Creating a New Narrator with Pauline McCrory-Keegan in "To The Bone"

  Branching Off the Keegan Mystery Series with a New Narrator When I first introduced Pauline McCrory-Keegan in the Keegan Mystery series, I had no idea she would resonate so deeply with readers. Her character brought a unique strength and depth to the stories, complementing John Keegan's introspective and often sarcastic nature. As her presence grew in each book, it became clear that Pauline had a story of her own to tell. She started as sort of a foil to John Keegan, her strength in the face of adversity keeping him centered. But, for a while, I felt she became a little too much of a trope. In books like The Fallen, she takes on a larger role, savior to her husband actively, and demanding more page-time. Unfortunately, she took a back seat to the plot in Never Look Back , and I knew I had to right that wrong. In The Lies That Bind Us , I experimented with a dual narrative, allowing readers to dive into Pauline's perspective alongside John's. This choice was met with ove

Revisiting Old Friends: Writing "Second Time Around" and the Resurrection of Rick

  Writing a Retro Series Means Revisiting the Past When I set out to write "Second Time Around," the second installment in my retro series featuring Detective John Keegan, I knew I was stepping back into a world where familiar faces would be alive again. Among these characters is Rick, a pivotal figure in Keegan's life who met a tragic end in "Death Knell," the third book in my original series. Bringing Rick back to life in the retro series, which includes "The First Cut," "Second Time Around," and the upcoming "Third and Long," was both a challenge and a joy. I liked writing about the characters now deceased, but it is bittersweet. In "Death Knell" Keegan's father dies. The year it was published, my father passed too. So, this is a bit therapeutic as well as nostalgic. The Genesis of the Retro Series When writing "The Lies That Bind Us", the most recent present-day Keegan novel, Keegan faced some remnants of

The Journey of Writing "Third and Long": A Deep Dive into the Locations

I am currently finishing Third and Long  the tenth John Keegan mystery and the third in the retro series that goes back to 1999. These books are about murder and investigation, but they rely on characters and the places where they live and visit. My mystery series relies a lot on location. Usually, New York City takes center stage but I try to incorporate the surrounding areas as well. As a native Long Islander, I’ve always been drawn to the unique charm and character of various places in and around New York. While I'm somewhat familiar with these locations, I also undertook a considerable amount of research to ensure authenticity and vividness in the settings. Here’s a look into some of the key locations that breathe life into the story. Long Island: The Heart and Soul Long Island isn’t just a backdrop in "Third and Long"; it’s a character in its own right. Growing up here, I’ve experienced the contrasts between the serene suburban neighborhoods and the bustling, sometim

Writing a Retro Mystery Series: How I Took a Habit/Hobby and Turned It Into Productivity

We all like a trip to the past. That's what started me on the path to my retro series. My character reminisced about his first case and I decided to explore it. Now I have my main series chugging along and the retro series as well. As a retro computer and game enthusiast, this comes naturally to me, the framing the past as a definer of the present. How we see our younger selves dictates our present state of mind. And, as I am sure you know, our opinion of ourselves at, say, twenty, changes as we get older. For the longest time, I pegged the years of 19-22 as the best years of one's life. Not anymore. Now it's more like 32-38. When I first decided to write a retro mystery series, set against the backdrop of a pre-digital New York City, I had no idea how it would consume my life in the best possible way. It enabled me to also crank up my productivity because the present books have a past as a foundation, so writing the retro books feeds the present ones and vice versa. I'

Blog Post: Mastering the Art of Juggling Multiple Mystery Novels

  I've done a lot of different writing over the years, and have even worked on two different types (mystery and childrens) but I've never written two books in the same series concurrently. This has posed some challenges I didn't expect, as well as some bonuses that actually helped me write faster. Balancing Plots, Characters, and Timelines Writing a mystery series is a lot like being a juggler. You're constantly keeping multiple balls in the air – in this case, plots, character progression, and timelines. Currently, I'm deep in the creative process of working on a 'current' entry, "The Lies That Bind," while simultaneously crafting a prequel, "The First Cut." It's a thrilling and challenging journey, one that requires meticulous organization and an intimate understanding of my characters and their world. The two books come from the same fictional universe yet at polar opposites in terms of time. What's great is this creates so

Revisiting the Roots: The First Cut and the Evolution of Recurring Characters

  Officer Kasim: A Timeless Tribute in the NYPD Series In the realm of fictional storytelling, certain characters hold a place that transcends the narrative itself. They become symbols, embodying emotions, memories, and tributes that resonate deeply with both the writer and the reader. Officer Kasim is one such character in my NYPD series, a recurring figure who uniquely defies the constraints of time, always appearing as the new guy, forever the same age. But beyond his role in the plot, Kasim represents something profoundly personal – an homage to my father, a real-life NYPD officer. A Legacy Beyond Time Officer Kasim (my last name reversed) serves as a constant reminder of my father's spirit and dedication. Each book in the series sees Kasim in his early days with the NYPD, capturing the essence of a young, enthusiastic officer. This deliberate choice to keep him perpetually new to the force is a way to immortalize the early days of my father's career, a period filled

Reverse-Engineering Character: The First Cut and the Evolution of Recurring Characters

In the world of literature, characters often become entities beyond the pages they inhabit, growing alongside their creator and audience. As a writer, delving back into the past of my series with "The First Cut" was not just a trip down memory lane; it was an exploratory journey into the genesis of characters who have become a part of my narrative identity. It's fascinating and challenging to reverse-engineer the evolution of characters like Pauline, Jacob, Rick, and others, tracing back to their origins in 1999. The Art of Reverse-Engineering Characters Going back to the year 1999 in "The First Cut," the task at hand was to peel back the layers of time and experience that had shaped each character. The objective was to find their core, their unrefined selves before the series of events that defined them in later books. It's like meeting an old friend and discovering who they were before you knew them – there's a sense of familiarity, yet everything