One of the best ways to learn about the craft of writing is to talk with other authors. We all have different ways of creating our work, so hearing how another author works always gives me new ideas.
Ellen King Rice writes mysteries set in the South Puget Sound area of the Pacific Northwest. She is a wildlife biologist and is happiest when out in the woods on a fungi hunt with her camera.
Ellen has a new book out, The Slime Mold Murder, and as one the advance readers, I found it witty and the series of events are well-plotted. The characters are engaging, and their stories emerge as the plot unfolds. She has agreed to talk about her characters in this book, and how she came to know them.
CJJ: Tell us about Dylan. When did he first come into your mind as a protagonist?
EKR: Dylan was in my first book, The EvoAngel, as a precocious eleven-year-old with impulse-control challenges. He channels my own life as someone who speaks boldly and often irritates others.
CJJ: This book has number of credible characters. Which character was most difficult to write, and why?
EKR: Mitchell and Mark are a gay couple, but I didn’t want to write them as caricatures. I spent a great deal of time trying out descriptions to come up with two men who are individuals in their own right but collectively a pair who would rattle the conservative county commissioner.
CJJ: Which character do you identify with on a personal level. Why?
EKR: Mari reminds me of myself at eighteen. I was keen to explore romance but terribly inept.
CJJ: Do you create an outline for structuring a character arc, or do you wing it?
EKR: Authors are often divided into the pantser or plotter groups. Some of us are plontsers – a lovely hybrid who think they have a plan but are really making it up as they go along. No kidding. I do start with a plan and then I get distracted with new ideas.
CJJ: Do you think your characters or events drive the plot? How are your characters shaped by the events they live through?
EKR: For me it is the events that drive the plot and the characters respond, hopefully growing as they take action.
CJJ: Are there any final words you would like to say regarding the characters and events of The Slime Mold Murder?
EKR: The inclusion of the sclerotia in the story is meant to be inspirational. Slime molds can enter a dry phase where they do not grow. This phase can last for years, but when conditions improve, there can be a vibrant response. I so hope that we humans can move past months of a global pandemic to build a better world where more of us thrive.
Ellen, thank you for taking the time to talk about how you approach the craft of writing and creating your wonderful characters.
If you are curious about this book, The Slime Mold Murder is available at Amazon as a paperback, and will be released for the Kindle on June 24th, 2021: The Slime Mold Murder.
About Ellen King Rice:
I am a wildlife biologist who suffered a spinal cord injury many years ago. Although my days of field work are over, biology continues to intrigue me.
I am fascinated by sub-cellular level responses to ecosystem changes. I also like the predictability of animal behavior, once it is understood.
A fast-paced story filled with twists is a fun way to stimulate laughs, gasps and understanding. I work to heighten ecological awareness. I want the details and your new insights to remain in your thoughts forever.
You can find me and my books at www.ellenkingrice.com
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Credits and Attributions:
All photos copyright 2021 Ellen King Rice. All images used in this post are the work and intellectual property of Ellen King Rice. She has kindly given me permission to use them in this post.