Sunday, October 19, 2008
Who is my favorite mystery novelist? I'd say Ed McBain.
When I pick up an 87th precinct novel, I know what I am going to get. It is always a good story, and it always takes the main characters, Carrella and the gang, a little farther in their lives and stories.
Now that I know how hard it is to write good novels, I admire Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter) even more. I was sad when the 87th precinct stories came to an end with McBain's death.
I think I'm improving as a writer. In regard to plot, I think the second Roy Rogers novel, The Murder on the Hospital Landing, is better than the first. Believe me, writing a consistently good story is not an easy thing to do.
Just the other day, someone asked me what mystery novelists I enjoy. I gave them a kind of eclectic list, authors from Dashiell Hammett (whom I think of as one of the greatest of all American writers) to Tony Hillerman. I've read all kinds of books, everything from M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin) and Janet Evanovich to Agatha Christie and Ross Macdonald. I enjoy Jane Haddam's novels featuring Gregor Demarkian. Those characters grow and change too. I like different kinds of characters from Easy Rawlins to Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Precious Ramotswe.
My editor has indicated that she is interested in the second Roy Rogers book (which is in her hands). But sometimes I wonder what would happen if the economic downturn and other things caused me not to be commercially published again. And I know the answer. I would keep on writing. I've always written for myself and to leave books for my family anyway. I would want to know what direction Roy, Harry, Bullet and the others would go. And I would want to know about the characters in the other novel series I have started, Rev. John Cosby and Marianne Gonzalez. That book is titled Murder and the Book of Revelation.
So, Ed McBain and a whole group of others led me to something I love. I love putting words on paper and trying to tell good stories. And I'm privileged. I'm getting to spend at least a portion of the last part of my life doing what I enjoy. Who could ask for more?
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