Guest Post: Michele Drier

Why I Write What I Know

In the scheme of things, when I watch Neil Degrasse Tyson talk about the universe, I realize that I don’t know anything.

In my small sphere of experience, though, I do know some things, and these are part of my DeltaForDeath_A1mystery series. I know how newspapers work and I know the state of California, both of which underpin the mysteries that suck Amy Hobbes in.

Plus, her incurable need for adrenaline.

In the upcoming (soon, soon, before May) third in the series, Delta for Death, managing editor Amy and her cops reporter Clarice Stamms at the Monroe Press are intrigued with two bodies found near the small Delta town of Freeland.

Set against California’s severe drought and on-going water problems, Delta for Death uses Gov. Jerry Brown’s concept of digging huge (and deep) tunnels under the Delta to ship Sacramento River water south to set up political tension.

Water has always been the bane of California. An old state saying is “Whisky is for drinking, water is for fighting,” and this continues. The water-rich far north of the state has fewer people—and votes—than the southern part with about 25 million of the state’s residents. Add in the billions of dollars made from the agricultural lands of the San Joaquin Valley, heavily dependent on plentiful and cheap water, and the fight over water rights is on.

The tensions created by this look like fodder for murder to Amy and Clarice.

For some reason, this book has had a longer gestation period than when I was pregnant with my daughter. Maybe it’s that this time I’m writing current events and think about Amy every time I water my plants or take a shower.

I like writing what I know. I feel safe describing Clarice and Amy’s relationship. I understand how the newsroom works and like writing about the interaction of the editors and reporters with the police.

There’s so much anger and distrust portrayed about this relationship that doesn’t exist in the real world of law enforcement and print journalism that I base Amy’s interaction on my relationships with local sheriffs and police departments.

Writing what you know also lets accuracy creep in. I just read a romance set in L.A. that has the main characters taking a red-eye to San Francisco! Not.

Los Angeles and San Francisco are an hour apart by air. And they’re in the same time zone. If you leave L.A. at midnight, you arrive in San Francisco at one a.m. A red-eye is only a flight that originates on the West Coast around midnight and lands on the East Coast in the morning, in time for a full business day.

This was by a NYT bestselling author…someone I’ll never read again.

Whether you know astrophysics or how to make fudge, basing your writing on what you know means you’ll develop a plot you understand, create characters who interact well with each other and include accurate facts and descriptions.

Besides, it’s fun to make incidents in your past turn out right this time!

***

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.

SNAP: All That Jazz, Book Eight of The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was awarded second place by the Paranormal Romance Guild’s reviewers for best paranormal vampire book of 2014. The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles also won for best series in 2014. The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles include SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, DANUBE: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Night and SNAP: All That Jazz. SNAP: I, Vampire, Book Nine in the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles is scheduled for publication in 2015. She also writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Edited for Death and Labeled for Death. A third book, Delta for Death, is coming in 2015.

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11 thoughts on “Guest Post: Michele Drier”

  1. Thanks for visiting, Michele. Yes, it’s fun to make the stories come out right, isn’t it? My husband and I were just discussing the history of water woes in California. We realizing that in the majority of old westerns, the fight centers around what else? Water rights.

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  2. Thanks for dropping by, Michele. Paolo Bacigalupi wrote an interesting short story in which California has won the rights to all the water in the Colorado River and the towns in western Colorado have all dried up–quite literally. I love it when people who know the world you’re writing about tell you they sometimes felt in their real life that they were walking around in your book.

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  3. What an interesting post, Michele! The focus on water rights reminded me of the film CHINATOWN and how grippingly it was dramatized there.

    And Amy is such a great character. I look forward to reading about her latest adventures. Thanks for visiting us!

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    1. Absolutely Chinatown, Cynthia! And the book Cadillac Desert.
      I’m glad you like Amy, she’s a woman struggling to get it right. Something I haven’t quite figured out!

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  4. Using a water shortage as the basis for a mystery will resonate with many readers. In fact there is a whole new genre of environmental fiction out there–I think it helps to inform as well as entertain. Good luck!

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