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Tana French's murder scenes
An interview at Boston Phoenix has a couple things I haven't seen her discuss before, including which of her characters are her favorites, and (drumroll) who's going to be the star of the next book.

I was so excited I went right to skimming through the article and...I am very underwhelmed. LOL. I don't even remember that person. Gotta re-read I guess. After I finish Broken Harbor (which is not really captivating me honestly.) And rereading Likeness. Oy.

ETA: Was twittering about Tana and did a search and apparently there's an extended version of this interview with more questions here:

It made me a little sad actually because it doesn't sound like she'll revisit Rob and/or Cassie anytime soon. :(

That interview made me feel so much better about my outline-less writing method.

Thank you, Tana!!!

I attended a library benefit a few months back with mystery authors Tess Gerritsen, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child and Karin Slaughter. Not a one of them outlined first, believe it or not.

Honestly, I'm not entirely surprised that so many mystery writers don't outline. I'm trying to write a mystery and I almost quit writing just trying to figure out what the murder was going to be yesterday. I can't imagine knowing anymore than I need to going forward. This is stressful stuff, yo.

It really surprised me because I'm such the opposite. I really like having an outline with tons of stuff packed in there (I include dialogue, description, notes to myself about what things and mean and where they'll connect with other themes or scenes later, etc.) and I can't even imagine trying to plot a mystery without having it all written down somewhere/somehow! (Although my guess is that while none of these authors "outline" ahead of time, they do somewhere in the process make sure they've got their ducks in a row with regards to clues, evidence, etc. At least the more procedural ones like Gerritsen, Slaughter, Child.)

I have come to realize that there is likely a big difference, at least mentally, between an outline and notes. I keep notes, things that I don't want to forget, and sometimes that probably looks and acts a lot like and outline, but I actually do better if I just write it. Even if that means jumping ahead in the story. I would be very curious to find out if how many authors don't write in chronological order, or the order in which the novel is read. I know that by writing out of order, I don't have to plot out what happens next because likely I've already written it.

I may do this with the story I just started - jump way forward and write something that's really pulling at me and then write to that end.

There are so many different ways of writing, but I wonder if certain things go together, like if you do outline (or notes) do you also write chronologically...etc. I tend to be a very linear writer (though occasionally with longer stories I cheat and jump forward to write a moment I'm really excited for or very inspired for at that second). That does bite me in the butt often though because then I'm lazy about going back and filling in blank spaces.

And I started writing out of worder because I would obsess about some future scene so much while trying to writing in order that it would kill my enthusiasm entirely. It fascinates me how the process of writing works differently for different writers.

I liked what she said about how her subconscious does a lot of the writing for her. It's the type of thing that can sound really pretentious but only to people who aren't writers, LOL.

Mmm.. I don't think it sounds pretentious. I am no writer, but I think our subconcious is always working, either for or against us, solving our problems or giving us problems, so I think I get what she means and it's cool :) (or maybe it's just that I've been reading too much Freud lately, hee).

It may even be pretentious, but it's true. I've had it happen more than once in different projects. I have a nearly finished fantasy novel that I went back in a mad panic at one point to fix what I just knew was a gaping continuity hole and it wasn't there. Apparently I already knew what I was doing. It was a little freaky though.

I am bummed too. Given how things were left by the end of Broken Harbor I was kind of expecting Moran to be the next narrator, but still I wish she said that she has in mind to come back to Rob and Cassie (or even Sam!) someday. Sigh. I miss them so.

I liked Moran (I remember being surprised the fourth book wasn't about him) and it's interesting that Holly Mackey will have some rapport with him (and my lord, she's already sixteen?) I'm assuming Moran doesn't appear in Broken Harbor, so it's the first time she's wound back to reuse a character from an older book. Also, I couldn't tell from the wording if Tana was being coy about mentioning who the other detective on the case is, that could be a new character or somebody we already know.

Also, I couldn't tell from the wording if Tana was being coy about mentioning who the other detective on the case is, that could be a new character or somebody we already know.

I thought that same thing. It was a very oddly worded statement.

Heh, I assumed it was someone new so she didn't bother to mention. She seems pretty straightforward. Although I do wonder why Holly would go to Moran and not Frank himself? What is Frank doing while all this is happening?

I think it was the lack of straight forwardness that kind of pinged for me. Like she's withholding for a reason. It could just be someone she hasn't made up yet which also seems to fit her MO.

It would be weird if Frank doesn't know anything about it, I guess she just had go to a detective that specifically handles homicide. Moran and Holly may have communicated a lot when she was a witness for the Faithful Place case, so maybe there's an amount of personal trust there.

Thanks for the links, you guys! This was interesting to read. I liked Stephen quite a lot in Faithful Place and I find the character way more appealing than Scorcher to be honest. Also, Holly being 16?? How old was she in FP? 9, 10? Well, this freaked me out a little (lol), but I find it intriguing that she seems to be playing with the timeline in the DMS ‘verse. And of course I can’t help wondering whether Frank will make a guest-star appearance in her next novel. That would be pretty cool IMO, I am dying for her to start reusing her characters this way.

