We are delighted to welcome author Sibella Giorello to Omnimystery News.
Sibella recently began a new YA series featuring her adult series character as a teen with Stone and Spark (Running Girl Productions; November 2015 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we asked her to tell us what prompted her to take this approach. She titles her guest post for us today, "The Past As Prologue".
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"What's past is prologue," Shakespeare said, referring to murder in The Tempest.
While devoted mystery readers would certainly agree with The Bard, they'd also add crimes to the list. Extortion, kidnapping, theft, fraud, embezzlement — pick the poison — most crimes have past as prologue, especially those crimes worthy of a good story.
But there's another past that's also prologue in crime fiction: the sleuth's personal history.
My long-running mystery series features a female forensic geologist named Raleigh Harmon. When the first book opens, Raleigh's working for the FBI — minerals act as fingerprints — and taking care of her certifiably insane mother. Several years before this story begins, Raleigh's father, David, has passed away.
Her dad is key.
With each book forward, readers kept asking about David Harmon. I could've added flashbacks and satisfied that curiosity. But I decided instead to explore this territory of past-as-prologue. In Raleigh's adult life, she's devoted to solving crime — a devotion that's often painful, messy, and lonely. Yet she never walks away from the struggle.
One question nagged me: What happened to make her like this?
A lot, it turns out.
Raleigh's past-prologue has yielded three young-adult mysteries, with a fourth releasing later this year. This dual young-and-old series form a kind of parallel universe. Readers already know about her adult life but now they meet her exceptional father who's barely holding together their dysfunctional southern family, and the many strange people who influence Raleigh's early life, for better or worse. And they witness the traumatic events that will be prologue for all that comes later.
This same fertile territory attracted film director Chris Columbus in Young Sherlock Holmes. The movie shows the teenage version of the world's most famous detective. We learn how Holmes acquired his trademark appearance — pipe, hat, and cloak — and how Watson came into his life. All very interesting.
But the director wisely focused on what lies beneath those appearances.
"The thing that was most important to me," Columbus once said, "was why Holmes became so cold and calculating, and why he was alone for the rest of his life."
Ah, yes. Those are the right questions.
Because with crime, the past is always prologue.
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For ten years, Sibella Giorello wrote features for two newspapers in Richmond, Virginia. After having kids, she left daily journalism and started writing fiction. Raleigh Harmon, forensic geologist and sometime FBI agent, kicked her way into existence and has no plans for going away. Just the opposite. In addition to the many mysteries that feature her as an adult investigator, there's also a parallel YA Raleigh Harmon mystery series, which shows her fight for survival and meaning during the brutal high school years. Sibella and her husband Joe now live in the mountains of Washington state.
For more information about the author, please visit her website at SibellaWrites.com and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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