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Friday, February 8, 2013


We’re joined today by award winning mystery author and former newspaper reporter W.S. Gager. Her third book, A Case of Hometown Blues, was a finalist in the 2012 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. A Case of Volatile Deeds, the fourth book in her Mitch Malone series about a crime-beat reporter always on the hunt for the next Pulitzer will be out this February. Learn more about W.S. and books at http://wsgager.com and her blog. – AP 

Killing people in books keeps me from killing people at work

A friend has a tag line on her email signature that says: “Writing is cheaper than therapy.”  That is so true for me. A couple of years ago I was working at a real estate office that was suffering some growing pains.  It was splitting and individual realtors needed to decide if they were going to stay or go to the other office. The realtor I worked for decided to stay.

With the office staff being cut in half, the support staff would be reduced and while I worked for a specific agent and just followed him, the other people weren’t so lucky. It was everyone for themselves and the back-stabbing began. It went on for two months as everything sorted itself out but was sad to watch three people, who were friends, dissolve.

I hated working in that atmosphere. What I found really helpful was writing about horrible people. I created a battle-ax of an office manager at a real estate office who got to be horrible to anyone she didn’t want to talk to.

I believe that was the inner me dying to bang some heads together at my real job. It really helped my stress level at work to be able to have her be mean to my main character, Mitch Malone, as he came to ask questions about the explosion in the office.

There were days I didn’t want to go to work. The four hours were shear torture, but the emotion I channeled in the next four hours as I wrote A Case of Volatile Deeds was worth it in hindsight.

Not only did I get a great book out of the turmoil, but the writing also helped me deal with the emotional stress and be nice to everyone while I was there. I knew I could write all the nasty things I wanted to say when I got home.

If I hadn’t been writing, I might have gotten fed up with the back biting and said something I might have regretted. I was able to hold it together until everything settled and keep working with at least somewhat of a cool demeanor. If they only knew that when I came home, my characters take on murderous intentions. In the beginning of the book, bodies start piling up fast. Could it be that I was killing off my coworkers? You will have to read the latest Mitch Malone Mystery and let me know what you think. Have you ever wanted to kill somebody (or seriously maim someone) and used a pen or keyboard to do it?

A Case of Volatile Deeds:
Mitch finally scores a weekend dinner with a cute receptionist, but true to his reporter instincts an explosion in a high rise office building makes him stand up his date as he runs for an exclusive.  When he investigates, he learns his date is the only casualty in a botched robbery at a real estate office. When femme fatale Patrenka Petersen returns, Mitch learns that much of what he knows about his date and her work aren’t what they seem. His world continues to twist when the police captain asks for his help and a city hall informant is found floating in the river. Mitch must keep his head down or a cute dog with a knack for finding dead bodies will be sniffing out his corpse.

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Rose Anderson ~ Romance Novelist said...

Life gives such a nice touch of realism! Enjoyed the post. Best Luck.


WS Gager said...

Rose: Thanks so much for stopping by. It is amazing what we channel into our writing. Scary if people knew!

Lois: Thank you so much for letting me join the book club today. It is such an honor because I love your books!
W.S. Gager on Writing

Morgan Mandel said...

Harmless way to vent, as long as you change the names and descriptions of the bad guys!

Morgan Mandel

Patrick O'Scheen said...

Nothing like putting someone in a story and killing them off!
Fun stuff!
Author gets happy along with the readers.

WS Gager said...

I always find sex change operations usually do the trick! Thanks for the advice Morgan. Just got picked up GIRL OF MY DREAMS and can't wait to start it.
W.S. Gager on Writing

Lisa Orchard said...

Great post W.S.! Writing is a great way to work off the stress of dealing with belligerent personalities! We bite our tongues but our characters don't have to and there's no negative fallout for us when our characters fight back.

WS Gager said...

Patrick: You have no idea what satisfaction it can give...

W.S. Gager on Writing

WS Gager said...

Lisa: I think I sense a few dead coworkers or family in your history? Thanks for stopping by!
W.S. Gager on Writing

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy,
Your new books sounds fantastic! Can't wait to read it. Peg

WS Gager said...

Peg: Thank you. Please let me know what you think or if you would be so kind as to leave a review, that would be great!
W.S. Gager on Writing

Maryann Miller said...

Oh, could I relate to this. A few people who made a work environment hell for me ended up as nasty characters in some of my books. LOL

WS Gager said...

Nice to know I'm not alone, Maryann.
W.S. Gager on Writing

Joselyn Vaughn said...

There are a few individuals who are "helping" me with my current WIP. It Isa big stress relief.

J Q Rose said...

Oh,yes, venting with your pen and paper is much better than strangling your co-workers. I wonder what a psychologist would say about this. I love Mitch Malone and this series. Best wishes with your new release!

susan furlong bolliger said...

I do the same thing in my writing. And,I never run out of 'real-life' material to incorporate into my fiction. Fun post, WS. Thanks for hosting, Lois!

WS Gager said...

Joselyn and JQ: Thanks for stopping by. You two of all people know how truly murderous I can be. Thanks for the comments.
W.S. Gager on Writing

WS Gager said...

Susan: Funny how the wealth of material just keeps coming. Enjoy your therapy!
W.S. Gager on Writing

Carolyn J. Rose said...

I worked for 25 years in TV newsrooms and saw a few conflicts grow to the punching stage, but never the killing stage. Deadlines mean stress, and I wrote my three TV newsroom mysteries (now out of print) to work some of that off and take steps I couldn't take in real life and expect to stay out of jail. A decade ago I took up substitute teacher and discovered a new kind of stress and a whole new cast of characters to fictionalize.

Diane Kratz said...

I find I write some of best scenes when someone really ticks me too. I love writing villains! They are so much more interesting to me.

In real life, I am a therapist and writing is my homework to relive stress!

Love the post!
Diane Kratz

Anonymous said...

Writing what you know. Thare's nothing better.
Richard Brawer

Tess Grant said...

Loved this! Writing can really help relieve stress. On the other hand, sometimes it causes stress too!

Mitch is such a keeper--however you get the inspiration for his exploits.

Cindy Sample said...

I think mystery writers are the most well balanced people in the world because we have an easy way to eliminate any discontent with others.

This book sounds terrific. I'm on my way to Amazon.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

What a great post! I've used people I didn't like or had a problem with as characters too. Fortunately, they never recognize themselves.

WS Gager said...

Carolyn: I know the stress in a newsroom. Talk about tempers...but you are right it is nothing like a classroom.

Diane: Our emotions do drive our writing or at least mine.

Richard: Writing what you know adds lots of flavor to the writing.

Tess: I'm so glad you stopped by and shared! Thank you!

Cindy: You maybe on to something...thanks.

Marilyn: I hope no one recognizes themselves but each character is an amalgamation of several.

Thank you everyone for your great comments and sorry I had to duck out overnight but had to leave town suddenly. All is well now.

Thank you Lois for letting me share your bit of cyberspace!
W.S. Gager

Anonymous said...

Agree 100% with Marilyn Meredith! How we get rid of our frustrations and angers without any real harm - and the fools never know it!!! How smart are we!!!! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

WS Gager said...

Thelma: Thanks for the comments. Good thing I can't be charged for murderous thoughts!
W.S. Gager on Writing