Today I'm delighted to welcome
to share her BEST OF CRIME ...
Richard Price. The brilliant characterization in his police novels is nothing short of infuriatingly good. Read Lush Life for the most vivid fictional portrayal of New York City possible.
A Few Good Men. I saw this military courtroom drama when I was a kid and liked it so much I recorded it onto a VHS tape (ah, remember those?) for frequent re-watching. Luckily, it’s a bit of a syndicated classic and pops up on TV regularly even still.
... TV DRAMAS
The original Law & Order will always be my favorite, especially the first five or six seasons. The show took a formula—literally half the show is about cops and the other half about lawyers -and turned it into an art form. I also adored The Wire and Sons of Anarchy, for the quality of the writing. (It’s no surprise that Richard Price was a writer for The Wire!)
... FICTIONAL KILLERS
John Wick. The body count in this recent series of thriller films is probably the highest of anything I’ve ever seen on the screen. Wick is a retired hitman who’s forced back into the life after an act of violence against his dog. His is a story of vengeance, not cold-blooded murder, but I love the way he lives by his “code.”
... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES
Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt—the self-appointed “world’s greatest detective” - is a ray of cocaine-fueled light. I love the unique approach in that series, which blends a present-day mystery with an old “girl detective” comic book series. Claire has an unforgettable cynicism, and she sees through everything and everyone except herself.
... MURDER WEAPONS
I like my murder straightforward, for the most part—you won’t find any unusual murder weapons in my books (yet). I’m very intrigued by poisons though, especially the world of plant medicine and how it can quickly turn deadly…
... DEATH SCENE
This isn’t from crime fiction, but I’m still not over the final sequence of Six Feet Under, in which the audience gets to see how each main character will die in the future. A beautiful and haunting way to end a show about the fact that everybody dies…
For no-nonsense writing advice, I like to read Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terrible Minds. I tend to do research in a lot of different places (until someone invents crime-google.com, this is the only way) but I find myself collecting interesting tidbits from Vice.com articles a lot.
... WRITING TIPS
I always say the best piece of writing advice is just to write. Annoying, but true. Beyond that, here are two practical tips that have helped me a lot:
1. Don’t worry about chapters when you’re drafting a novel. Just write the story, and figure out the chapters later.
2. If you’re stumped about something, be it a detail, a plot point, whatever: just type “TK” and move on. It’s an old proofreading shorthand for “to come,” meaning, to be written later and probably on deadline. But it’s handy because the letters TK don’t appear in that order in any English words, so a find-and-replace will easily help you find them all before you turn the piece in to your editor. If you write linearly (like I do), you might find it scary to leave a detail just hanging around unfinished like that—the horror!—but it’s actually quite liberating once you try it a few times.
... WRITING SNACKS
I can’t stand getting gunk on my keyboard so I rarely eat while writing, but I am never without a drink - usually coffee, sometimes tea or whiskey.
About KRISTEN LEPIONKA
Kristen Lepionka is the author of the Roxane Weary mystery series. Her debut, The Last Place You Look, won the Shamus Award for Best First P.I. novel and was also nominated for Anthony and Macavity Awards. She grew up mostly in a public library and could often be found in the adult mystery section well before she was out of middle school. She is a co-host of the feminist podcast Unlikeable Female Characters, and she lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her partner and two cats.
About THE STORIES YOU TELL
A late-night phone call is never good news, especially when you’re Roxane Weary. This one is from her brother, Andrew, whose evening was interrupted by an urgent visit from Addison, a hip young DJ and one-time fling, who turns up at his apartment scared and begging to use his phone. She leaves as quickly as she appeared, but now Andrew is worried – especially when Addison never makes it home and her friends and family demand to know where she is. As the police begin to suspect that something may have happened to her, and that Andrew is involved, Roxane tracks Addison’s digital footprint as she goes deeper and deeper into the events preceding her disappearance. Meanwhile, a cop is found dead on the opposite side of town, leading to a swirl of questions surrounding a dance club whose staff – which includes Addison – has suddenly gone AWOL. As Roxane struggles to distinguish the truth from the stories people tell about themselves online, it’s clear that the mystery of Addison’s whereabouts is just the beginning.
The Stories You Tell was published by Faber & Faber on 16 July 2019.
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