Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Book Review: How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries

From my experience of 'how to write' books I have found the ones that best fit the genre I'm working in fall in to two categories: mystery and historical.

That is why I was so happy when I came across How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries by Kathy Lynn Emerson. This is the only book I have seen that looks at historical crime/mystery. If there are any others out there do let me know.

Kathy Lynn Emerson is a writer of historical mysteries including two series, as well as having written in a number of other genres. So she knows what she is talking about.

I have read this book all the way through and now as I plan and research my novel I find myself returning to it more often than some other books.

There is some very good advice in it, and it seems to concentrate more on the fiction side of things. The fact that you can make up a place if you want to, or invent your 'sleuth'. Like other books on historical fiction this has sections on anachronisms and research. However in this book there are also sections on marketing and selling your novel [not necessarily in that order].

Kathy also includes a case study of one of her own books, where she explains how the idea came about, and her research, writing and subsequent revisions. There is also a section on writing historical mystery short stories.

There is a brief section on female sleuths. As I have decided that my main female character will become a sleuth this section encouraged me to think long and hard about who she was and what her life was like. Women could not always be police officers, and the further back in time you go the more women seem to be tied to their husband and why should my character be gallivanting around solving mysteries?

Well I'm not going to divulge that information here but without this book I wouldn't have considered the what, the why or the how come.

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