Preparing for Thanksgiving reminds me of planning a book. You know the general sense of the meal, when it will be served, and have personal high points in mind. Same thing with the idea for a book.
Thanksgiving in our family means turkey, dressing not stuffing, cranberry relish. My sister says that sweet potato casserole without marshmallows is not worth having, and she insists on green bean casserole. These last two are her “essentials”. I’ll throw in pecan and pumpkin pies as the go-to desserts.
I’m reminded of writing when I think about these holiday meals. There is a certain shape to writing a mystery: a crime, a solution. But the way you get there, that’s the fun. What kind of crime, is it a sadistic serial killer or who-stole-the-church-offering? Are there talking cats or is the book draped in as dark a noir as can be?
My sister recounts the worst Thanksgiving she ever had as one where the turkey was missing (ham was served) and the sweet potatoes were nude, not a marshmallow in sight.
Books are like holidays, each reader expecting something between the pages, a laugh, a thrill; with mysteries, certainly a resolution. As I make a few pies today, I’ll be giving thanks for the diversity among these books, of topic, and character, and tone and style, and everything else. Not every book is for every person, but keep looking and you will find the right fit for you!