It’s no mystery why I write mysteriesby Amy Gail Hansen
“Why did you write a mystery?” People ask me this all the time, whether in casual conversation or more formally at one of my book signings for my debut mystery, The Butterfly Sister. And my answer traces back to the human condition. We are hardwired problem solvers with an inclination to discover the unknown.
So why did I write a mystery? For me, it was innate. It’s my go-to story line. Sure, The Butterfly Sister is also part romance, part women’s fiction, part literary thriller, part book club discussion stimulus. But at its core, it’s a mystery. In The Butterfly Sister, a strange suitcase arrives at Ruby Rousseau’s doorstep, and when she tries to find its rightful owner, college acquaintance Beth Richards, she learns Beth has been missing for several days. What happened to Beth? Is she alive or dead? And who is responsible for her disappearance? The mystery is perpetuated by clues Ruby discovers in the luggage and from her own girl-detective investigating. However, there are other mysteries to be uncovered by the reader—subplots relating to Ruby’s mental health. Why did Ruby’s therapist tell her to “cease reading books by or about women who killed themselves”? Why did she drop out of college ten months prior? How did her relationship with her English professor, Mark Suter, end and why?
And is Ruby a reliable narrator?
Mysteries are not easy to write. They are complex puzzles that take time and plotting and re-plotting to get them right. Still, I think mysteries come easily to both writers and readers because they play off our very human need to not only ask questions but answer them. Naturally, my next book will be of the mystery/suspense/thriller genre. And just like The Butterfly Sister, it will ask more than who done it, but also how and why. The National Enquirer’s tagline says it best: Enquiring minds need to know.