Sometimes when other mystery writers are talking trade, I’m a little “at sea”. Now I read a lot and watch a lot of movies, but apparently my informal education hasn’t been on the same track as others.
So I asked my friends (many are writers and editors) for a list of “must read” writers and books.
These are books recommended by my friends.
1.Megan Abbott – Dare Me
2. Eric Ambler – A Coffin for Dimitrios
3. Lilian Jackson Braun
4. James Lee Burke
5. Raymond Chandler
6. Agatha Christie – All of her books including:
And Then There Were None
7. James Church – Inspector O Novels including:
A Corpse in the Koryo
8. Harlan Coben
9. Reed Farrell Coleman – Moe Prager mysteries including:
The James Deans
10. Wilkie Collins – The Moonstone
11. Michael Connelly – “Harry Bosch” mysteries
12. Robert Crais
11. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – All Sherlock Holmes mysteries
12. James Ellroy – L.A. Quartet
L. A. Confidential
13. Federick Forsyth – Day of the Jackal
14. Dick Francis
15. Robert Goldsborough – Nero Wolfe books
16.Graham Greene – Third Man
Our Man in Havana
17. Dashiel Hammett
18. Richard Harris – Silence of the Lambs
19. Carl Hiaasen
20. George V. Higgins – Friends of Eddie Coyle
21. Patricia Highsmith – Ripley mysteries
22. Reginald Hill – Diologues of the Dead
23. Tony Hillerman -Coyote Waits
24. P.D. James
25. Craig Johnson
26. Laurie King
27. Natsuo Kirino – Out
28. Robert Parker -Looking for Rachel Wallace
29.. Ridley Pearson
30. Margaret Maron
31. Ross MacDonald
32. John D. MacDonald
33. Mickey Spillane
34. Robert Parker
35. Donna Tartt – The Secret History
36. Rex Stout
37. Dana Stabenow
38. T. Jefferson Parker
39. Charles McCarry
40. Edgar Allan Poe – Dupin Mystery series
41. Stieg Larsson – The Girl series
42. Elmore Leonard – Rum Punch
Out of Sight
43. John le Carre- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
44. Pierre le Maitre – Alex
45. John Mortimer – Rumpole of the Bailey series
46. Richard Stark Parker (who is also Westlake)
47. Ian Rankin
48. Dorothy Sayers – All of her books including:
49. Martin Cruz Smith – Gorky Park
50. Tom Rob Smith – Child 44
51. Jim Thompson – Killer Inside Me
52. Mary Willis Walker – Under the Beetle’s Cellar
53. Minette Walters
54. Donald Westlake – God Save the Mark
55. Stuart Woods
Do you agree with their choices? Anything crucial we left off the list?
Posted in Uncategorized and tagged Must reads, Mystery Writers by VP with 3 comments.
Scott Montgomery addressing the crowd
A spine-tingler of a gift!
Reavis and Janice
More chairs? No problem
I made Reavis laugh!
Scott Montgomery speaking with Karen
Reavis entertaining us.
Karen giving great advice.
Gale raffling off another item.
I'm picking up character descriptions from the audience.
Creating great characters
Reavis is having too much fun.
This will be a short article, but I wanted to say a little something about our first writers’ workshop for Austin Mystery Writers.
First of all, I’d like to thank Book People and Mystery People for allowing us to use their space. And huge thanks to the writers Reavis Z. Wortham, Karen MacInerney, and Janice Hamrick for giving of their time to share their knowledge with us.
Lessons I learned:
1. Mysteries come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, but good writing is good writing.
2. Take out as many of the dialogue tags as you can. (he said, she said, he yelled, etc.) Try to change your description and action so you don’t have to use them. Reavis called it “trimming the fat”. Actually, I think he said, “It’s trimming the fat, y’all. You don’t need it.”
3. Your story will drive the pace of your writing. Slower action will probably have longer chapters, faster action will have shorter chapters. The shorter chapters will make it move quickly.
4. It’s good to have a little humor to break up the heaviness of the drama. But don’t force the humor, some people just aren’t funny. (Surely I don’t have that problem. Right?)
5. Most writers probably write to work out something from their past. (I can see that.)
6. Karen said, “Read, read, read your genre!” You should know what is expected of your writing. A cozy mystery will have a different form and elements from a hard boiled mystery.
7. Your MC (Main Character) has to have a reason for solving the mystery. They can’t just “be there”. They have to have a stake in the outcome. (I knew this, but for some reason I’ve had trouble applying this to my current WIP, until Saturday. I had an “aha!” moment and fixed the problem.)
8. Janice talked about creating great characters. She had the audience do a simple, yet effective, writing exercise. She asked us to write down a description of a dotty old woman. The descriptions varied widely. She gave a scenario and told us to write the woman’s reaction. Boy! Even more variety than the first descriptions! She said that it goes to show that no two people write exactly the same way.
9. The one thing Janice said that really stuck with me was about adding depth to a character. You can start with a stereotype, but add an unexpected twist to the character. For some reason that really stuck with me. So many of my favorite characters are flawed heroes. It works.
10. Janice also recommended you Google a character’s name before using it. Make sure you don’t accidentally give your hero the name of a famous killer.
There was so much more to the lectures, but these were the things that struck a chord with me. We had such a good time laughing and learning and giving away prizes! We are already talking of doing another on in the Spring.
P.S. I think my cookies helped make it fun too. 😉
Posted in Uncategorized and tagged Austin Mystery Writers, Book People, Janice Hamrick, Karen MacInerney, Mystery Writers, Reavis Z. Wortham by VP with 6 comments.