I thought what she said about her writing method was quite enlightening. You know I love to bits her style and she obviously has a knack for the psychological portrait and dialogue, but when she says she has a hard time with structure and that she never outlines… Well, I think it shows in her works. She is a gorgeous writer, but I don’t think plot is her strongest suit and I often struggle a bit with this aspect of her books. But of course she has that gift to make the characters and the situations they are forced to face so vivid and real that I can forgive her almost anything, plot-wise.

And I know it's silly, but I am delighted to learn that Rob is her favorite :)

And I know it's silly, but I am delighted to learn that Rob is her favorite :)

Me too.


I hope Frank comes in too. I'm wondering how much of a presence Holly's going to have actually, cause I have a feeling she'll grow up to be an interesting girl.

I think honestly if I was more into the actual whodunit aspect of what Tana writes I would be a little more disappointed with her novels, which is why I'm able to make peace with some of the very negative reviews she gets. If you're not invested in the characters the actual rhythm of clues and discovery in her books isn't the most exciting and unpredictable. She discusses in this interview that she didn't realize she was writing crime when she was just meaning to write literature with a basis on mysteries, and I love that. There have been a number of articles recently pointing out that genre barriers are kind of breaking down when you have a good amount of fantasy/mystery/what-have-you writers that are good enough to merit that supposedly higher LITERATURE label, and she has been mentioned in a couple of these.

Even though Cassie is probably my personal favorite, I was also kinda ridiculously glad she has that affinity with Rob still.

I find the distinction between 'literary' and genre fiction such an artificial and snobbery one… I don’t even get what is supposed to be considered “literary fiction” these days: the fancy writing, the themes? And it also annoys me that lit fiction is usually regarded as profound and prestigious and somehow superior to genre fiction. Just tell me a good story, I don’t need useless labels, you know? But yeah, I can definitely see why Tana’s works are considered “literary”; I guess it’s the lyrical and introspective tone, the unhurried pace and the fact that she usually subverts some of the mystery genre clichés in some way. No wonder that people who are looking for a conventional whodunit pretty much hate her stuff. lol Still, I think she needs to keep working on the plotty aspects of her novels because, as I see it, it’s her weakest point as a writer. In this regard, I love that she humbly admits that she is still learning and doesn’t consider herself a proper writer yet.

If I had to choose Rob is probably my favorite, but truth is I adore both :) And the fact that Tana is so fond of Rob is another reason that makes me think she’ll revisit him eventually.

Edited at 2012-07-19 11:09 pm (UTC)

I think she did say she doesn't feel like she's done with Rob yet, at some point, and I overlook that she probably said this a long time ago. I would be ecstatic if she got inspired to write Rob and/or Cassie again but I've adopted no expectation of any kind and will just be pleasantly surprised if she ever does. But a squad can only be so big, right? The thing that worries me is that Rob was left in the floater pool and Cassie may or may not get out of Domestic Violence so we can't say for sure either of them will ever be homicide detectives again (It feels more likely that in Tana's mind Cassie does get back to the Murder Squad, but it annoys me that this would happen in spite of her relationship with Sam because it's just not believable.)

It’s not that I expect that she is going to revisit Rob or Cassie any time soon, but I am a little in love with the idea of reading stories about the same bunch of core characters and see how they cross paths and just find out what they did next. So, I suppose I’d love her to write all of them again at some point. Yeah, that would be really cool.

For Rob, I think it might be interesting to see him working a murder as a floater, like, he is requested for a case by one of his former colleagues from the squad and gets more and more involved… and somehow ends up solving it (I know, I know :D). As for Cassie, IDK, I just can’t see her and Sam in a long-term relationship? Maybe I don’t want to? I see them together for a while and Cassie trying really hard to make it work, but maybe because I always thought they only got together because of very specific circumstances and never saw any sort of chemistry there, I have a hard time envisioning them married.

For Rob, I think it might be interesting to see him working a murder as a floater, like, he is requested for a case by one of his former colleagues from the squad and gets more and more involved… and somehow ends up solving it (I know, I know :D).

I couldn’t' agree more. I love me a good redemption arc, but we've seen him succumb to his demons so showing Rob coming back from that could be equally compelling. Also, personally I'd love to see Rob as a really competent, maybe even shockingly competent investigator, as I think his actual skills as a cop are undercut by the events of ItW.

For Cassie, it's much harder because I feel like the stories I think of for her just get darker and darker and I feel bad wanting to do that to her. :(

I am a little in love with the idea of reading stories about the same bunch of core characters and see how they cross paths and just find out what they did next. Yeah, me too. I like that with this series everything is supposed to work as a standalone but there's a lot of subtle continuity and the experience is a little different for people who come in already acquainted with the characters. If she gets to the point of having written a dozen or so books with recurring characters it would be more and more interesting how she braids in and out of different narratives.

The idea you describe with Rob...I feel like this would really be one of the only ways he could be a prominent character again because he might have to do something really impressive to get out of the floater pool. I do think it's possible. I want him to run into a case that he can get very invested in but in a much more positive way than how he felt about Operation Vestal.

I forgot to say earlier--I thought maybe the next protagonist might be the computer guy! He's not part of the Dublin Murder Squad of course, but...I dunno, he is a character.


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