of the characters was still critical.
I remain fascinated by this need to get the details right. You don’t shoot someone at 5 o’clock, and then have someone see them in a tavern at 7:00 that same night. But more than that, what does a thirty-four year old woman wear to dinner? And can they engage in a chase scene wearing flip-flops? Would the tiny GM pickup she drives have a V-6, or a V-8? Who would know how to disable ABS braking on that truck, if they weren’t a mechanic? If you see a wolf in rural East Coast New Brunswick, is it in fact a wolf, or might it be a coyote? Are their eyes the same colour?
As I said; I love Mysteries, and it remains a mystery as to which kind of mystery I prefer: Suspense-Thriller, or Cozy Mystery. I guess I’ll just have to keep writing both until I decide.
Chuck Bowie writes out of Fredericton, New Brunswick, and so does his pseudonym, Alexa Bowie.
**Note from The Scribbler: I thoroughly enjoyed Death Between the Walls and if you are into cozy mysteries, this one won't let you down.
I've followed the TFH series and am anxious for the release of Her Irish Boyfriend.
A review for Death Between the Walls:
Loved the mystery itself besides the "local flavors" incorporated into the story. Great writing definitely makes for a page turner. Looking forward to Emma's next adventure and meeting more of the interesting characters that surround her.
To view Chucks earlier visits, follow these:
July 7, 2018 February 11, 2017 August 20, 2016
To buy Chuck's books, go HERE.
To discover more about Chuck and his writing, follow these links:
Thank you Chuck for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your stories.