When I see an interesting looking mystery at the library or bookstore, the first thing I do is flip to the text and read the first page. I want to be engaged immediately, and I know that non-writing readers feel exactly the same way.
And I noticed once, a long time ago, that if the first few lines contain the pronoun ‘I’, I am more likely to be engaged than not. I love first person mystery novels, though the one caveat for me is that in that case, I really have to like the person at the heart of the novel. Makes sense, right? If I’m going to spend that much time listening to someone tell me a story, then I have to like them.
That exemplifies why I think the first person appeals to some of us; we like to feel like someone is telling us a story. Remember before you could read? I do. Books were mysterious worlds to which I didn’t have the key, so someone older had to take their key and unlock the wonder contained within the pages by reading me the story. It wasn’t long before I had the key, of course – I was probably four when I learned to read – but that sense of wonder has never gone away, that desire to have someone ‘tell me a story’.
But I had never been able to return the favor until recently.
When I set out to write BRAN NEW DEATH I knew a lot about the protagonist, Merry Wynter and her life, and I also had only one voice in my head, and that was Merry’s. I knew I had to write it first person, hoped I could drag everyone else along with me, and went on the adventure. I trembled inside a little before it came out, hoping – desperately hoping! – that readers would like it and… so far, so good.
Writing in first person was not without its challenges; it is by definition limited to one viewpoint, but my other series, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, is a one person viewpoint even in third person. That has never seemed like a limitation to me, but rather a fun challenge.
So what do you, as readers and writers, feel; do you like to read first person? Do you enjoy writing first person? I’m curious.
BRAN NEW DEATH
Book 1 of the Merry Muffin Mystery series by Victoria Hamilton, (Berkley Prime Crime)
is out September 3rd!
When Merry Wynter discovered that she inherited a genuine American Castle in the ‘wilds’ of upstate New York, her first reaction was to contact a real estate agent to sell it, sight unseen. Things were a little complicated, what with a lunatic employer making her life miserable. But after losing her job and with the castle not sold, Merry decides to trek to Wynter Castle to see what the problem is.
One barrier to selling is immediately evident; someone is digging giant holes on the property! Merry accuses local Tom Turner of being her late night gopher and warns him to stay off her property, or else, but it happens again. Merry storms out to confront whomever is doing the damage, but doesn’t count on finding a dead man at the bottom of the hole.
What is going on at Wynter Castle and in Autumn Vale? How can Merry convince hunky sheriff Virgil Grace that she is not the one who bashed the victim over the head?
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