As part of the launch of Into the Black Nowhere, I did a bunch of talking. To readers, radio hosts, and magazines. Here’s a roundup. Just in case you want to know more about the novel, or my writing process, or which tunes I listen to when I write. Bonus: click through to enough articles, and you’ll see what I look like when I go axe throwing.
Meg Gardiner’s Dark Past — Texas Monthly
How Author Meg Gardiner Gets Into the Mind of a Killer — Austin Monthly
The Quintessential Interview: Meg Gardiner — Seattle Review of Books
Tracking the Darkness — The Big Thrill
The Kindle Chronicles Podcast
A while back I gave a talk to Creative Mornings, “a breakfast lecture series for the creative community.” Every month Creative Mornings picks a topic, and groups in 183 cities around the globe bring in local speakers to lecture on it. Earlier, I posted some of the artwork that people drew at the talk.
I spoke to Creative Mornings/Austin on the topic of Mystery. The video of my talk is now online. Here you go.
Y’all know I don’t just love to write. I love to talk about writing, and teach writing, and write about writing.
When UNSUB was published a few months ago, I wrote an article for Signature, the Penguin Random House online magazine. “Writing a New Series: A Guide to Creating a World from Scratch.” Now Signature has included the article in its annual writing guide — which you can download for free.
Signature’s 2017 Ultimate Writing Guide includes writing advice from twenty-two authors, including Jill Santopolo, Ammon Shea, Jan Karon, Tess Gerritsen, and me. It includes articles about how to:
- Banish writer’s block,
- Revise a draft without losing your mind,
- Turn off your internal editor while writing,
- Craft a believable world,
- And much more.
The guide is cosponsored by Merriam-Webster. What are you waiting for? Download it now.
My next novel, Into the Black Nowhere, will be published in early 2018. It’s almost ready to go. I spent this week proofreading the “first pass” of the typeset pages.
Editing, like everything else in writing, is a process. It’s a back-and-forth: between me and my ideas; with my agent and editor; with the copyeditor and proofreader; and, finally, with my own judgment that the novel in its entirety — the story, structure, characters, suspense, pacing, voice, and wording of every sentence — is the best I can make it.
Each step in the process comes with its own challenges. And each version of the story I write gets comments. For this novel — the sequel to UNSUB — here’s how the notes and editorial suggestions I’ve received have evolved.
- This novel is a cat-and-mouse thriller in which Caitlin Hendrix pursues a charming, devious killer across the western US. Why do you insert a convoluted subplot about one victim’s greedy grandparents attempting to steal an inheritance?
- The mid-novel murder is dramatic, splashy, and completely predictable. What if you flipped the situation on its head?
(Me: If I do that… hey! A whole fresh, unexpected plot line appears.)
- The pace in the first half is, to put it kindly, leisurely. Okay, it’s slow. Remember the reviews you got for UNSUB, which praised its tautness and drive? Yeah, do that again.
- The ending needs more brains, less brawn. For instance: Why is Caitlin clinging to the roof rack of a careening SUV? Get her off of there. Now.
- So many cops! So many FBI agents! New ones seem to pop up every few pages. They roam the novel in groups, holding constant conversations. Send some of them home.
- Why does one character describe a life-and-death struggle after the fact, through dialogue? You’re missing a chance to show a badass fight. WRITE THE SCENE.
- Does this scene take place on Wednesday? (Me: Yes. Obviously.)
- Are you positive this scene takes place on Wednesday? (Me: Completely.)
- Then why is it still Tuesday? (Me: GAH.)
First pass pages:
- Me: Delete “fast.” Insert “quick.”
- Me: Delete “printout.” Insert “documents.”
- Me: Delete “asshole.” Insert: “jackass.”
As I said, it’s a process.
And, if you want to see how I put all these suggestions into practice, you can preorder the novel.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
Next month I’ll be teaching at the La Jolla Writer’s Conference in San Diego. I’ll also be giving a keynote address to the conference. To say I’m happy about getting a chance to spend a weekend in beautiful La Jolla, talking about writing, would be an understatement.
If you’re interested in attending the weekend, check it out: La Jolla Writer’s Conference.
This Saturday, September 23, I’m giving a workshop as part of a full day program of writing instruction and discussion for Texas Writes. As always, the program will be given at a rural Texas library. It’s free and open to the public, but if you want to attend, you should call and preregister.
PLOTTING TO KILL: WRITING MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS
How do you create compelling characters and put them in memorable conflict? Meg will talk about heroes, villains, and the hook, and discuss techniques to to ramp up the suspense and tension in your story. She’ll show how writers can use point of view, flashbacks, and dialogue to create riveting scenes, keep readers guessing about what will happen next, and have them turning the pages until the end.
Texas Writes at the Bosque Arts Center
215 S. College Hill Drive
To pre-register for this event, contact the Nellie Pederson Library at (254) 675-6495.
Spread the word to your writer friends. I hope I’ll see some of you there.
Who wants a sneak peek at my next novel?
Into the Black Nowhere — the sequel to UNSUB — will be published on January 30, 2018. I can’t wait. Here’s a teaser:
On Saturday nights, women in Texas are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.
Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style — posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.
To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.
I’ll be talking more about the book as we get closer to publication. But for the moment, you can pre-order.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound