I have a curious nature and have always played “What If?” games in my mind. I like discovering secrets and that’s undoubtedly what drew me to the mystery genre when I was a child. I went from Carolyn Keene to Daphne DuMaurier to my mother’s books, some written by Mickey Spillane. (Mother tore off the covers of her paperbacks if they were too lurid for my young eyes.)
Sin and shame intrigued me. I heard about sin in the little Presbyterian Church of my youth. I was sometimes frightened by the preacher’s words, especially “If your name isn’t written in the Book of Heaven, you are lost!” Predestination. I remember thinking that since I’d told a lie to my mother, I would be consigned to hell. Not a good feeling at age ten.
But fear didn’t keep me from trying to wipe out sin. In third grade, I planned to be a missionary—perhaps to Africa, where I would teach the Savior’s word. Two years later, having given up saving souls, I assumed the mantle of Nancy Drew. I was a detective, determined to bring imaginary culprits to justice. I lurked around outbuildings and trees on our farm, spying on the hired men, creating mysteries in my mind.
Why mystery? The genre is full of surprises, especially for the writer.