Thursday, August 2, 2012

Meet Catherine Astolfo

Fact and Fiction: Writing a Mystery Book by Catherine Astolfo

Writing mystery books is more difficult than it might appear. Only highly intelligent people can do it. Keeping all the clues straight requires an entire box of cue cards. Or a night’s worth of napkins from the pub. Or writing on the wall with washable markers. (Those were washable, right?)

There’s an old adage that says, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” Writers can’t get all the research right every time, can we? I mean, sometimes the situation cries out for a manipulation of the facts.

In my first book, The Bridgeman, I portray an old-fashioned lift bridge and the person who manages it. I had to actually go and look at a bridge to see how that worked. My protagonist throughout the series, the Emily Taylor Mysteries, is a school principal in a small town. (Luckily, I was one in my other life.) When the caretaker is murdered in the school, I have to explain how the education system would handle such a thing. Then there is the puppy mill: for this section, as difficult as it was, I wrote about the experiences of my niece as a veterinarian’s assistant.

In Victim, I had to do a lot of reading about Ojibwa folklore and philosophy. Legacy returns to the school and its processes with Emily’s handling of a very dysfunctional family, plus there are tidbits about the effects of fire, inquests, and hypnosis. The research! My fourth book, Seventh Fire, discusses a wrongful conviction and how these tragic mistakes happen. My Forensics for Dummies and Criminal Investigative Failures are well thumbed.

There must be enough fact even in fiction. You can see why only highly intelligent people can write a mystery. (Or is that fiction?)

Find the links to all four Emily Taylor Mysteries here:

Visit Catherine at her website any time:

1 comment:

  1. Cathy, you and I have more in common than a book title. I too am a research junkie. Must get myself a copy of Forensics for Dummies.