I sent the file of my new book, the sixth of my Dorothy Parker Mystery Series, The Murder Club, off to my editor, Shelley and my book designer Eric last week. So right now as I await their review, I feel a little like a pregnant woman approaching her ninth month, except for the water retention and the inability to tie my shoelaces. Actually, I don’t have to be pregnant to have those issues.
So the writing of The Murder Club proved an interesting experience for me. The idea for the theme and the setting presented itself with absolutely no great trial, it just sort of popped into my head one day: 1929, New York City (of course), a group of mystery writers who meet regularly, several murders, and the Skyscraper Wars on the eve of the Wall Street Crash. I had the title first, because I wanted to write about the increasingly popular genre of mystery stories that really took off in the 20s.
I wrote the opening chapter with absolutely no stops. The ideas and the words and the pictures rolled out of my mind and flew onto the page. And then—
Yep, and then.
Days, weeks went by, and I would always find something more pressing to interfere with my work. Truth is I felt like my muses, Mrs. Parker and Mr. Benchley, were beginning to fade from my subconscious mind. Was I just tired of their shenanigans? Or, had they had enough of me? Bored with my company, tired of my bon mots? Were they tired of prodding me on? I don’t know why they would want to abandon me. I was almost always, these past five books, working on my own steam. I didn’t need their gentle push to sit down and write. All I ever had to do was watch the movie of my story in my mind’s eye and type it in. Sometimes, even when I was not so sure what the scene would reveal, I would just sit down and write, and by the time I was finished for the day I would always wind up happily surprised that the team—my recurring real-life characters—had actually shown up and did what they did to advance my story! But now? Were they in hiding or something? Had they taken an excursion to New Jersey and not returned? Why, oh, why, would they cross the Hudson if not for Hollywood?
And then one day about a month ago, after I had defined my fictional characters in my notebook and in my mind, and I had done all the research I could make the excuse of doing, I had a little talk with them. Yeah, I know they are dead and are off doing better things than talking to earthlings, but I still had the talk because it made me feel better and I could lay the blame on them. Basically, my message was “show up and let’s get cracking, kids!” And although some of their replies were not suitable for publication, they agreed to comply with my needs.
The next three-quarters of the book poured out, everything I envisioned clearly, all the pieces of my intricate plot fit precisely without device in just a few weeks. And except for a four day break in order to decide the transition into the book’s denouement, I couldn’t believe how easily they had guided me to the home stretch. I am grateful for their guidance. I have come to truly love Dorothy Parker and my wonderful Mr. Benchley. And I should also confess something about this book—but I won’t, not now, not today.
All I can tell you is that, throughout this series I have often laughed hysterically, felt the joy of camaraderie with these people, but as I wrote the ending paragraphs of The Murder Club, I cried. Yes, I cried. I have often cried when writing, but never while writing this series. When it comes out in May I hope you will like it, and I hope it will not disappoint. Dorothy and the gang did not disappoint me this time around.
Until next time.