Q & A with USA TODAY Bestselling author Daryl Anderson
How did you come to writing?
Kicking and screaming.
Seriously, for most of my life I’d wanted to write, but somehow life always got in the way. As a single mother, I waited tables, cleaned houses and even spent one tedious afternoon as a telemarketer. Later when I was able to return to university, I became an English teacher. After years of teaching, I returned to school for a nursing degree. As an RN, I found my niche in psych nursing. But working long hours and short staffing soon faded the bloom off that rose. (Though later, I’d use my experiences on the psych ward in the Addie Gorsky mystery, Murder Comes to Elysium.)
Once again I was facing a career change, which is when my husband suggested I give writing a shot.
Being nobody’s fool, I agreed and haven’t looked back.
Is mystery your favorite genre to read?
I read a lot of different genres–horror, true crime, biography, history–but mysteries have been a lifelong favorite. I love a good murder mystery because it fires on all cylinders. There’s the thrill of hunt, but the moral dynamic is equally compelling. You see, murder changes everything. There’s the loss of life, but the act of killing leaves more than a dead body in its wake. Friends and family mourn, but the community is also threatened by this horrible transgression. Although the dead can never be restored, it’s the sleuth’s job to find out the truth. So you see, this is pretty deep stuff. Which is why I sometimes get a little peeved when mystery is described as mere entertainment. There’s a hell of a lot to the genre!
What kinds of books do you like to read?
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of true crime, which, if done well, can have the narrative pace and excitement of a well-constructed thrilled. I’ve also been on a Scandinavian crime binge, and I’m always up for a good horror tale.
What are your writing habits?
I start with my characters, beginning with the big three–the sleuth, the killer and the victim. Even though the plot is pretty fuzzy at first, I imagine scenes and write dialogue. By hearing my characters talk, I get to know them better. Some of the dialogue will wind up in the novel, but even the discarded bits are useful. When I’m ready to crank out a draft, I sit my butt in the chair and start typing. Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? But as Hemingway said, “Writing’s easy, all you do is sit at the typewriter and bleed.”
Which when you think about it, is sort of fitting for a mystery writer.