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The Things That Scare Me The Things That Scare Me 

The Things That Scare Me  I get asked about going to dark places in my books. Or about my childhood, and what exactly happened to make me the way I am. More than a handful of people have assured me they’d love to buy my books, but they can’t handle anything scary (to which I […]


Anatomy of a Suspense NovelAnatomy of a Suspense Novel

Anatomy of a Suspense Novel I’ve been a doctor for more than twenty years now, but I can still remember my very first day of medical school. As I walked into the room, the smell of formaldehyde burned my eyes. A group of us stood around the table, organizing our tools and nervously chatting. Finally, […]


5 Literary Classics that won’t send you to sleep (and 5 that might)

5 Literary Classics that won’t send you to sleep (and 5 that might)   I grew up in rural Dorset, England, in the 1980s and let me tell you, it was dull. The choices were: watch one of the three TV channels, stare at the ceiling, or trudge through muddy fields with a stick. And […]


Sentences: A Love Story

Sentences A Love Story I am in love with sentences. I am a philanderer of sentences, a polyamorous glutton, a syntax satyr, a serial sentencer. And I have no intention of ever changing my ways, no 12-step program for me, even though, with each passing year, I become more of an oddball, more of a […]


TOP TEN YA MYSTERIESTOP TEN YA MYSTERIES

TOP TEN YA MYSTERIES   One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus. Five teenagers with little or nothing in common are forced to serve detention together after school, but only four of them survive the experience. It’s a brilliant set-up—The Breakfast Club with a murderous twist—and you quickly find yourself in the awkward […]


Six Reasons Near-History Creates Great Mystery

Six Reasons Near-History Creates Great Mystery The majority of contemporary thrillers are set in the present day. But there are valid reasons to forgo that convention and set the story in an earlier timeframe, such as near-history (roughly defined as the middle part of the twentieth century). A few advantages of near-history mystery: 1) Technology […]


British Crime Favorites: Spies, Inspectors, Historical Figures, Serial Killers, and People with Serious Issues!British Crime Favorites: Spies, Inspectors, Historical Figures, Serial Killers, and People with Serious Issues!

British Crime Favorites: Spies, Inspectors, Historical Figures, Serial Killers, and People with Serious Issues!   British crime fiction can carry some weak connotations across the pond. I mean, the police there don’t even carry guns, and our last execution was in the same year that Ian Fleming died (he wasn’t the one hanged, I hasten […]


The Execution of a Prosecutor or a little-known Historical Fact…

The Execution of a Prosecutor or a little-known Historical Fact… H. Auden wrote his poem “Musee des Beaux Arts” after viewing Brueghel’s painting of the tragic death of Icarus, a mythic legend who plummeted into the sea when the wax on his wings melted flying too close to the sun. But Brueghel depicts Icarus’ fall […]


Genre Benders: 5 Books that Use Elements of Genre to Tell Big, Bold, Beautiful Human Stories

Genre Benders: 5 Books that Use Elements of Genre to Tell Big, Bold, Beautiful Human Stories   The literary world often draws a distinction between what is considered “genre” – plot-driven fiction that exists for the purpose of entertainment – and “literary” – character-driven fiction that exists to reflect our lives back to us in […]


How being a psychotherapist helped me become a better writerHow being a psychotherapist helped me become a better writer

How being a psychotherapist helped me become a better writer   I must admit, I’ve had an interesting career journey. For many years, I was a Hollywood screenwriter, after which I became a licensed psychotherapist specializing in treating creative types in the entertainment community. Now, after 28 years of listening to hundreds of people’s most […]


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