I’m excited to announce the release of my second novel, The Ghost of Heffron College, a supernatural mystery set at a small liberal arts college somewhere in the upper Midwest. I am a little anxious about reviews, though, because my first novel, Asperger Sunset, featured a character with autism, and this book does not.
Will people be angry there isn’t an autistic character? A lot of people follow me because I post information and articles about autism, and Asperger Sunset was unique, especially when it was published, because so little fiction has been written around autistic characters. That’s changing, with the Rosie books and TVs “The Good Doctor,” and that’s terrific – but my new book isn’t about autism.
And yet … one of the things Asperger Sunset did was speak in a clear, concise voice. No small talk, no read-between-the-lines events, nothing that would make it difficult for a person with autism to read and (I hope) enjoy the story.
Ghost of Heffron College is similar. My goal as a writer IS to be clear and concise. My characters rarely engage in small talk, and the plot trucks along pretty quickly.
Writers are often asked about the authors they look up to, the ones who inspire them. I write mainstream mystery, but my favorite writers are those who have a straightforward style, not necessarily in my genre. For example, Stephen King corners the market with his effortless style. I read Christine before I was even old enough to see the R-rated movie, and you knew exactly what was going on. The car loved her owner and was going to kill anyone who came between them.
I’m fond of Dennis Lehane, who can get verbose with his description at times, but the plot always moves forward and he keeps you guessing, not because the characters are being coy but because there are strong arguments to be made for either side of their decisions.
Randy Wayne White started out writing men’s fiction, what he called “duck and f**k” novels – lots of action and plot twists. His Doc Ford novels settle down a bit, letting him fill the story with setting and character, all with clear purpose.
There are best selling authors I dread reading because their books are full of overdramatized situations signifying nothing. Relationships, trying to figure out what the other character means when they won’t come out and say it, that’s not fun for me to read, so I don’t write that way.
It’s a myth that people with autism don’t like to read. Plenty of people with autism enjoy reading – especially girls, who are woefully undiagnosed. They just don’t want to play the same stupid social games when they are reading that they have to navigate in day-to-day life.
So. Even though Ghost of Heffron College does not feature a character with autism, it does have the same author’s voice as Asperger Sunset. My voice. No social games, no weird reader manipulation, just a fun, straightforward mystery with a few twists and turns, and things that go bump in the night.
What more could you ask for?
The Ghost of Heffron College is available as a paperback or Kindle here.
1 thought on “On Writing Well”
Halfway through and loving it! The writing is lean but evocative, spare and yet every detail brings the setting and the characters to life. Beautiful prise wrapped around a compelling and tightly woven storyline. Brava, Carol! Can’t wait to finish, even as I’m savoring the words.