Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Suspense Stories Everywhere! by Rolynn Anderson

The scenery on the north coast of Kauai is too glorious for words, a range of spiked green mountains falling to bright blue seas edged by miles of warm sandy beaches.  Dazzling beauty.  Makes me want to buy a house overlooking Hanalei Bay, taking in the Bali Hai vista, forever.

So when I saw an OPEN HOUSE sign beckoning me to check out such a house, I did.  Drove my car right up that driveway. Never mind the house's five million dollar price tag.  Though it's much more fun to view this spectacular place in person, here's the house on a quirky YouTube, in two parts.  Wendy's Amazing House

But the house is only one part of my blog topic.  More interesting (since we can't buy the house), is the fact that Wendy, the owner, is the widow of a man who was 'lost' in a desert in California.  Her husband was found much later, dead, in a car, in the Los Angeles river, with his hands chopped off. AND HE WAS A WRITER! The story is being told to us by Wendy's present boyfriend, the real estate agent who is helping her sell the five million dollar house.  Can you believe it?

Even while I drove away from the house and the gobsmacking vista, my novelist brain was awhirl!  Who was this handless man and is there some relationship to who he was and how Wendy became so wealthy? Plots begin forming in my mind.  How about in yours?  The funny thing...I was less interested in the real story than I was in developing scenes and characters that went in directions I controlled.  Is that something peculiar to writers, I wonder?

Once again, with this chance encounter, I learned how truth is stranger than fiction...and how my brain whirls when delicious suspense (and fabulous views) brighten my life.  Question is: based on your experience, do writers experience life in different ways than non-writers (like this need to take real plots in different directions)?

Example for me:  I watched a TV show about savants, including an actor.  These were people who have weird ways of remembering events.  Did I want to learn more about her?  No.  I wanted to develop my own 'savant,' entangled in a suspense plot.  Result:  Lie Catchers, set in Petersburg, Alaska, a heroine with a strange 'filing system.'


Two unsolved murders will tear apart an Alaska fishing town unless a writer and a government agent reveal their secret obsessions.

Treasury agent Parker Browne is working undercover in Petersburg, Alaska to investigate a money scam and a murder. His prime suspect, Liv Hanson, is a freelance writer struggling to save her family’s business. Free spirited, full of life, and with a talent for catching liars, she fascinates Parker.

Trying to prove she’s a legitimate writer who cares about Petersburg’s issues, Liv pens a series of newspaper articles about an old, unsolved murder. When her cold case ties in with Parker’s investigation, bullets start to fly.

Parker understands money trails, and Liv knows the town residents. But he gave up on love two years ago, and she trusts no one, especially with her carefully guarded secret. If they mesh their skills to find the killers, will they survive the fallout?


Angela Adams said...

I think a writer's mind is always "wandering."

Rolynn Anderson said...

Oh, good point, Angela. Must be why, when I go to get something in another room, I've forgotten what it was I needed before I get there :-) But seriously, I get my best ideas for my novels when I'm NOT writing...just going about my daily chores...especially drying my hair. I think we might be wired differently!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Life, and ideas are supposed to be in constant motion, aren't they? Fascinating story.

Jannine Gallant said...

Love, love, love Kauai! It's been a few years since we were there, but I'd love to go back. I like to play the "What if?" game, especially when I'm walking in the woods. What if that stick my dog just picked up is really an arm bone? What if that guy coming toward me on the trail is an escaped lunatic bent on murder? Always fun to keep the plot ideas flowing!

Diane Burton said...

I was so entranced by the video I almost missed the point of your blog. LOL What a bizarre story. I can see you taking off on that and writing your own suspense. I hope you do.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Margo: Yes, I imagine mine as a 'Tilt Awhirl' :-)

Janinne: We go to Kauai almost every year. Love that lush, unspoiled country! Walking...great exercise and a fabulous time to think through ideas!

Diane: Lonnnnngggg video...but what a house, huh? A wonder what her boyfriend must think of where she 'earned' the money for this huge home? See, I'm going right for the drug money angle!

Betsy Ashton said...

Unlike Angela, my mind is always "wondering." I wonder what happened here. Can I make the house a character in a story? Can I see crimes in every rooms? I have no clue how a non-writer's mind works. I've been a story teller since I was eight.

Alison Henderson said...

We've been to Hanalei three times, and there's nothing like it anywhere. It is literally Heaven on Earth. And that house! I'm like you, though. The story is one of those "you can't make this up" stories. Except that we can, and that's the fun of being a suspense writer!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Betsy, you make a great point. I guess I get the idea we're different because people keep saying to me: "How do you do you come up with these stories?" so we writers are unusual. I think your brain is a little different from mine, in that I only started writing my stories when I retired from education. I'm so interested in people who starting writing early, like you did. My head isn't full of characters and stories like I think yours must be. I wrestle my brain to develop my plots and that I have the time to do it!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Alison, I wonder if I could deduct the $5 mil as a writing expense in order to absorb the setting for my next story? You'd support that, wouldn't you...even if the tax people might not :-)

Leah St. James said... What a life. I would have gone in, too. Anyway, it takes very little for my worst-case imagination to take off. Just last night we got a wrong number, and by the time I fell back to sleep, I had imagined the caller tracking us down and murdering us in our sleep. :-)

Leah St. James said...

I need to "like" your comment about the $5 mil writing expense. :-)

Rolynn Anderson said...

Thanks, Leah. I needed someone to step into my darker side with the $5 mil scam. If only!

I get it about the phone-answering thing...I'm afraid to tell people on FB I'm on vacation in case a burglar gets wind of our absence from our home. Not answering the phone at night fits with that sensibility. I don't see myself as a person who's afraid...just awhirl with the possibilities!