Once again, it’s my pleasure to introduce my next Crime Cafe interviewee as a guest blogger here! Today we have the very prolific Bill Crider, who is giving away a copy of his upcoming book, BETWEEN THE LIVING AND THE DEAD, to a lucky winner! All you have to do is email Bill at email@example.com and he’ll pick a winner from the entrants at random.
So, now … without further ado, here’s Bill Crider! 🙂
Every writer’s been asked about ideas at one time or another. How do you get them? Where do they come from? I never know how to answer because I never have ideas for books except in a vague, general sort of way.
What I mean is that plots don’t pop into my head. I don’t think, “Okay, I’ll write about these characters and I’ll have a plot twist every thirty-five pages and I’ll put in one red herring per chapter and I’ll write the ending first so I’ll be sure to get it down right.”
Boy, do I ever wish I had ideas like that! But as I said, I don’t. What I have is a thought or two. When it was time for me to write Between the Living and the Dead, the latest book in my Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, my vague thought was, “I’ve never written a haunted-house book before, and I’ve always wanted to do that.”
With a thought like that in mind, some writers would sit down and write a nice outline to guide them though the rest of the process. Not me. I always like to have a title in mind to begin with, something I can put on the first page of the manuscript before I write anything else. This time I remembered a line from a poem by William Wordsworth (I was once an English teacher), and the line seemed to fit what I wanted to do. So I put that on the page. Now all I had to do was to write a book to go with it.
I live in a small town in Texas, and one day in the Walmart parking lot I saw a ghost-hunter’s van. It was painted up with ads and information, and since I write about a small town in Texas (which in no way resembles the one I live in), I thought my fictional town needed some ghost hunters to investigate the haunted house I was going to write about. I had a recurring character who’d make a perfect ghost hunter, and I had a title, so I sat down and wrote the first page of the book.
After that, all I had to do was write about 350 more pages. Easy, right? Okay, maybe not, but several months later I reached the end, and I’m pretty pleased with the result. I hope the readers are, too.
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Bill Crider is a native Texan who’s lived in the state all his life, and he’s been reading, writing, and collecting mystery and western fiction for most of that time. He received a PhD from The University of Texas at Austin, where he wrote his dissertation on Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross MacDonald. He taught both high school and college before his retirement, and he combined his teaching career with his writing career, publishing more than 75 novels and an equal number of short stories under his own and other names. He’s best known for the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, which features a sheriff in a small Texas county. When he’s not writing, Crider is reading one of the thousands (and thousands) of old paperbacks that he’s collected over the years or listening to music from decades past. He prefers baseball to football, likes old-time radio shows, and sometimes watches black-and-white movies. He lives the quiet life in Alvin, Texas, a small town between Houston and Galveston.
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PS: I’m going to add that my second Crime Cafe podcast is now available online! And coming to iTunes and Google Play soon! 🙂