Please welcome author Madeleine Mysko and her new release: Stone Harbor Bound
Confessions of Wannabe Mystery Writer
Unlike many of Auntie M’s guests and readers, I’m neither a writer of mystery novels nor a lifelong reader of them. I guess you could call me a wannabe—a “literary” novelist who occasionally hangs out in the mystery genre, hoping to pick up a few tricks of the trade from the respected practitioners.
Among writer friends, I make a joke of my addiction to re-runs of Masterpiece Mystery—Inspectors Morse, Lewis, and Lynley . . . Miss Marple, Wallander—but then, turning serious, I muse that watching mysteries can be a good thing for those of us interested in plot development. I expect my friends to believe what I’ve made myself believe—that an afternoon of watching murder mysteries (when I ought to be writing) isn’t really procrastinating, not as long as I’m “studying” in what order the writer makes things happen on the screen.
My brother (not a writer but an audiologist) has long been an avid reader of mystery novels. For years now, he’s been saying he and I should collaborate—that he could come up with the story line, drawing from his familiarity with detectives and police procedurals and all sorts of formulae for whodunits. And of course I would do the writing. There’s something wistfully half-serious about my brother’s proposal. He really loves mystery novels. He really loves me. Maybe he thinks I could actually deliver on my half of the bargain.
Once, out of the blue and without my brother’s help, I came up with an idea for a mystery novel. I was very pleased with myself. I had what seemed the necessary ingredients: setting (contemporary Baltimore), sleuth (somewhat jaded nurse about my age), and murder (or what appears to be murder to the nurse-sleuth, but to no one else.) I wrote the first chapter of my first mystery novel in a glow of self-satisfaction. Then right after I typed “Chapter Two” I was in trouble.
Determined to follow through, I ordered several manuals with bold, no-nonsense titles like “How to Write a Mystery Novel.” I devoured these manuals with pleasure, as though they were novels themselves, the heroine a person just like me who crafts a gem and finds both agent and publisher to adore her. This was ten years ago. I still have Chapter One of my first mystery novel on my computer. As for the how-to books, I think they may have left the house last fall, in a box headed for the Hospital Auxiliary Sale.
I’ve recently launched my second novel, Stone Harbor Bound (Bridle Path Press). Already, much to my surprise, I’m happily working away at a third. I’ve got the setting (contemporary Baltimore) and the main character (a somewhat jaded nurse about my age). I’ve even raided Chapter One of my first mystery novel for some of those details that delighted me the first time around.
But the main character of my third novel isn’t actually a sleuth. Turns out she’s just a wannabe, like me.
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Madeleine Mysko’s poetry, fiction, and essays have been published widely in journals that include Smartish Pace, The Hudson Review, Shenandoah, Little Patuxent Review, and Bellevue Literary Review. She is the author of two novels, Bringing Vincent Home and Stone Harbor Bound. A graduate of The Writing Seminars of The Johns Hopkins University, she has taught creative writing in the Baltimore area for years, and presently serves as contributing editor at American Journal of Nursing.
Stone Harbor Bound is available from Bridle Path Press: http://www.bridlepress.com
and from Amazon.com