Saturday, February 13, 2010


A snow covered village by Nadezhda Stupina--20th--21st Century First of all, I wanted to mention that Cleo's interesting discussion on genre blending continued far into the comments section yesterday. She made some fascinating points about transitioning into a mainstream author if you're starting out as a genre writer. And why is some genre fiction published as mainstream fiction (for example, Janet Evanovich)? Find out in the comments: Genre Blending and Your Character's Love Life.

I have a feeling I’m not going to inspire pity in many of you when I say that it’s snowing here in Matthews, North Carolina. And we might even get five inches, y’all!

Snow here means an obligatory run to the store for bread and milk. My father says Southerners act like we’re preparing for the Siege of Leningrad when we get snow. I did make the pilgrimage to the store…but mainly because I was actually out of bread and milk and knew the shelves would be bare by 10 a.m. once news of the approaching snow leaked out.

Weather has just never been a focal point of my stories before. It’s always been a complement to the plot—I’m fond of hot, sticky, graveside funeral services in my books. Lots of people dressed up and sweating profusely, full of discomfort from the heat and humidity (and possibly because they murdered the dear deceased.)

This may have to change. Lately, I’ve felt assaulted by the weather. It hasn’t stayed in the background like it usually does. It’s been sassily sticking its tongue out at me. It’s making me pay attention.

So I’m mulling over my possibilities.

Weather could

Cut people off from other people. Leave them stranded. This might be a good way to create some conflict. If you are stranded with people? They might get on your nerves.

Cause accidents and health issues (heat stroke and heat exhaustion occur here in the South.)

Change plans. The weather could provide an avenue for changing the course of a story—a canceled flight. An impassable roadway.

Affect pace. Wonder why people in the American South move and talk so slowly? It’s the heat and humidity. It’s honestly even hard to think down here when things really get heated up. Life moves at a slower pace.

Create power outages. Which can be a real bummer. I can think of all kinds of problems power outages could trigger. For my fellow crime writers, blackouts could create the right opportunity for a murder or other crime.

Affect characters’ moods. Too much rain can make you down. Heat spells can result in fights breaking out and tempers flaring.

Be symbolic. Well, we’ve all seen the huge storm that symbolizes a character’s inner turmoil. But there are ways to turn trite symbols on their heads. Maybe the weather is determinedly sunny—like the character determined to plaster a smile on his face during his personal tragedy.

Does weather play a major role in your books, or is it relegated to the background as it normally is in mine?