Today author S. L Smith visits to talk about humor in murder mysteries. I love the title of her book Murder on a Stick. Here’s what she says about her background:
A lifelong resident of Minnesota, I was born in Saint Cloud and attended Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul. The tall iron fence surrounding the campus provided a sense of security for this small-town transplant. Over the next four years, I grew to love the Twin Cities, in part because of the Minnesota Twins and my love for baseball. After graduating, I rented an apartment a few miles from Metropolitan stadium and rarely missed a home game.
During my thirty-two years with the state department of public safety, I worked with law enforcement and fire officials at the state, county and municipal levels. Those interactions assisted me with writing mysteries, but were just the starting point. Without the help of a friend who spent thirty-five years as a cop, I would never have ventured into writing police procedurals. He contributed to my understanding of the perspectives of my two protagonists, Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney Thankfully, this friend is still a resource. He proof reads each manuscript and performs a reality check on the law enforcement aspects.
Publishing family memoirs helped fine tune my research skills, and taught me to contact everyone in the book. I used that tactic on the first Pete Culnane mystery, Blinded by the Sight, and included those who assisted in the acknowledgments. That paid rich rewards as I worked on books two, three, and four in the series. An investigator in the medical examiner’s office provided a foot-in-the-door with the head of homicide at the Saint Paul Police Department, and with a retired investigator (detective).
Hi Lesley. Thanks for this opportunity to speak with your followers.
I agree with my fellow mystery writers who say there is nothing funny about murder. Even so, my characters exchange frequent quips. As is true with many people in their field, St. Paul police investigators Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney rely on humor to make the darker parts of their jobs more bearable.
When first partnered with Pete, Martin’s middle name was solemn. Early on, Pete made it his mission to get Martin to lighten up—for his sake and for Martin’s.
For Martin, survival became easier if he got with the program.
Their humor has nothing to do with dead bodies or murder. They enjoy harassing each other. They find humor in the investigative process, and in the things they say and do. They look for the humor in everyday life, and they succeed in finding it in the strangest places.
Pete and Martin refuse to permit me to put words in their mouths . . . or take them out. If I tried, I’m convinced the results would not be pretty. They would no more put up with my interference in their conversations than if I tried to tell them how to conduct an investigation . . . or their personal lives. . They’ve established very definite boundaries for me.
They made it abundantly clear from the onset that they have their own distinct personalities and methodologies. They must work together, but not with me I can like it or take a hike. If I try to butt in, they’re likely to look for another author. I fear the separation would hurt me far more than them.
It sounds like you have quite some spunky protags there, Sharon. I wonder if other writers find they have characters that are hard to control.
Here’s the summary for Murder on a Stick: You can get almost anything on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair. This year, murder is added to the list. Family and friends construct radically different portraits of the victim, and the list of suspects keeps growing No suspect has a corroborated alibi. Three admit being at the fair that day. The investigation crisscrosses the Twin Cities, and travels from the fairgrounds to Rochester. St. Paul investigators Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney must separate fact from fiction, truth from lies.
Lesley says: I’ll never think of fair food quite the same again.
The links for purchasing this book are: http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Stick-S-L-Smith/dp/1610091280/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421635655&sr=1-1&keywords=Murder+on+a+Stick