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The Sirens of Suspense

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Connie di Marco, writing as Connie Archer, is the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime:  A Spoonful of Murder, A Broth of Betrayal, A Roux of Revenge, Ladle to the Grave and A Clue in the Stew (April 2016).  You can also find some of her recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. 

Connie’s new series, the Zodiac Mysteries, featuring San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, will be released next year from Midnight Ink. 

 

Find Connie on Facebook and Twitter.

http://www.conniearchermysteries.com

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I’ll be honest here. I’ll be really honest . . . I never wanted to be a writer. There. I’ve said it, inwardly cringing at responses I can only imagine. Do I hear a little voice saying, Who says you are? Well . . . I’ve written some books, I say (defensively).

Growing up, a few teachers and professors would tell me, “You know, you’re not a bad writer. Maybe you should think about a career that involves that skill.” Are they crazy?

I’d smile and ignore their comments. Creative writing classes were a great way to avoid organic chemistry and chordate morphology, neither one of which was I very good at, I might add.

The thought of actually having to write horrified me! So much isolation. Staring at a pad of paper or a blank sheet scrolled in a typewriter or (now) a computer screen and struggling to dredge up ideas. The focus it takes! The concentration needed! So much work! No. Absolutely not. Couldn’t stand the thought of being a writer -- not for profit and certainly not for fun. Why would anyone want to do that with their life? Pure torture! I could think of hundreds of other ways to make myself miserable.

My first love was theater, drama in any form. As a kid, I’d pretend illness, even going so far as to dribble oatmeal into the toilet bowl to convince my mother I was too sick for school. (It only worked a couple of times.) I wanted to stay home and watch soap operas. In those long ago days there were even soaps on the radio. A swell of thrilling organ music and a deep male voice announcing ‘John’s Other Life.’ I was in heaven. I’d listen avidly, follow the characters’ story lines and ride the wave of tension their conflicts generated. Granted, I was very young, just trying to piece reality together, so my knowledge of relationships and real life was pretty sketchy. But how could I resist? These people were so fascinating!

Then when I discovered these weren’t real people, but actors (okay, yes, I do know actors are real people) I was entranced. I wanted to BE one of those people who got to play out emotions not normally seen in my narrow little world. I was hooked. I whined and begged and pleaded and was finally allowed to join a children’s theater troupe at the age of twelve.

Flash forward many years -- under my professional name, I’ve played a divorcée who sues her attorney for his how-to-do-your-own-divorce videotape, a cardiac surgeon who removes a heart from a shooting victim, a sex therapist with mink mittens and many other roles. But one day I found myself on the set of a miniseries, happy to have the work, but disappointed to learn my two scene role had been cut to one, which in turn was cut even further. It was a broiling summer day in Los Angeles and my air-conditioned trailer was so close to an exit of the Hollywood freeway, I feared for my life. So I spent several hours hanging around a parking lot, makeup melting off my face and onto my lap, waiting to be called for my (recently truncated) scene.

I was blessed that day to strike up a conversation with a friendly, well-read assistant director, who was as bored with the project we were working on as I was. We had a good long chat about books and films we had enjoyed. And that’s when it happened. The revelation! The realization that I was creatively frustrated. Actors don’t create the stories, they get to play them and hopefully breathe life into the characters. Writers create the stories! Brain flash!

I’ve always been a great reader and a dyed-in-the-wool mystery buff. I polished off the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes at the age of eleven, read Simenon at fourteen, celebrated when I discovered Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers and that was just the beginning. It was at that moment, by the side of the Hollywood Freeway in a hundred and five degree heat that I determined I would write my mystery.

It took a lot longer than I ever thought it would. And it was a hell of a lot harder than I had anticipated. I must have re-written that first manuscript twenty-five times – at least. After a lot of work and much agony, writing didn’t seem so isolating or torturous. In fact, it felt more like an out of body experience. A true form of creation. A story from nothing more than the characters that rattle around in my head.

I still have great love and respect for the craft of acting, the chance to shapeshift and inhabit the skin of another being, but I’m equally if not more thrilled to have joined the ranks of mystery writers, to connect with so many wonderful, smart, generous people who love the same kind of stories that I do. Now I have to ask myself, why didn’t I start sooner?

It’s been an adventure and an amazing journey and I have to pinch myself every now and then. Am I a writer??? Hey . . . yeah . . . I guess I am.

 

 

 

WHAT'S YOUR FIRST LOVE AND WHERE DID YOU END UP? Tell us or leave a comment for Connie on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the Soup Lover's Mystery of your choice! (US entrants only, please.)

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