Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Whatever happened to Ahmed?"

I'm plowing through Grey Matters (the second Dulcie Schwartz mystery, sequel to Shades of Grey, at least, if my editor accepts it!) and feeling a bit pressured. Yes, Shades of Grey doesn't come out in this country till September, but still ... according to my contract, this second book is due end of May, which really means May 20, because my agent wants to read it first and I want to have time to respond to her comments before we send it in. And I'm reminded of something the wonderful funny and prolific Donald Bain said during a panel at Malice. The panel wasn't about deadlines or writing series, but as is often the case, the talk moved off topic and Bain ended up talking about writing a mystery before the age of computers. Basically, he was nearly ready to turn in his manuscript when he realized he'd goofed – a character's husband had gone off to Egypt early in the book and never been mentioned again! Well, as Bain said, if this had happened post-word processor, it would've been easy to go back and re-work the missing husband back into the text. But Bain really didn't want to have to retype the entire three-hundred-odd pages. So instead, on the last page, he has one character say to another, "I wonder what happened to Ahmed?"

Needless to say, the editor loved it – and assumed Bain had done it intentionally to set up a sequel.

I haven't found anything like that in Grey Matters, but if you get to the end and someone asks, "I wonder what happened to Ahmed?" you'll know why.

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