It is our pleasure to have Earl Staggs back to talk about the making of his novel MEMORY OF A MURDER which earned a long list of Five Star reviews online at Amazon and B&N. A two time Derringer Award winning author, he has had many of his short stories published in magazines and anthologies. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine and as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. His column “Write Tight” appears in the online magazine Apollo’s Lyre. He is also a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery. He hosts workshops for writers online and is a frequent speaker at conferences and writers groups. Visit his Website: http://earlwstaggs.wordpress.com and friend him on facebook.com/Earl Staggs. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org~~~
THE STORY BEHIND THE NOVELI find it interesting how authors come to write a particular novel or story. With that in mind, this is how a short story of mine eventually led me to write my first mystery novel, MEMORY OF A MURDER.
“By the end of this class, each one of you will have written a short mystery story.”
The instructor made that announcement the first night.
When I signed up for a class at the community college called “Writing Mystery,” I thought someone was going to teach me how, not make me do it right away. Okay, I reasoned, she’s a professor at the college, so if she says we can do it, I suppose we can.
I had no idea where to start, but not knowing how had never stopped me from doing anything before.
We had to come up with a protagonist, of course. I decided to write about a former FBI agent who is now a private investigator. That would give him the training and expertise to pursue the bad guys. I named him Adam Kingston. He would also have some psychic ability. I’d always been interested in psychic phenomena and loved reading about real-life psychics using their gift to help law enforcement agencies solve crimes. These were not the storefront psychics who wear flowing robes and put on a bizarre show. They were also not the kind who will tell you everything you want to hear over the telephone for three dollars a minute. They were ordinary people who lived ordinary lives when not using their special gift.
That’s when I learned how little I knew about writing a book.
For the next couple years, I read a lot of books telling how to write books and pushed ahead on my own book one slow and agonizing chapter at a time. Eventually, after what seemed like a lifetime in rewrite hell, my novel was finished.
Another two years dragged by before MEMORY OF A MURDER was actually published, and I’m happy to say it received a long list of Five Star reviews.
I was honored to receive a blurb from legendary crime writer Warren Murphy. Murphy wrote or co-wrote more than 200 books, most notably The Destroyer (Remo Williams) series and screenplays, including Lethal Weapon 2 and The Eiger Sanction. His awards include the Edgar and Shamus (both twice). He said, "Memory of a Murder by Earl Staggs is a stunning book, an absolute wow of a novel. It is beautifully plotted, its characters -- especially Adam Kingston, the retired FBI problem solver -- jump off the page with life and once you're drawn into the author's world, there's no putting this book down. It's hard to believe this is a first novel. One only hopes that out in Hollywood, someone is paying attention because this story belongs on the big screen. Right away. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to more novels about Adam Kingston."
“Adam Kingston! Get your skinny butt out of that bed.”
Her voice cut through his sleep and made him cringe. He pulled his face out of his pillow, forced one eye open, and turned his head far enough for a squinting glance around. Yes. He was in his own bedroom.
He opened the other eye and focused on the figure standing at the foot of his bed. Slim, well-dressed, skin the color of cocoa, arms folded across her chest, dark eyes boring into him. He plunged his face back into his pillow and mumbled, “Dammit, Ellie.”
“What time is it?”
“How much after?”
“A minute or two. Get up.”
“I can’t get up. I’m dead.”
“You can die later.”
Adam pulled the sheet over his head only to have it quickly jerked off him. He groped for it with no success. He rolled onto his back and checked to see if his skivvies were covering what they were supposed to cover, then looked up at Ellie. “Where’s Phil?”
“Home in bed.”
“How come Phil gets to sleep and I have to get up?”
“Today’s his day off.”
Adam groaned. “It’s my day off, too, dammit. Come on, Ellie—” He interrupted himself with a yawn that shivered all the way down to his toes. “I just got back from a trip and didn’t get to bed till after three. What the hell are you doing in my bedroom at this ungodly hour?”
“Junior’s in trouble, and I need you to do your thing.”
—To be continued—You can read the rest of Chapter One and learn more about MEMORY OF A MURDER on Earl's website at http://earlwstaggs.wordpress.com
If you like mysteries, who is your favorite hero in a book or in a TV mystery/crime series? What traits make him likeable?