I Am a Professional Liar

Cut Pinocchio Some Slack

First of all, let’s give Pinocchio a little leeway, okay? He’s not the only masterful fabricator on the planet. In fact, it occurs to me that anyone writing fiction is, indeed, a professional liar.

Oh, sure, you already knew we’re all dreamers, imaginative people who take our craft very seriously — even if it’s something totally out of our regular genre like my Funny Money ,which has absolutely nothing to do with my cop series. But when you get down to it? We pen our stories as if they were actually real, when in fact we simply made them up. We stitched together one falsehood after another until we had a make-believe story. (How cool is that, really?)

Anyway, making things up . . . well, we’re simply creating fantastical lies. Happily, we can’t be arrested for them. I say that because in my Claudia Hershey Mystery Series, police procedurals with an edge, murders happen. Oh, sure. My protagonist, Detective Lieutenant Claudia Hershey, is a crime solver. She’s pretty tough. She’ll engage in hand-to-hand combat if she absolutely has to.

However, to write about her, I have to waltz into the brain of someone else who committed a murder. I have absolutely no experience with killing anyone, nor do I plan to. So I lie about it. I lie about it well enough that the first in the series, In the Spirit of Murder, (which I make available for free) has more than 60,000 downloads and some 260 reviews. People seem to like it. It seems believable to them, and most go on to buy the remainder in the series. And hell’s bells, In the Spirit of Murder certainly seemed believable to me when I was writing it. Occasionally, thinking about how things would happen would jolt me out of a deep sleep, or make it really difficult to even fall asleep. I would become, well . . . fixated.

Bizarre.

Well. I’m not going to delve into the psychology behind all of that. I’m not going to explore too deeply the ability to write dark scenes. It’s all a little weird and once in a while almost frightening. All I’m going to say is give Pinocchio a break. And don’t ask me where my own lies come from, because I don’t know.

It’s probably best I don’t.


The Little Girl Inside the Adult Mystery Author

How Did YOU Grow Up Into What You Are Today?

I don’t know why I’m still surprised, but I frequently get this question from readers: “What were you like as a kid? How did your childhood years influence you to become an author?”

mystery author Laura Belgrave at 9 years oldOddly enough, it’s kind of a tough question for me to answer. But that skinny kid on the left in the top black and white photo? That’s me at the age of nine, with my two sisters to the right. The grown-up in the bottom picture? That’s me, too, but in my 60s. (I cringe to think my hair style hasn’t really changed much. That should tell you something right there.)

Well, that little girl and the older woman are still pretty much the same: imaginative dreamers and persistent storytellers. The first fiction I can remember the little girl writing was something called “The Day the Gravity Left the Earth.” Obviously, I knew little about the full science of gravity, but had learned that it’s what mysteriously keeps us anchored to the earth. Of course, my little girl mind wondered what would happen if it didn’t, and thus my first real story was born. I suppose today it would be called science fiction.

And Then There Was the Jolly Green Giant

jolly green giantI would think about stuff like that when, even younger, I’d push myself around on a little red wagon, pretending it was a car. And yes, I had an imaginary friend who I not so imaginatively pictured kind of like the Green Giant Company’s Jolly Green Giant mascot (only skinnier.) The character was shown on the canned green beans we apparently ate with some regularity. He bounded alongside me when I “drove” my wagon across sidewalks.

More significantly, though? I read a lot of books, including the amazing Nancy Drew series, the Hardy Boys, and the Bobbsey Twins. Those series, of course, were mostly mysteries, which may well explain why I gravitated toward writing the Claudia Hershey Mystery Series as an adult.

And my mother? She raised three girls on her own and didn’t have a lot of money. Even so, for every “A” we got on a report card she’d bring us to a bookstore where my two sisters and I (pictured with me in that photo) could buy a book. Think about that: A book to own forever and ever, not to be returned to a library. I will always love my late mother for that. Always.

All of that is, I believe, the genesis of what turned me into a fiction author. Later came a 17-year career in journalism, lots of freelance work afterwards, and . . . too much more to delve into beyond what I already have on my website bio page.

What about you? How did the child in you influence the adult you grew to be? And what I secretly really want to know? Did you have an imaginary playmate? Come on. Share.

— Laura


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