Lesley A. Diehl
The first two pages of the third book in the Eve Apple mysteries (Camel Press, Publisher), winner of a Readers’ Favorites Award, follow:
“Sharks? You’re worried about sharks?” I leaned back in my chair and let the wind blow the sweet smell of salt water into my face. I sat with Madeleine, my best friend and business partner, on deck in the stern of the cabin cruiser, the sun warming us as we headed down the mangrove-lined waterway.”
The first two pages of my latest novel, The Things We Said Today, are not the original beginning. As many writers discover while writing long fiction, I began somewhere else and realized after I had completed what I thought was the entire novel that I needed more at the beginning.
What begins a novel is a promise to the reader of many different things. A story-line, for sure, especially in plot-centric stories like mysteries or suspense. A promise of what and where the story is about. But also it describes a bond with a character, a person whom the reader can connect with, who will be with them, representing the reader throughout the novel. A compassionate, empathetic, sympathetic character, a friend whose corner we crouch in, hoping for the best.
Helen Dunn Frame
What does a mother do when she outlived her only son and an elderly Greek friend insisted his widow may have played a role in his death? Regardless of the truth, when this happened, I wrote a novel incorporating the traumatic event. It was cathartic, helped me to deal with grief, and to come to terms with the loss.
My son died in 2000 after a “minor” operation during which he developed Swiss cheese-like gangrene on the underside of his stomach and infection took control of his entire body. Months later, I began writing the book featuring the same sleuths from Greek Ghosts because it would be the second in the series of stories of mystery entwined with romance and human traits.
Two pages isn’t much space to fill readers in when they start reading a later-in-the-series book cold without having read the preceding books. That was the problem I had with book six in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series. Regan, the protagonist, and her husband, Tom, have to be introduced, their relationship needs to be made clear, they have to be made sympathetic, and that’s just for starters. It’s also necessary to set the stage, build tension, and introduce the overriding dissonant theme in of the book.