Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Sarah Hilary | Five Tips for Suspense
Author Guest / June 30, 2014

Alfred Hitchcock drew a useful distinction between shock and suspense. Shock, he said, would be a bomb going off without warning at the family breakfast table. But if you show your audience the bomb in advance, and if you intercut that with images of the oblivious family breakfasting, if you juxtapose the normality with the horror in store – then you have suspense. I try to keep this rule in mind when I’m writing. Here are five tips for how I created suspense in SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN.   #1 Be visceral This is about engaging the reader senses – taste, touch, sound, smell – but it’s also about pulling the reader headlong into the story, getting under their skin, making their pulse race. In SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN, I put Marnie Rome’s sidekick into a deadly situation towards the end of the book. Noah Jake is in danger, in pain, afraid for his life. I kept the chapters short. I ditched conventional sentence structure. Got right inside his head. We’re as scared as he is that he might die, and not a nice death. #2 Keep it real Having horrors in store for your characters is all well and good, but…

Victoria Hamilton | Quirky Characters in the Cozy Mystery
Author Guest / June 30, 2014

One of my favorite mystery series of all time is Joan Hess’s Maggody series. She is the master of creating weird, wild, and yet lovable characters. Anyone who has taken the trip to Maggody, Arkansas and lived a while among the Buchanons knows exactly what I mean. I’ve read all the titles, and some more than once. So when I set out to create the folks of Autumn Vale, New York, for the Merry Muffin Mystery series, it was with an eye to creating a unique world of people who had lived in an insulated environment for so long they had kind of a short hand in dealing with each other. Merry Wynter, I figured, would arrive like a visitor to a foreign country; she doesn’t speak the language and she isn’t sure how to deal with the natives. I carefully say it was with an eye to creating it, because I found in writing the books that my own style, so thoroughly grounded in reality, didn’t lend itself to the wonderfully weird characterizations that Hess manages. It could easily have become a case of an author shooting for the stars and managing only to launch a few bottle rockets….