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Writers try to solve the mystery of their craft

The Baltimore Sun

To mark the Bouchercon mystery writers conference - which ends here today with the Anthony Awards ceremony - visiting authors have been writing guest posts on the Read Street blog all week. They discussed the challenges of creating realistic characters and plots, and the craft - or art - of writing. Our sincere thanks to the many authors who contributed. Some highlights and insights:

"We were astonished how this supposedly second-string character took over and elbowed himself into the number one position. We were obviously naive, because we had thought that writers controlled their characters rather than the other way around." - Stanley Trollip, half of the writing team Michael Stanley

"Your powers of observation are always tested. When people argue around a dinner table, for example, do they touch? Do they shout? Do they guard their language, or pour it on? Do women join in, or drift to the margins?" - Dan Fesperman on writing about foreign locales

"A good mystery novel makes you stop and think, how will the hero solve this puzzle? A good horror novel makes you stop and think, should I check the locks?" - Mario Acevedo on combining horror and mystery

"Hard-boiled detectives are always outsiders, but in the case of black detectives it's easy to understand why. White clients may expect them to have a hidden, anti-white agenda. Other African-Americans, distrustful of authority figures in general, sometimes have a special resentment of black men who question them or try to associate them with crimes." - Austin Camacho on race

"Death is something that has increasingly become hidden in our culture, been tucked away behind the curtain. It remains, not to be too awesomely cheesy or literal, the ultimate mystery." - Jonathan Hays

"And unlike the majority of average citizens, I know what it's like to pull a gun on someone, feel my heart pounding, wondering if I'm going to have to kill this person I'm facing." - Robin Burcell, who has worked in law enforcement

"Once I traveled relentlessly; now, I rarely leave the house. ... Once I stayed awake at night plotting growth strategies. Now, I'm still awake, just plotting." - Andrew Gross, former sportswear executive

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