The ‘Joker’ in the Suspense Game

Because of the ‘Tallent & Lowery’ series, I’ve been asked if humor is difficult to write into a character meant for the ‘darker’ genre of suspense. The easiest answer is: It depends on the day. Sometimes that sarcasm comes easily; other times I just want someone to wield a knife and get it over with. As an avid reader, however, my favorite characters in literature share the same talent – humor. Sherlock Holmes and his witty ways. Odd Thomas, dealing with the depths of evil Continue reading →

Filling a Bucket — and Lighting a Fire

 Sue Rodriguez I have just returned from a whirlwind trip to Europe, partly to research settings for my new historical espionage novel. While I’ve been away, the #icebucketchallenge hit North America. What has been fascinating to me about this social media phenom is two elements. First, the fact that everyone wants to do the challenge (perhaps because the world news has been so terrible, and this is a positive act that we can control). Secondly, that ALS is suddenly becoming a disease on everyone’s radar. Continue reading →

Prime Your Aha! Moments

You know the feeling: You’re at an impasse with a character or plot point and you can’t seem to dissolve it. You’re frustrated, perhaps desperate. It’s going nowhere, but you’re on a deadline. You’ve run out of ways to spur your muse. Consider this: Don’t work so hard. The less you push, the better your chances of getting what you need. Your brain requires some space to do its best work. Isaac Asimov realized this. Whenever he experienced writer’s block, he knew it was useless Continue reading →

How to Write About State-of-the-Art Tech Before it’s Invented

Truth isn’t just stranger than fiction — it’s faster. In a spy novel I wrote in 2007, I created what was then a futuristic million-volt stun gun disguised as an iPhone. Today, you can buy a 3.5 million volt iStun online for $30. A covert operations officer in the same novel deployed a miniature unmanned aerial vehicle (a.k.a. drone) that in real life could be seen only on drawing boards, at least in declassified circles. In 2009, a German company offered a similar drone to Continue reading →