I published my first book, Secrets My Mothers Kept, in November of last year (2020). I spent four years writing it, a story close to my heart. It’s a contemporary novel, arguably literary fiction, and I enjoyed writing every page of it. As an aside, you can learn more about the inspiration behind the book here: Writing What You Know...With a Twist
Once I pushed that book off the ground, I started pondering my next book. I had, in fact, already outlined a second novel while I was in the midst of editing the first. It’s also contemporary general fiction. I’ve written about a third of it. But I’ve always had this idea in the back of my head about writing a mystery series. I love reading mystery, mostly forensic and detective novels, but I never really found a premise that I thought could carry a mystery series, or even a standalone.
Then I was reading an article in BAMS, which is the Bulletin for the American Meteorological Society, which I got into after pursuing a B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences (Operational Meteorology) in my early 40s. The article was on how forensic meteorology could be used to recreate past weather events and determine culpability in airplane accidents, property damage, and a wide variety of other accidental and criminal scenarios.
I decided that would be a great start for my series and unique. I’ve never read a series with a forensic meteorologist before. Then, I thought about the setting. I’ve lived in a lot of places and I generally like to use a setting where I’ve lived for a good amount of time. I enjoy reading books that take place where I’ve lived because I get a little thrill out of recognizing the setting descriptions and street names. Patricia Cornwell’s early Scarpetta series comes to mind because I actually went to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where those books take place. Knowing how important the setting is to me, I decided to set this series in Texas, my current home. And it makes sense now to weave, as I had wanted to, western thematic elements into my mystery series.
Now that I’ve done a fair amount of outlining on the first book, and a good chunk of the writing too, I’ve found that switching genres hasn’t been that difficult. It helps that I’m a huge fan of the genre I’m now writing. Also that I know a lot about the field my protagonist is an expert in, and it’s a passion of mine to write about it. I do have concerns about picking a field that not a lot of people are informed about, but I look at it as an opportunity. It may take a little work to convince people that forensic meteorology can be just as fascinating as forensic anthropology or pathology, but I’m up for the challenge.
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