I’ll go ahead and put it out there: my mom is one of, if not the, smartest people I know. Everyone says this about their moms, but I can give you about 200 character witnesses that would agree with me (I’m looking at you, Mom’s place of work). So when I managed to trick her with my newest book WITCH HEARTS, I crowed with delight, because that means that I’m not half-bad at mysteries.
My mom has seen every episode of Law & Order in existence. She introduced me to crime thrillers and watches Discovery ID (a channel only about murder mysteries, kidnappings, FBI stuff, etc.) on a daily basis. (Hence, she is the reason I am such a paranoid freak about my safety.) For most of my teen years, we spent every weekend watching movies like Kiss the Girls and Double Jeopardy (Ashley Judd was totally our girl) and she introduced me to the “Criminal Minds” TV show.
What this means is that she can usually figure out whodunnit within the first fifteen minutes of a show. Thirty minutes if it’s a movie. We made it a game of who could figure it out fastest. And when she got her copy of WITCH HEARTS, I worried she’d spot my killer within just a handful of chapters.
So when I called her Sunday afternoon and she said she thought she knew who the killer was, I almost panicked. “Damn!” I thought, “Is it that obvious?” She didn’t want to tell me her thoughts and considered it a test for both of us. My heart sank a little at how confident she sounded.
Hours later, I got this text: “You win again. [Character] was my second guess but not my first. Good job!”
After I stopped laughing, I breathed a sigh of relief. Some of the best compliments I received on GIFTED were that, despite having all the facts in front of them, they still aren’t sure who to believe. I wanted them to be worried about who Lucy would choose to side with – and if it was the right choice. When I set out to write WITCH HEARTS, I knew there would be even more mystery and while “tricking the reader” isn’t the best phrase, I think you know what I mean. I want the reader to keep turning those pages until there aren’t any left!
That means not knowing the bad guy within the first twenty pages. It’s not even that I’m trying to hide that much – my killer is a bad dude and I make it clear from page one. But since I love pulling an M. Night Shamalamadingdong twist, I had to make sure that it would surprise readers. Since I managed to pull the wool over the eyes of one of the best ‘detectives’ I know, I felt better knowing that the mystery aspect is strong enough.
Think you can spot my killer from a mile away? Give it a go and pick up a copy of WITCH HEARTS then! 🙂