August 31, 2017
Themes That Transcend the Plot

In August of 2017, at the Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference, I chose a panel discussion, out of dozens in the cart for that day, titled Why Write? Themes That Transcend the Plot. I believe all writers of fiction and nonfiction touch on themes of social and moral significance. Those who don’t consciously realize it miss the opportunity to deepen the beauty and meaning of their stories.

All writers write for one market, the market, humankind. All readers, from the little boy holding a graphic novel to the college psychology professor researching the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath, all readers are inviting into their individual lives knowledge, entertainment, and understanding of themselves and the world around them.

My own mystery/thriller novels hold elements, torn pages, in effect, from the newspaper, from the Bible, from every children’s book, Shakespearian play or classic novel I’ve ever read. Writers draw from their experience to put words on a page. They can also acquire self-knowledge from what that experience translates to on the page.

There is a saying that you are what you eat. I’d like to borrow that slogan to propose another truth: the writer is what the writer writes. What Continue reading

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August 29, 2017

Writers’ Conference, Killer Nashville. Driving home to Florida from the Killer Nashville Mystery Writers’ Conference in Tennessee, I passed through Southern Alabama. It is a place rife with sharp contradictions. I passed through towns named Opp and Verbena. Along their main roads, I saw abandoned mobile homes, rusted farm machinery, and tumbled unpainted shacks. In the next mile, vintage two-story frame homes lined the road, their porches supported by white pillars. The houses might have aspired to–but obviously failed–to attain the size and quality of antebellum Southern plantations; nevertheless, they reminded me of another era of stability and genteel prosperity, the 1950’s.
The unoccupied landscape was another unworldly venue, the world of Kudzu, ruled by those creeping vines capable of engulfing every twig, every struggling plant, and climbing fifty-foot-tall pine trees. Kudzu vines blanketed some areas of the countryside, transforming them into huge waves, undulating seas of leafy green, more alien, more impenetrable and more forbidding than any jungle.
Then the eeriest experience of all. I passed through a landscape of newer homes, large and well-kept, set back from the road amid acre upon acre of cut grass. It was a gently swelling grassy veld, almost like a park.
Sensations Continue reading

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