Writing Tips Part 3 from Author, Augustus Cileone

August 29, 2015

I'm thrilled to welcome back author, Augustus Cileone to my blog today for his third post in my writing tips series. Today he will be discussing the allure of mysteries, a topic I find quite fascinating myself. Although this isn't a straight writing tips-type of post, I think it does speak to the issue of what draws readers, particularly to the mystery genre.


In case you forgot, here's a little bit about my guest: 




Augustus Cileone won the Dark Oak Mystery Contest sponsored by Oak Tree Press, for the novel, A Lesson in Murder, about homicides associated with a Philadelphia Quaker school. His second novel, Feast or Famine, a satire, deals with a traumatized man dealing with his Catholic Italian American upbringing in the 1960's and 1970's. His latest novel, Out of the Picture, published by Sage Words Publishing, is a mystery loaded with movie references, and deals with social outsiders. He has been honored for his writing by Annual Art Affair, Hidden River Arts, the annual Writer’s Digest writing competition for two plays, The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, the Montgomery County Community College’s Annual Writers’ Club Poetry and Fiction Contest, Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards, and the Annual StoryPros International Screenplay Contest.  His short stories appear in the anthologies entitled South Philly Fiction and Death Knell V, and in the literary periodical Schuylkill Valley Journal.



And now, Mr. Cileone: 


The Allure of a Mystery


Many people have heard the phrase, “Everybody loves a mystery.”  William G. Tapply, who wrote The Elements of Mystery Fiction, and is the author of the Brady Coyne mystery series of novels, stated in the March, 2007 edition of The Writer magazine the following:


What sets mystery novels apart from other types of fiction and makes them particularly appealing to fans are their whodunit puzzles. Mystery readers want to detect clues, to sniff out red herrings … to finger suspects. In other words, they want to play detective.  


The derivation of a red herring, which is where the writer leads the reader astray, comes from the English practice of dragging a red herring along a path to fool hunting dogs.  I don’t know why anyone would want to fool hunting dogs, but I guess you would have to ask the British to find out. Mr. Tapply goes on to say how readers like to match wits with the sleuth of the story, but the readers will be disappointed if they figure out the mystery before the main character does. You may get satisfaction from guessing some parts of the mystery correctly, but you get a charge out of a story that fools you, and then you look back and say, oh yeah, there were the clues, and that was clever how I was fooled. I still can’t believe I didn’t guess the ending of The Sixth Sense.


But I think the appeal of the murder mystery goes even further.  Patricia Cornwell, one of the biggest best selling mystery novelists, said in the same edition of The Writer:


"I cannot fully explain my fascination with violence, but I suspect it has to do with my fear of it … my writing is dark, filled with nightscapes and fear. Isolation and a sense of loss whisper throughout my prose like something perpetually stirring in the wind.  It is not uncommon for people to meet me and find it incongruous that I write the sort of books I do."


I think what she says speaks to the old idea about why we want to look away from a car accident, but can’t. We are both drawn to and repelled by the horrible. We want to understand, and are fascinated by, the killer who crosses the boundaries of society. But, at the same time we desire safety from and ignorance of terrible acts.


Patricia Cornwell’s quote also addresses the concept of our double nature. Outwardly she may seem the last person to deal with violence, but inwardly she can explore the dark side of a character in her writing. This concept brings up the theme of surface appearance versus inner reality. A big influence on me was Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs.  A brilliant psychiatrist, very sophisticated culturally, is in fact a murdering cannibal. This duality may also explain the popularity of the serial killer character Dexter in the books and TV show featuring him. He appears to be a normal person working at his forensics job, and is a dedicated brother. In fact, he is a serial killer. The extra twist is that he is someone meting out justice against vicious killers. 


On a personal level, I became interested in mysteries through films. My father took me to see Alfred Hitchcock movies. I especially liked Psycho, so I became interested in exploring the dark side of characters. I then started reading Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen novels. I love a complicated mystery because it is fun to try and solve the puzzle and be surprised by the twists in the plot. Two movies that influenced me in this way are The Last of Sheila (written by Anthony Perkins of Psyhco fame and Stephen Sondheim) and the original Sleuth, based on the Anthony Schaffer play. Wanting to explore complex stories is probably why I was addicted to the TV series Lost, and loved the 1960’s TV show The Prisoner, which may be the two most enigmatic shows ever written.


Some classify the mystery as some type of second rate genre. I think this criticism is a disservice. The very act of wanting to find out the solution to mysteries is basic to humans:  it takes place in science, mathematics, social sciences, psychology, in fact in just about every discipline. People vary on how much they thrive on answering questions and solving problems in their lives: some love it, doing crossword or picture puzzles, while others find questing after answers very taxing. But, we can’t escape it. Mystery stories at the very least provide an entertaining outlet for this primal drive; at the most, they help us to explore complex themes of what it is to be human.



***


Want to check out some of Mr. Cileone's brilliant work? His newest release, OUT OF THE PICTURE was released in February! You can check it out here



From the Amazon page: 




Vince Singleton, a writer, part-time English professor at Philadelphia Sacred Covenant University, and huge movie fan, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He witnessed the accidental shooting of his wife by a policeman during a robbery. Vince, however, suspects that her death was intentional. Now, an old friend of his is found dead amid unusual clues. Vince helps the lieutenant working the case, despite his wariness of policemen. Faculty members associated with animal abuse are murdered and strange items are discovered near the bodies. Vince determines that the clues refer to movies, and, with the help of his daughter, his journalist brother, and a female professor, tries to find the killer before another person is taken … out of the picture.

