AUTHENTICITY IN CRIME FICTION: "A PLOT DOESN’T NEED TO BE POSSIBLE; IT NEEDS TO BE PLAUSIBLE." MELINDA COLT
Most of us read fiction books to escape into new and exciting worlds from the comfort of our own homes. We love following great detectives or private eyes as they connect clues, and we love to hate most of the villains that skilled writers portray in their books. Being part of the chase and trying to figure out the whodunnit is a delight to the mystery reader, just as the thriller reader loves to be completely enthralled in the heads of the characters and living vicariously in their fictional worlds.
But even when it comes to fiction, authors need to keep a degree of accuracy, especially if we’re talking about crime fiction. My mantra as a fiction writer: “A plot doesn’t need to be possible; it needs to be plausible.” It works, up to a point, and as a young reader, I enjoyed many books that were extremely entertaining and well written. However, now I find flaws in many of them. Why? Because back then, I used to read any genre. Now, as a crime fiction reader and writer, I analyze every detail in a story.
As for my books, I work diligently to offer my readers the best possible experience in my detective mysteries, The Irish Garda Squad. I can honestly say that researching these books has taken longer than writing them, and before I started writing Dare Game, the book that starts the series, the first thing I did was contact An Garda Síochána – Ireland’s police force – and ask them to assist me with my research. The sergeant I spoke with was quite helpful, and even though it was impossible to answer all of my questions and scenarios (I hadn’t even plotted book one yet), I got the basic information that I requested.
Another stroke of luck was meeting detective Simon McLean — retired cop, author, and active member of LEAP Scotland, who was extremely patient while answering all my questions. Being a civilian with no crime-fighting background whatsoever, I can assure you some of my questions were pretty dumb.
My publisher, my editor, and my husband, aka Mr. Walking Encyclopedia, were incredibly helpful, as were the Cops and Writers Facebook group led by Patrick O’Donnell. All of these constitute a treasure of knowledge, and judging by the reviews, led to an authentic experience for my readers.
As I prepare to release the next book in the series, Silent Strike, I am confident that I’ve done my homework, and I’ll deliver a story my readers will love!
If you haven’t started the series, find the first book, Dare Game, at your favorite retailer!
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