Thursday, January 21, 2016

Please Welcome Mystery Author Rebecca Marks

Omnimystery News: Guest Post by Rebecca Marks

We are delighted to welcome back author Rebecca Marks to Omnimystery News today.

Last week we had the pleasure of speaking with Rebecca about her new mystery On the Rocks (Black Opal Books; November 2015 trade paperback and ebook formats) and as a follow-up we asked her to share with us the backstory to writing the book.

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Rebecca Marks
Photo provided courtesy of
Rebecca Marks

When I set out to write a mystery, I began by questioning my sanity! I'd never written one before, and although I love and appreciate a good mystery story, I wasn't sure I had the creative imagination to come up with a tale that was not only plausible but also interesting, exciting, gripping, funny, and fun — you get the idea. I had written a few novels before, but this time I wanted to write a mystery novel that was a page-turner.

I started by reading a bunch of current mystery and suspense novels, and then I read a wonderful book called Writing Mysteries, A Handbook by the Mystery Writers of America, edited by Sue Grafton. Chapter by chapter, this book discusses the preparation, the process, the middle, and the end of a good mystery. Each chapter is written by a different mystery writer (e.g., Michael Connelly, Sara Paretsky, Tony Hillerman, Tess Gerritsen, to name a few), and they cover such subjects as characterization, vivid villains, writing a series character, convincing dialog, pacing, red herrings, and many others.

I loved this book, but I veered off some of the "rules" when writing my own. For instance, I threw out "The Hero Must Be Male" immediately. My heroine is female, and I understand many of her emotions, so I never even thought of writing a male hero. Also, "Write in the First-Person Narrative," past tense. For some reason, On the Rocks appeared to me in present tense. I've had some negative feedback from a reviewer about choosing present tense, but the same reviewer grudgingly admitted that after a while, she forgot what tense it was written in, and it was fine. The conclusion of the Writing Mysteries book is that "some rules can be bent," and I did bend some and when all was said and done, was happy I had.

Because I'm not a person who painstakingly outlines and plots out my books before sitting down to write, I had formulated the basic "bones" of the story and had them in my head. I had distinct ideas about who the "bad guys" were and what their motivation was. No one was more surprised than I when it came to me, 40,000 words into the story, that I'd been wrong about who the murderers were. But that's what happened. And this is what my characters do to me more than I'd like to admit — change, evolve, morph and do exactly what they want to do. Perhaps that's why present tense was more attractive to me — had I written the narrative in past tense, I would have had to stay with original ideas that didn't pan out, or at least I would have had to revise a great deal more.

Having said all that, as I wrote, the plot revealed itself to me, along with the nefarious and not-so-nefarious characters, as well as how they would be apprehended and taken off the street. And the book was complete, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Of course, I had so much fun writing On the Rocks that I knew I couldn't stop at one. My heroine, Dana Cohen, goes through many life transformations in the course of the four-book series. I came to know her as if she were my identical twin. I knew how she thinks, how she reacts, how she interacts with people, and how she collaborates to solve whatever issue there is to solve. And I came to love her and the rest of my series characters, including Charlie the dog.

My devout wish is that others who read the book will fall in love with the characters too (well, at least with the "good" ones). I hope I've created real human beings, complete with their "warts," who are trying to make their way through life and to make the world better for others around them. If you get a chance to read On the Rocks, I hope it makes you laugh and cry and scratch your head. I hope at the end you are looking forward to the rest of the books in the series, all of which are in some stage of pre-publication now. And I'd love to get feedback from you about whether you want to see Dana Cohen and her cast of characters again!

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Rebecca Marks studied creative writing with Joseph Papaleo at Sarah Lawrence College as an undergraduate, and currently studies at the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute with Jimin Han and Patricia Dunn. She shares her life with her AKC champion Belgian Tervuren, Moki, just outside NYC. She plays the harp and the cello, and sings with The Canby Singers in New York City.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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On the Rocks by Rebecca Marks

On the Rocks by Rebecca Marks

A Dana Cohen Mystery

Publisher: Black Opal Books Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)iTunes iBook FormatKobo eBook Format

At forty-two, Dana Cohen has retired from her twenty-two-year career as a detective in the NYPD and moved back home to the rocky cliffs above Long Island Sound to take stock of her life. Her drinking has become problematic, and she increasingly relies on it as her life becomes more complicated.

Her estranged husband, Pete Fitzgerald, surprises her at her house, armed with flowers and promises to finally be faithful. Although Dana sends him packing, when he's later accused of murder, she jumps to his defense. He swears he's innocent, and she wants to believe him. But with all the evidence pointing directly at him, reasonable doubt is a very scarce commodity.

On the Rocks by Rebecca Marks


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