 

Things I Want You To Know About

August 19, 2015

It's me! Just little old me. I just have a couple of things to bring to your attention. Then next week I'll have another awesome writing tips post for you!


This author is Karli Rush:



Don't know her. Never met her. Never had any dealings with her at all. But I saw a Facebook post floating around about her yesterday. It touched me in my core. Her husband just died suddenly. He was the primary income in the family. They have two children. One is Autistic and the other is on dialysis awaiting a kid...


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Writing Tips from Author, Tony Knighton

August 11, 2015

I am super excited to welcome fellow crime fiction author, Tony Knighton to my blog today with his 7 Suggestions for Writing Crime Fiction. Tony is not just a Philadelphia resident like myself, he is a Philadelphia firefighter and a former Marine! (Thank you, Tony, for your service to this great nation and our great city!) I actually read about Tony in my local, neighborhood paper and reached out to him to see if he would do a guest post for me. He graciously agreed. Here's a little more abou...


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Writing Tips from Author, Marielena Zuniga

July 16, 2015

I'm excited to welcome Marielena Zuniga to my blog today for the writing tips segment. She'll be talking about using meditation to help your writing. I personally really loved this post because I have a lot of trouble focusing and staying on task.



Here is a bit about Marielena:


Marielena Zuniga is a creative writer and award-winning journalist of more than thirty-five years. She has been a staff writer for newspapers and magazines and worked in public relations in corporate and nonprofit enviro...


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Writing Tips by Author, Sandra Carey Cody

July 2, 2015

I am thrilled to welcome author Sandra Carey Cody to my blog this week with a fantastic post about plotting one's novel. Sandy is an amazing writer and a wonderful person. I hope you'll enjoy this post and then check out some of her work! 


Before we begin, here's a bit about your host:


Sandra Carey Cody was born and grew in Missouri, surrounded by a family who loved stories, whether from a book or told on the back porch on a Sunday afternoon. She attended Washington University in St. Louis, mov...


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Writing Tips by Author, K.A. Libby

June 25, 2015

This week I welcome author, K.A. Libby for a guest post in my writing tips segment. Here's a bit about Ms. Libby:



“Beware the Sleeping Dog” is Karla Reidinger’s (k.a. libby) first novel. It hibernated as a tiny germ of an idea for years before she actually started writing the manuscript. Much like George Bernard Shaw's quote above she had an idea. She imagined its growing into a novel. She studied her favorite authors and learned how they developed the goals, obstacles and stakes for the...


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Writing Tips Part 2, Author Augustus Cileone: Using Your Experience in Fiction

June 18, 2015

I'm thrilled to welcome back author, Augustus Cileone to my blog today for his second post in my writing tips series.


In case you forgot, here's a little bit about my guest: 




Augustus Cileone won the Dark Oak Mystery Contest sponsored by Oak Tree Press, for the novel, A Lesson in Murder, about homicides associated with a Philadelphia Quaker school. His second novel, Feast or Famine, a satire, deals with a traumatized man dealing with his Catholic Italian American upbringing in the 1960's and 19...


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Writing Tips from Author, Augustus Cileone

June 11, 2015

I'm thrilled to welcome author, Augustus Cileone to my blog today for my writing tips series. Gus is a member of my local SINC chapter (Sisters in Crime). I can tell you that he is smart, interesting and accomplished. I'm excited to share his writing tips. Gus will be here today talking about building characters and next Thursday, he will return to discuss using your own experiences in fiction writing.


Here's a little bit about my guest: 




Augustus Cileone won the Dark Oak Mystery Contest sponso...


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Respecting Your Process

June 9, 2015

My Daughter's drawing of a "Plantster" - which is what I am: a cross between a Plotter and a Pantster

Get it? Plotter + Panster = Plantser? Pants with a Plant growing out of them. Tee hee


Last year, I posted about this awesome blog post I had discovered by author, Rachel Aaron wherein she proposed a new way to increase word count. You can read the post that I wrote here. (The bit about Aaron is all the way at the bottom, so scroll down.) What I had gotten out of her post was that if you spend a...


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Authors United Against Child Slavery

May 20, 2015

Psst . . . Please check this out. Remember that Finding Claire Fletcher t-shirt fundraiser I did last year? It was for this very same organization: Operation Underground Railroad. Now these two super awesome authors, Laura Johnston and Donna K. Weaver are going all out to mobilize the writing community in order to raise money for O.U.R. Please check it out. By the way, earlier this year, the Elizabeth Smart Foundation merged with O.U.R. Elizabeth Smart has long supported O.U.R. and I hope you...


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About Me


Lisa Regan I am a crime/suspense writer, author of Finding Claire Fletcher and Aberration available now from Sapphire Star Publishing. I released my third novel, Hold Still in March 2014 which has been picked up by Thomas & Mercer. This Blog is also available at www.lisalregan.blogspot.com for Blogger Folks!

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