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The Sirens of Suspense




Deirdre Verne is a college professor and an active college blogger. Deirdre’s interest in green living inspired her to create an off-the-grid character who Dumpster dives her way though the A Sketch in Time mystery series. The first book, Drawing Conclusions, is available in February 2015. A member of Sisters in Crime, Deirdre’s short stories appear in all three New York chapter anthologies – Murder New York Style, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and Family Matters.


Find Deirdre on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.



The best part about getting published is that I no longer feel uncomfortable asking an expert in a field I’m unfamiliar with for an interview. In fact, it’s so much easier to request an interview as a published author; I wonder why I didn’t just lie about being published when I was unpublished.

This has come in handy as I explore the lifestyle of the extreme ‘green’ consumer, a major theme in my books. Am I green? Well, I do recycle, but I’m not making the cover of Mother Earth News anytime soon. To flesh out characters, I need a thread of truth to work worth. I’m happy, or rather thrilled, to add the bells and whistles, but I like to start with something concrete. It doesn’t have to be a hard and fast fact, like only 10% of all water bottles in the United States get recycled. (I just made that up.) Sometimes, it’s the way the interviewee describes a fact or reacts to a question. As much time as I spend doing research online, I find it’s infinitely more satisfying to have a face-to-face conversation with a knowledgeable person.

For the second manuscript in my Sketch in Crime series, I figured who better to interview than the guy that runs the multi-million dollar recycling center in my town? He must know everything about going green. I was halfway out my front door when I realized I would need to make an appointment with the center.

Not so fast. My first call to the recycling facility ended with a suggestion that I accompany a kindergarten class on a tour. This was not what I had in mind. I patiently explained my situation. No, I’m not writing a non-fiction book about recycling. Yes, it’s a mystery. Yes, I understand the recycling center is an unusually site for a story. But, something clicked, and within seconds my call was redirected. The next week I was lucky enough to meet with the center’s manager for a highly educational, private, behind-the-scenes look at the world of garbage.

About fifteen minutes into the tour, I stopped the educational portion and asked, “What I really need to know is how many ways you can die in a recycling center.” And that’s when it really got fun. You’d be amazed at how many bizarre, and potentially dangerous thoughts the average person has at work, especially a work site that requires visitors to wear a hard hat. Let’s just say there are a lot of machines in a recycling center that go crunch, crunch, crunch.

My next stop on my local green tour was a self-sustaining farming barge floating in the Hudson River. Again, I avoided the school tour by presenting my shiny, new credentials. “Go ahead, Google me,” I offered. Sure enough, I got to see first-hand how hydroponics combined with solar power are the wave of farming’s future. My tour coincided nicely with a summer hurricane. Getting tossed around on choppy waters during a torrential down pour, lightning included, was a trip to remember and one that will hopefully spark a story. No amount of Internet searching can replicate that feeling of "what was I thinking getting on this boat?”

Like my trip to the recycling center, I quickly redirected my private barge tour to suit my research needs. “So technically,” I fished, “you could float this barge down the Hudson and out toward the East River. From there you could work your way to international waters and grow pretty much anything --‘wink, wink’ -- in this hydroponic set-up with little chance of getting caught.”

Maybe that last question was a bit of a stretch for my tour guide, but I’ll never have trouble describing a character’s ‘look of surprise’ again.

I have list of people I’d like to talk to for my third book, and I’m hoping they’re as game as my previous interviewees. There are a million new stories to be written, but without the generous help of my external experts, I’ll never write a single one.




IF YOU COULD INTERVIEW ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE? Tell us by commenting on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a copy of DRAWING CONCLUSIONS! (U.S. only please.)



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