On a Garden Swing on the Deck, Karleen Bradford reads This Body of Death

Karleen Bradford, author of A Desperate Road to Freedom, the Underground Railroad Diary of Julia May Jackson, Scholastic Canada is my guest reader/blogger today. I’ll have to read that one. The Dear Canada books come with

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their own ribbon bookmark which is wonderful because no matter how many bookmarks I own, I never have one at the right time. My favourite story of Karleen’s’ is The Other Elizabeth which I’m desperately waiting to get on my ereader sometime this summer. Currently, Karleen is writing another Dear Canada. Well, ahem, ahem, currently she is reading.

I’ve been on vacation, so have been indulging in my favourite holiday reading: mysteries. The one I’ve just finished is This Body of Death, by Elizabeth George. It’s a long book—873 pages—and densely plotted. The kind of book you can only really read when on vacation because there’s no way you can put it down to do mundane things like make dinner or do the laundry. When I finished it, I sat and thought for a long time about how Elizabeth George developed that dense and complex plot. How she kept the story moving and the reader’s interest high. At the end of the book there was a blurb for a non-fiction book of hers, Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life. I decided to order it and find out how she did it. That’s what I’m reading now and I’m finding it interesting and instructive. There’s always something new to learn about the art and craft of writing, there are always problems that we all share.
One thing that she brought out is how she works on the development of her characters before she begins to work on plot, then the characters show her the plot. Not the way I would have thought a mystery writer would work, but very intriguing. I have had the germ of an idea for a mystery running around in my head for a long time, but not ever having written one, I was at a loss as to how to tackle it. I think I will follow her advice and just do some work on the characters—their problems, their motivations, their fears—and see if they can show me the way into my story.

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