Cynthia Hamilton


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Cynthia Hamilton

Anatomy of a Mystery

It was never my intention to delve into the mystery/suspense genre, or write a series for that matter. But now I’ve taken this path, I’m truly loving all the opportunities and challenges that come with the territory. Every aspect of the process is different than what I’ve done it the past; creating a character whom I can follow and expand on is a test as well as an opportunity. But the biggest hurdle is keeping it fresh and mining new scenarios that will bring readers back for more while keeping Madeline interested in her role.

Fortunately, by a fluke of the writing process, my protagonist ended up dual careers. This is not only good for adding dimension to the character’s life, but it allows Madeline to realistically build on her accidental role as P.I., while giving her unique opportunities to rustle up business. In “A High Price to Pay,” Madeline picks up her first client at the most prestigious and annoying job as an event coordinator. The vehicle of her event planning career also made it feasible for Madeline to work through her three-year private investigator apprenticeship. And it gives her an edge when setting up a sting operation to bring a slippery fraud to justice in the third installment in the series.

So…everything is purring along just fine—except for one crucial element: adequate writing time. I do know writers who are very disciplined and almost never let anything get in the way of their writing time. Oh, how I envy them! Sure, I don’t have a regular 9-5 job anymore, but it’s not always easy to keep the tide of life from surging over your imaginary time boundaries. But I won’t blame my separation from my favorite pursuit on anyone or any one thing. Life just happens.

I would be in total despair at my relative lack of progress on this third book in Madeline’s saga if I didn’t have the secret weapon of being able to plot and write the story in my head. It is in those moments when I realize I can switch to auto-pilot and turn off the needless narrative that I’m able to tap back into what’s happening at M.D.P.I.

Because of a recent foot surgery, I’ve been unable to take my customary walks on the beach, where most of my book development takes place. I’ve had to hold onto my sanity by consciously blocking out all the brain noise so I can stitch together fragments of the plot. It does take the edge off the frustration of not being able to sit down at the computer, though it’s hard to fight down the creeping dread that I’m not working fast enough.

Fortunately, as I found in book two, fermenting time is actually very beneficial when brewing up a steamy cauldron of whodunit and why. Random thoughts stop by to toss in their two-cents’ worth, adding twists and turns I would’ve missed if I’d been busy pounding out the story. I also have to remind myself that I experienced a seven-month lag time while writing “High Price,” but managed to pull it all together in three months, something I couldn’t have done if the book hadn’t been writing itself in my head.

So, I bide my time as well as I can, making promises to myself that I no longer believe. Yet I know somehow, someway, this book will get written—just as I know “life” will never get out of my way!

Until next time,