Readers ask where we get our ideas. I’ve told some about how a whole book was driven by a poor lady I first met in a low security mental hospital in Hastings, Minnesota many years ago and later, updated by a news article I read about an eighty-something murderer in Wisconsin who murdered her sister and brother (likewise in their eighties) before she disappeared without a trace. The book was my first and is not published although I’ve promised myself that I will revise it again now that I’m a decently-developed writer. Still, if you read the book, you might not see how investigation of what drives these off-kilter people ended up as a book about a Sheriff ready for retirement investigating his lifelong friends.
My recent trip to Indiana for the Midwest Writers Workshop, reminded me of how fascinating these connections can be. I was very interested in the mystery writers at the conference, the agents, and also Daniel Jose Older.
The current book I’m working on is Young Adult so I’ve spent a fair amount of time reading Young Adult authors. His critique of my work was interesting and very much from a literary point of view which I find as valuable as those who focus on the marketability of a project. He also answered some questions that I still had about YA writing. Thank you Mr. Older! The truly fascinating side of him as the creator of Salsa Nocturna and as a writer, was the glimpse that he gave us of his inner self in his presentation on the last night of the conference.
It started with gallows humor. He gave us punch line after punch line about his experiences as an Emergency Medical Technician in New York. We laughed and laughed although he warned us that our laughter would end. And it did. The horror of what he experienced wasn’t only in his words. It was in the way he leaned over the podium and looked at memories only he could see. We were enthralled.
Give Salsa Nocturna a read. That mysterious emotional sharing that I’ve always loved in the writings of authors like Margaret Atwood is there.