Monday, July 21, 2008

Welcome to the Conspiracy!

On behalf of the Carolina Conspiracy, welcome to the Carolina Conspiracy Blog, where murder is on our brain. For your viewing pleasure, we have nine mystery authors who will be regularly blogging. Our books span the mystery gamut--cozy, procedural, historical, psychological, hard-boiled--you’ll find it here. What ties us together is our locale…we’re Carolina mystery writers. I’m eager to stretch just a bit: read different writing styles and genres, and discover how others survive and thrive in the writing life.
Mystery Media Musing #1:
Summer is television’s dry spell, but are the economy and the “staycationers” forcing new programming? PBS aired excellent shows on Masterpiece Mystery from June 22 through July 6 for police procedural fans. The Inspector Lewis episodes have been exceptional. I was skeptical at first because I enjoyed reading/watching Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse and don’t like spinoffs as a rule. The episodes are set in Oxford, England and Lewis is paired with (and plays well off of) his younger, better educated partner. The episode “Expiation” had a creepy opening sequence with a child that jumped out of nowhere and seemed to be silently ranting. Her mother jumped and looked terrified, an interesting reaction. The viewers were quickly diverted from this unsettling beginning by the next sequence which portrayed a raucous start-of-the-day any soccer mom would recognize. Well, okay, the family and their friends (picking up children for school carpool) did seem over-the-top happy for early morning, but clearly represented a close knit, loving group. Several scenes later when the mom is shown hanging from the stairwell, I was hooked. Suicide was ruled out and Inspector Lewis was soon investigating murder. The body count on a couple of the episodes rivaled Midsomer Murders (unlikely in the small town of Oxford.) The number of murders does deepen the urgency and quicken the pace so suspend your disbelief and enjoy the police work and the dark, satisfying mysteries. Be sure to TiVo them--PBS loves its reruns--I’m convinced the episodes will make a return appearance. It would be especially nice (are you out there PBS?) if PBS would put episodes on its website for viewers to see in their entirety. In addition to the Lewis series, I’m looking forward to Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley, returning in two new episodes on August 10 and August 17 on Masterpiece Mystery.
Mystery Media Musing 2: Ruth Rendall’s new book, Not in the Flesh, is now waiting for me at the public library after spending some time on my waiting list. Next time I’ll give a rundown on it. I stumbled across Ruth Rendall/Barbara Vine’s The Chimney Sweep’s Boy while browsing the stacks at the Matthews Library. It was fun finding a new mystery series the old-fashioned way: these days I usually research books online via Amazon or book blogs and request them online from the library. I was delighted to find the author has gobs of books out there (where have I been? She’s a bestselling author!) and was first published before I was born. Usually I happen into a series at the very beginning and then have to wait impatiently while the author writes the books.
Mystery Media Musing 3: Cool mystery-lover website: . I particularly like their “Read Alikes” section where you can match your mystery reading interests (Mystery Classics, P.I., Female Leads, etc.) with authors who write those genres. Of course, has tons of info, but it’s a little too much for me and I get lost on the site, despite their clear design and organization.
Off the cuff: /Writing Randoms:
One thing I’ve found about being a writer is that you have to grab your moments: especially if you’re a mom writing during the summer. Something I’ve discovered this week: It is possible to write with Spongebob Squarepants going on in the background. It’s occasionally even possible to write something GOOD with Spongebob in the background. Maybe not while Spongebob’s friend, Patrick, is talking because that guy just hemorrhages IQ (not that I’m watching the show or anything.) Okay, maybe I did watch a few minutes of Spongebob. You know mysteries are pervasion when they even crop up on kids’ shows: Spongebob did a take-off on Poe’s Tell Tale Heart. (And one for Rocky Horror Picture Show, too, but that’s in a genre all its own.) I love it when cartoons slip in some references to hook the grownups.
My ‘to do’ list this week: Read Rendall’s book, write a chapter on the new chick-lit mystery, and rewrite the picture book copy from a different character perspective. Rent Blockbuster movies to entertain the kids while executing this plan?
Elizabeth Craig, A Dyeing Shame: Death at the Beauty Box

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