Authors share tips on crafting crime

Rosemary McCracken and Steve Shrott hold their novels at the “Author Talks” lecture at S. Stewart Public Library.
Rosemary McCracken and Steve Shrott hold their novels at the “Author Talks” lecture at S. Stewart Public Library. (CrimeFictionAuthors)

There’s a whole lot more to writing a novel than just the plot, character, and setting.

On March 5, both crime fiction fans and future novelists gathered for a lecture on mystery and crime fiction by Canadian authors Rosemary McCracken and Steve Shrott, held at the S. Walter Stewart library branch.

The two writers are both members of Sisters In Crime Toronto and Crime Writers of Canada, and the audience enjoyed listening to excerpts from their latest novels as well as receiving tips on fiction writing.

McCracken, who has been writing crime fiction and short stories for over 10 years, is also a freelance journalist who wrote her first mystery novel, Safe Harbour, last year.
“It’s become a very popular type of literature,” McCracken said. “Another thing with crime fiction is you have to grab the reader right on, and this is partly because it’s very hard to get published today.”

McCracken said that even though both plot and setting are extremely important aspects in fiction, what intrigues her most are her characters.

“I’m a writer who is character-driven rather than plot-driven,” she said. “I develop my characters first and then develop the plot around them, which takes me quite a long time, because I have to get to know my characters.”

Steve Shrott, who is an award-winning crime and horror writer, has also written two humourous novels. He said flow is one of the greatest things when it comes to writing.

“In crime fiction the interesting thing is that you get to feel the emotions of odd people, twisted people and crazy people, but it’s also kind of interesting because normally we don’t get to experience those kind of things in our normal lives.”