It’s a good thing these stories I’m editing are so enjoyable to read, since…
The other night I went to Murder By The Book because the wonderful Carolyn Haines was signing her new mystery, Bonefire of the Vanities. I’m behind in the series, so I now have two Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries beckoning me from my TBR pile. I’m using them as my carrot: When I get caught up with the editing, I can start reading Bones of a Feather.
In my last post, I mentioned how my aunt and uncle were great storytellers who I wanted somehow to weave into my fiction one day. But honestly, I feel like if I could just follow Carolyn Haines around and listen to her tell stories, that would be as humorous and inspiring. If you ever get a chance to meet her, take it.
One of the things she talked about was how it took her so long to give her character Sarah Booth a cell phone. When she started the series, Carolyn didn’t have a cell phone herself, but as the years progressed (well, in book publishing years; only about a year and a half has passed in Sarah Booth’s life, I think), it became implausible not to introduce a little technology. It reminded me of a time Greg and I were talking about an old Mary Stewart novel, and I said a coincidental plot point couldn’t happen in modern times because of technology. But Greg pointed out that the characters could have stumbled over an Internet news story and acquired the same information.
Still, I have a real longing to strip away technology from a novel I want to write. Sometimes characters don’t need to be able to access Wikipedia and Google. They need to think their way out of bad situations–or NOT–without rescue available at the touch of a button. There are only so many times a person can lose a cell phone or forget to charge it…or the Internet can be down… It’s a writer’s delight to put a character in awkward or perilous circumstances and watch as they use their wits and nerve to save themselves. It’s just not the same if OnStar and Siri and Travelocity do all the work.
Although I suppose technology-rich bestsellers prove me wrong daily, I’m still pretty glad Scout Finch couldn’t point a security camera at the oak tree; Juliet didn’t have face recognition software; and Miss Marple never hid a smart phone in her knitting bag. Though I can’t help but wonder what her ring tone might be.