Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why I Write Mysteries - Phyllis Smallman

Editor's Note: Welcome to Phyllis Smallman for today's 'Why I Write Mysteries' Column. Harriet Klausner, one of amazon.com's premier reviewers, says about Sherri Travis, Smallman's sleuth, in Margarita Nights: "She makes the tale fun with her sass, spunk and spitfire sleuthing. " Enjoy!

Why I Write Mysteries.

Phyllis Smallman

When I was asked why I write mysteries it didn’t take me long to come up with a dozen solid reasons. To start with, writing is the most fun you can have with your clothes on and mysteries are the most popular form of fiction in the world. But more than that, I love mysteries, love to read them and love to write them.

The often reluctant and unprepared hero or heroine goes on a quest - often a life and death struggle, taking us with them on an epic adventure to right wrongs, to see justice done or to discover truth.

These stories of crime explore the dark side of human nature; greed, anger, jealousy and even love when it’s beyond control. All of these emotions are at the heart of a good mystery. Cautionary tales, they tell us what happens when our emotions get out of control.

Mysteries hold up a mirror to society, showing it without its make-up on, revealing all its warts. Mental illness, drugs, and the social problems we all have to deal with in our neighborhoods, workplaces and yes, even our families, are examined. We see how ordinary people deal with extraordinary circumstances, how they cope with what life sends them. And all this wrapped up in a puzzle.

Stories about crimes spot-light our fears. Each of us feels as vulnerable to crime as we do to disease. All those little security signs in flower beds are the new crosses over doors to tell misfortune to move on.

And how many of us think human beings are becoming less moral and more violent? Remember the first crime stories appear in the bible. Cain murdering Able, Joseph being sold into slavery, the bible is full of tales of theft and murder and even tales of the slaughter of babies. And you think identity theft is new? Think of Jacob stealing Esau’s birthright.

Human nature flows through crime books, entertaining us, frightening us and even educating us. That’s why I love a mystery! I have a new one out in March, A BREWSKI FOR THE OLD MAN. Holding your brand new book in your hands, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Phyllis Smallman



  1. Great introduction to another author that is new to me. Mysteries are in our everyday life whether we realize it or not.

  2. Likewise. Nice to find more authors, and I think I'm getting hooked on Cozies. Just realized that several of the English TV series I watch with my husband are classified as cozies too, so perhaps I'll get him hooked.

  3. I love this look at exactly why crime fiction is as popular as it is. Whenever I hear someone say, I don't like to read about dark things; it just depresses me, I want to say, No, no! The ordered world of the mystery is an antidote to depression. Here, things make sense.

    Great post. I will hold onto it for a long time.

  4. Very good post. That is a very interesting look into why we write them.


  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.