This is a guest post by author Kay Myhri who is kindly sharing her journey of writing crime fiction for the first time and offering wonderful words of encouragement to beginner writers. If you would like to write a guest post for Protagonist Crafts, don’t hesitate to contact us with your post idea 🙂
If you would like to read more about being a crime writer, you should read my interview with Karin Nordin.
As a lover of Edgar Allan Poe, excellent cheesecake, curling up with a good book and mapping out travel plans to faraway places, Kay Myhri would best describe herself as simply-complicated. There is nothing like the low-key comforts of home, spending hours behind her writing desk in Casa Grande, Arizona, yet travelling to London, England is a dream very much on her to-do list. Tea in hand, tasting crumpets, exploring rock concerts and Jack-the-Ripper tours. True crime bliss at its finest!
She is currently working on her debut mystery novel, a female-led detective story situated in a quiet mountain town, and the experience has opened her eyes to a brand new world. She loves connecting with other writers, sharing encouragement and guidance. Stay tuned for the release of her first novel – it will be a big moment and you can be the first to know by following her Instagram @kay_myhri, joining her Facebook blog site and Facebook group, Kay Myhri’s Fiction Fan Tribe.
We’ve all read those classic ‘whodunit’ tales of murder and mystery and a whole lot of suspense. The unfurling of these mysteries chapter by chapter and the slow answering of pressing questions has been a process I’ve always found quite intriguing as a reader. Over the years, I found myself quickly devouring plotlines that told of true crime, needing to know who did it, how it all unfolded and why the crime happened in the first place.
A well-thought-out crime story, I came to realize from the many books filling my bookshelf, contained characters with in-depth lives, ones with complicated backgrounds and believable motives. The more I read, the more I saw what worked and what didn’t in these books. Was I surprised by the ending? Did an excellent plot-twist catch me off guard? Did it make sense how it all played out? All of these factors went into my assessment and opinion of each story as a whole.
Along with reading, I’ve always had an intense love for writing. Some would say I’m a writeaholic, as behind my writing desk is one of my most favourite places to be, spending long hours slipping away into the worlds I create. So naturally, with all my experience reading crime fiction, tales of mystery and all things Edgar Allan Poe, I gravitated to writing my own stories that held these similar themes. I knew what made a compelling lead character, I understood what was at stake in the solving of a crime, and I could see the importance of pacing clues and revealing evidence in just the right amount of time.
So why not take the wheel and step into the role of crime fiction author myself? Let me tell you, it’s been the most incredible experience working on my first novel, having opened my eyes to a whole new world before me. Being a reader and being a writer go hand-in-hand, but the role of writer has been one that fits so naturally on me, one I knew I was meant to embody. But, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t come with its challenges, which I take as areas to grow and learn and improve my craft.
Writing brings me immense joy – so much so that it’s hard to draw the line most days between the world I live in and the world I create in my trusty word doc. You probably know the feeling, the feeling of losing track of time, the bubbly rush in your stomach, the pulsing of excitement as you get that pivotal scene down on paper. It’s a joy and a thrill to write powerful, thrilling stories, but life, alas, is about balance. Sometimes life’s priorities need to come before writing. Sometimes extra sleep is required and your body needs to move and stretch and be present before heading back into writing.
There are also days when the words just aren’t there. Where your mind feels distracted and you can’t quite tap into the inspiration like you could the day before. When I’m feeling a little less inspired, it usually means I need to recharge my creativity – a sign a break is in order! By stepping away from the story, and doing something else I enjoy, like resting in nature, I can come back to it feeling eager to dive in once more. It’s all a part of the creative process.
The best stories have great settings, interesting plotlines and engaging themes, but my personal favourite is a well-developed, fascinating main character. Characters, like people in real life, require back stories, histories, fears, triumphs, grey areas, and a plentitude of personality. I approach characters in my true crime mystery novel as individuals with a few colourful sides to them. I’ve read many cases of the ‘generalized’ or ‘stereotypical’ detective and I never want to portray my lead detective as so black and white. I never want to put them in a box like that.
My lead is a woman, something I feel very passionate about. Bringing her to life has taken a lot of research, a lot of imaginative thought and quite the case study into what that experience would be like for her. If you can pull from real-life accounts, when developing characters, that is always a bonus. Talking to someone who has lived this life and held this role can help immensely. Receiving firsthand accounts is gold when creating a character who breaks boundaries and subverts expectations. Sometimes an additional perspective can go a long way.
And then the rest comes down to creativity because the story is yours, after all! You can portray your main players however your imagination dictates if done so in an interesting way. My lead is coming to life wonderfully and I cannot wait for readers to spend time with her and all her vibrant quirks.
There are many genres out there these days, many of which have interesting views and captivating plotlines. So why crime fiction? For me, I find it stimulating and thought-provoking to actively work towards solving the mystery. Crime is interesting because it’s the result of some pretty drastic emotions in individuals and it’s fascinating pulling back the layers to try to understand how they got to that place to act in that certain shocking way.
Most times, we can’t fully understand. We can only witness the crime in the story. We can only view the characters for what they are and lean on the evidence presented to give us the facts. Because facts do not lie. Evidence is proof. Crime fiction gives us an equation just waiting to be solved. But often, if you’re looking closely and paying attention, there is a lot more than meets the eye. And what a joy that is! A kind of joy you don’t always find in other genres of storytelling.
My advice to you is to start writing. Wherever you are in your journey, just start there. Notice the types of books you naturally gravitate to when it comes to reading. What kind of stories pique your interest? What kinds of genres feel exciting and hard-to-put-down? That is where your writing practice will begin. Write about those same topics, the ones you already find fascinating and I promise the words will flow naturally from there. We all have a story to tell. It could be your own experiences pressing to be told or it could be an imaginative journey ready to be pieced together in a way only you can do.
Either way, I urge you to tell it, to tell your story. First off, because it will bring you joy, this process of writing it and the moment of seeing your name attached to a compelling story. What an accomplishment it will be! And secondly, because the world is awaiting your story. Yours could be the story someone has been seeking, the one that could mean everything to them. Begin. Write. Enjoy the ride. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. The best things in life usually are.
Stay tuned for my debut crime mystery novel, coming soon! Follow my journey on Instagram and Facebook and let’s write together.