Anne Frasier: Five Things I Learned Writing The Body Reader
For three years, Detective Jude Fontaine was kept from the outside world. Held in an underground cell, her only contact was with her sadistic captor, and reading his face was her entire existence. Learning his every line, every movement, and every flicker of thought is what kept her alive.
After her experience with isolation and torture, she is left with a fierce desire for justice—and a heightened ability to interpret the body language of both the living and the dead. Despite colleagues’ doubts about her mental state, she resumes her role at Homicide. Her new partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, doesn’t trust her sanity, and he has a story of his own he’d rather keep hidden. But a killer is on the loose, murdering young women, so the detectives have no choice: they must work together to catch the madman before he strikes again. And no one knows madmen like Jude Fontaine.
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1) Choose a genre and stick with it
I actually learned this before writing The Body Reader, but bear with me because it does come into play again. Over the past thirty years I’ve written in almost every genre out there. One of the only ones missing from my résumé was science fiction, so when I received an exclusive invite to be part of a new mind-blowing enterprise for post-apocalyptic fiction, I jumped at the chance to dilute my brand even more.
2) Don’t get involved in startups
I need a tattoo of the above. Several years ago I was the launch author for a new publishing house called Quartet Press. My book was edited and formatted, the cover designed. I’d begun online promotion when I got the email announcing the plug had been pulled on Quartet Press. At that point I promised myself I’d never get involved in another startup. So when I was invited to be a part of the post-apocalyptic project, I jumped in with both feet. I had 25,000 words of a 40,000-word story done when that startup crashed and burned.
3) Never try to switch the genre of a written story
I thought it would be easy to remove the post-apocalyptic from The Body Reader. I’d at least set my tale in a present-day city. The main characters were detectives, people were being murdered, crimes investigated. There were dysfunctional families and broken heroes; it was a dark story. All I had to do was remove the post-apocalyptic stuff and get back on track to straight crime fiction, my genre. I didn’t fully understand that genre tone is deeply embedded in the writing, and this story oozed post-apocalyptic tone. An easy switch was impossible. Nothing worked. In the end, only 5,000 words survived.
4) Things no longer on the page still leave echoes
Even though I would never attempt switching the genre of a story again, I think the ghost of the original post-apocalyptic tale gives my straight crime fiction a slightly skewed feel that I like.
5) Don’t be tempted by projects that don’t advance your career
Over the last several years I’ve allowed myself to be tempted and distracted by all different kinds of projects that have nothing to do with what I consider my real career, which is crime fiction. I’ve written memoirs. I’ve written romance with a cat’s POV. I’ve written short stories about vampires and zombies and mermen and babies who write books while still in the womb. Some were things I felt compelled to do, such as the memoirs. Some were things that offered a fun distraction from my real job—writing crime fiction. All of those unrelated projects confused my core crime-fiction readers, so my plan going forward is no startups, no distractions and no temptations. Stick to my genre. So if you have a startup in need of someone to write a story about a two-headed naked mole rat that saves the world, let’s talk.
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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Anne Frasier has written twenty-five books that range through genres such as thriller, mystery, romantic suspense, paranormal, suspense, and memoir. Writing as Theresa Weir, she began her career in 1998 with Amazon Lily, a cult sensation and winner of multiple awards.
She has won the Daphne du Maurier Award for paranormal romance, and a RITA for romantic suspense. Her first memoir, The Orchard (Theresa Weir), was a 2011 O, the Oprah Magazine Fall Pick; #2; on the Indie Next List; and a Librarians’ Best Book of 2011. Her latest novel, The Body Reader, is out from Thomas & Mercer on June 21, 2016.