Writing by the Numbers and Playing by the Rules
Every genre has its own rules. Try writing a fairy tale without beginning with “Once upon a Time” and see what your audience’s reaction will be. Try writing a love story in which you change the formula from “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl” to “boy meets girl and they hate each other and never meet again.” Your readers will boo you out of the library. Similarly, try writing a modern mystery in which you use some of the gimmicks found in the old Perry Mason TV show. Have someone no one ever suspected as the killer suddenly jump up in court and confess.
Readers today have certain expectations. When they sit down to read a mystery, they expect the writer to follow certain rules. They want to follow detectives as they try to solve a crime, look over their shoulders, and guess right along with them.. They don’t mind being led astray by a few red herrings, but they expect to see the detectives solve their cases by using logical deductions and modern police procedures. Readers don’t want an entirely new character to appear in the last chapter and confess. That’s cheating! If a couple of very suspicious characters turn out to be good citizens, that’s okay because all of us misjudge people on occasion.
So, you can understand my dilemma when I sat down to write a police procedural mystery with a paranormal component. I couldn’t have the ghost perform any tricks to help solve the crimes. I couldn’t have the ghost whisper to Josh Harrell that Mr. Jones is the killer. What kind of experience would that be for my readers? Instead, I had to make absolutely sure that Detective Frankie Ryan solves the case logically so readers can guess along with her and feel they haven’t been cheated.
What I wound up doing in Silent Partner was to have a two-pronged search for a killer. Frankie uses modern police procedures while Josh gets occasional hints from his spiritual guide. As long as they both wind up at the same place at around the same time, the process works.
Having said that, I want to point out a number of other elements of my novel that fit neatly into the modern police procedure mystery; I’m talking specifically about the detective-hero, the protagonist in so many modern mysteries. Think of Harry Bosch in the Michael Connelly novels as an example. The detective is generally a loner, even if he or she works with a partner. The detective often is at odds with departmental chiefs because they are more concerned with protecting their jobs than in solving cases. Similarly, the detective often disregards departmental rules for the greater good.
Most detectives have personal problems; they tend to be a lonely group that drinks heavily. They are very moral, though, and incapable of selling out. They are fearless and relentless when it comes to solving a case, even if that means putting themselves in danger.
Often detectives relate best to the “little people” within the department, the hardworking CSI technicians who aren’t political. Detectives are very bad at politics. They don’t have the heart to kiss up to those above them. They frequently are in danger of being fired or demoted; other officers don’t understand their passion for their “mission” and think of them as a bit deranged.
So, even though I did add a paranormal element to my novel, I followed the rules for the most part when it came to my detective. She’s a female version of a long line of detective-heroes leading up and including Harry Bosch. In fact, my intention in writing Silent Partner was to create a female Harry Bosch.
I hope you enjoy reading Silent Partner and following the clues strewn throughout the book. I’ve certainly seeded the trail with plenty of hints. See if you can discover the killer before Detective Frankie Ryan or reporter Josh Harrell do.
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Publisher: Pen-L Publishing
Number of pages: 239
Word Count: 60,000
Cover Artist: Kelsey Rice
Book Trailer: None
Detective “Frankie” Ryan tracks a sadistic killer while the press attacks her as a feminist vigilante who takes the law into her own hands. The only one who can help her is a tabloid reporter who can’t decide if he’s a psychic who sees ghosts or is just going insane.
As they search for the killer in a sunny seacoast city’s seamy S&M underside, they begin to question everything they know about sexual identity. How can they find the killer before he strikes again when he defies any description?
Silent Partner is a paranormal mystery, a police procedure novel with a female detective that will remind you of Harry Bosch, a ghost story that suggests what lies beyond death, and a comic look at a tabloid where the “truth” is whatever sells.
Frankie glared at Landry. His neck turned red, but he didn’t say anything. “How could I live without her? I was addicted to her. Once you had her in your system, you never wanted her to leave. When I was away from her, I thought of her constantly. It wasn’t just the sex. She was the smartest, wittiest woman I’ve ever known. She was the most interesting and exciting woman I’ve ever met. She was also the most manipulative woman I’ve ever met. I hated myself for not throwing her out, but I just couldn’t. Love is a horrible thing, and not the wonderful things
“Did she leave a note?” Frankie was trying to develop a timeline.
“I came home around five-thirty, and she didn’t leave a note. I never believed her notes anyway. You have to understand something about Lorna. She never admitted she was wrong about anything, and she never apologized. She could convince herself in a minute that anything she said was true. Lorna once left me a note that she was going shopping with a girl friend. That friend called later and didn’t know anything about the shopping. I told my wife I knew she lied to me, and she became furious that I didn’t believe her. I’m sure she totally believed that she was right and I was wrong. I think the shrinks call someone like that a sociopath.” “We’ll need your statement. Does your wife have any enemies?”
Marco looked up. His eyes glistened from his tears. “It’s probably a long list. As I told you, Detective, she didn’t play by the same rules as everyone else.”
“Let’s start with the names of people you know had reason to dislike her,” Frankie said.
About the Author:
Stan Schatt grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and now resides in Carlsbad, California. He has written thirty-five books on a wide variety of subjects ranging from fiction to technology. He is co-author of Journey to a Different Dimension, an Amazon bestseller. He also authored Egypt Rising, a YA novel focusing on a teen’s experience in Egypt at the time of the Egyptian revolution of 2011. This novel contains paranormal elements including a secret buried under the Sphinx. The paranormal mystery Silent Partner is Schatt’s latest novel.
He has led several careers including futurist and executive for many of the world’s leading technology market research firms, police department administrator, autopsy assistant, software trainer, Telecommunications Department Chairman, and English professor. He taught at Tokyo University as a Fulbright exchange professor. His non-fiction includes books on such diverse topics as strategies for changing careers for a green industry job, studies of Michael Connelly and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., network and data communications technology, telecommunications, computer programming.