Welcome to the October 2011 issue of the WKB newsletter.
We'd like to thank Terry Odell for her interview in the last issue of the newsletter. This time we have an interview with Elspeth Antonelli.
The Popular Links from Around the Web feature is back this time. Sorry for the outage last month.
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Until next time...
-- Mike Fleming
Our intention with the newsletter is to provide you with the most popular WKB articles from the previous month and to feature bloggers who have articles in the WKB. We'd love to hear your feedback on what you think should be in the newsletter.
The newsletter is broken out into the following sections:
Featured Blogger -- This section consists of an interview with a blogger whose work ranks among the most popular in the WKB. The questions are from Elizabeth.
Popular Links -- The most popular links from search results.
Getting to Know a Blogger -- The intention of this section is to highlight an author who has articles in the WKB and to showcase their most popular work. The selection is random.
Popular Links from around the Web -- This section highlights the most popular links as determined by popularity around the web and not just the WKB. See the first issue for how this works.
An Interview with Elspeth Antonelli
Elspeth Antonelli is the author of twelve murder mystery games and two mystery scripts that have been performed world-wide. She is also working on a series of historical mysteries taking place in England or Guernsey from 1935 – 1945.
Elspeth, you're one of several writers we know with a background in theater. Could you tell us how theater training helps with writing or helps encourage people to become writers?
I don't know if my theatre background had anything to do with me becoming a writer, but I've certainly been grateful for it more than once. My experience as an actor makes it easier to see the world through each of my character's eyes and I'm sure it helps with my dialogue writing. I'm very aware of rhythms in dialogue, which I'm sure comes from the theatre.
You've written a dozen games for a murder mystery company and two successful scripts. Now you're writing a historical mystery. How did you get your start writing games?
Many years ago I was involved with a theatre group that did audience-interaction murder mysteries as fundraisers and I started writing the plots. I couldn't tell you how many I wrote, but I would guess at least 30! I continued doing this on and off over the years whenever I was asked, until a friend told me about a company that sold murder mystery games over the internet. I've written more than 20 different games for them in the past six years.
How long does it take you to complete a game?
It really depends on the game! Most of my games have at least eight characters that are essential and up to six more that are optional. I have to write a plot that involves everyone, but one that six of the parts could disappear with very little adjustment. Some games are easier to write than others. If I'm writing one that's silly it takes me about two weeks of constant work. One that's very intricate can take longer.
If I've been commissioned to write a game for a particular customer, then I spend some time discovering their particular wants. I wrote one game that had 18 characters! Some of these games take a great deal of research; one customer wanted a game taking place in Regency England, so I did my best to incorporate the history of the time and write clues that sounded as if they were written by Jane Austen. Another wanted parts for everyone in their family and wanted each member's personality reflected in the character they played. I wrote one this past June for the centennial of the library in Mill Valley which incorporated bits of the library's history into the mystery.
Does the game company contact you to write a game, or do you come up with a cool idea and query it to them?
Luckily, I'm in the position of being able to write a game whenever I want. I've written for this company for six years now and I've been fortunate enough to become one of their top-selling authors. The company contacts me if there is a commission to see if I want to accept it.
You're also writing an historical mystery, set in England. How do you fit writing in around your deadlines and commitments for games?
It's difficult! My only real-world deadlines are with commissioned games, so if I have one of those it takes priority. I'm querying agents at a convention next month about my historical mystery. Wish me luck!
Your blog, It's a Mystery, frequently shows the fun side of writing and also treats writing's frustrations with humor. Are you incorporating humor into your current manuscript?
Oh yes, the humour is there! I don't think I could write something that doesn't have lighter moments scattered through it. As a reader, I enjoy books that allow me to smile now and then, so I'm trying very hard to write the type of book I'd want to read.
Was there one specific writer who made you decide to pick up your pen? When did you decide to be a writer?
One specific writer? Hmmm.... I don't know if she led me to picking up my pen, but I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth George. Her book "Write Away" was the first book I bought when I decided to give novel writing a try and I was encouraged to discover we attack writing in the same way. I also worship at the feet of Aaron Sorkin. He writes the best dialogue I've ever heard.
As for deciding to become a writer, there really wasn't a conscious decision. Oh dear, does that sound bad? I did realize some time ago that I've been writing since I was about ten, but I wasn't writing short stories or poems (or not that many, anyway) I was writing plays which I forced my class to act. It helped I attended a very small school! Coming up with plots and characters for murder mystery evenings was very easy for me and the sideways step to writing the games wasn't too tricky. Making the decision to try and write an actual book was scary. Believing in myself has always been a hard thing for me and I'm still learning!
What's the best writing advice you've heard? Your favorite tip for aspiring writers?
The best writing advice I've heard was from Aaron Sorkin who said "I write what I like and what I think my friends would like. If I'm lucky, a bunch of other people want in on the ride." A tip for aspiring writers? Read, read, read.
How can we find you online or buy one of your games?
My writing blog, "It's a Mystery" is at http://elspeth-itsamystery.blogspot.com and I'm on Twitter as @elspethwrites. All my games and my scripts are available through www.host-party.com and several other mystery game sites such as www.mysterygamecentral.com.
Popular Results from the WKB
Getting to Know a Blogger
Anne R. Allen
Anne is a poet and published author in several genres. She also has weekly guest posts from NY Times bestselling author Ruth Harris.
Anne currently has 34 links in the WKB. The top 5 are:
WKB Articles that are Popular on the Web
The Writer's Knowledge Base is the search engine for writers. It contains links to the writing-related articles collected and tweeted by @elizabethscraig. The WKB is developed by Mike Fleming and powered by Hiveword which is his web-based fiction organizer.
Elizabeth Spann Craig is a published author who blogs at Mystery Writing is Murder.
Mike Fleming blogs about technology and writers and tweets at @hiveword.