Tuesday, 7 January 2014


It is my pleasure to welcome mystery writer Gloria Ferris to Bad Girl.  Believe me, it's a good fit.  Gloria writes with humour and sass.  Not to mention, she has a great collection of Goth jewelry, which I covet... 


Disclaimer: the opinion expressed below is that of one weird writer and does not necessarily reflect that of the un-weird ones, and good luck finding any.

            I’ve reached the age where I delight in breaking rules, as long as it doesn’t land me in jail. One rule of writing I break over and over is: BE PREPARED TO KILL YOUR IMPORTANT CHARACTERS OFF TO ADVANCE YOUR PLOT, OR CREATE SUSPENSE.

            Mmmm, no. Not happening.

            I put a lot of time and effort into making my protagonists and other characters as real as possible. Sometimes I think they really exist on a parallel planet and I channel them into my stories. I love these folks, with all their flaws and bad attitudes. None of my recurring characters are perfect, and some are downright nasty.

            My people get hurt a lot. They get shot, stabbed, hit on the head, dosed with illegal substances, get flung down flights of stairs, have anxiety attacks, contract debilitating agoraphobia, chased by wild animals, die of natural causes … And that’s just in my first two books. But I am not going to turn them into corpses.

            But…, but …, you say, a good mystery story has at least one murder or mysterious death. Of course, that’s where the temporary, made-for-killing, character comes in. This character (or characters, as I like to sprinkle the bodies hither and yon throughout the story) must be fully developed, even sympathetic or appealing in some way. But I don’t have an emotional attachment to him. I know when I create this character, she is going to die or become the villain. (See how I’m using “him” and “her” indiscriminately to throw you off?)

            While I may be a rebel, I won’t ignore writing fundamentals that make a story better. I try to follow the important rules of writing that create suspense, advance the plot, or develop characters. I approach writing from a reader’s viewpoint. Or, more precisely, what do I enjoy as a reader?

            I love books that engage my interest, force me to read on, and prompt me to say when I reach the end, “Man, that was a good story!” That’s the kind of book I want to write. And, if the characters I have grown to love die or end up too damaged to function in a sequel, I feel cheated and probably will give the writer’s other books a miss.

            I write what I love to read. Humour, interesting plot, snappy dialogue, emotional ups and downs, a touch of romance (but not too much, or I’ll go read a romance instead of a mystery), a corpse or two, a satisfying ending. And, to me, a satisfying ending is a plausible wrap-up to the tribulations the protagonist has battled from page 1. This usually means she changes a little, gets what she was after (or something different but just as good), and is ready to face the next challenge the writer comes up with. If the book is a stand-alone and I know I will never read about this protagonist again, I still want a good ending.

            So, I have one word to say to those purists who want me to kill my darlings. NEVER!

Gloria has been a member of Crime Writers of Canada since 2008. Cheat the Hangman was a finalist in the 2009 Unhanged Arthur contest and has won the 2012 Bony Blithe Award. She won the 2010 Unhanged Arthur Award with Corpse Flower which is a recent release by Dundurn Press. Gloria is currently working on the sequel to Corpse Flower and is also co-authoring a mystery with sister-in-law Donna Warner.

Blog: Gloria Ferris Mysteries http://gloriaferrismysteries.blogspot.ca/
Twitter: @GloriaFerris
               Corpse Flower on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/nqe8qzh
               Cheat the Hangman on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/79x3lqa


  1. I'm with you Gloria. I feel like I'm being gratuitously manipulated when a character is set up to be loved, then killed off. (Unless they die a really good death.) Of course, when you add a touch of paranormal to the book, you can kill off anyone you want and have them come back as a ghost.

  2. You might covet her jewellery Melodie, but Gloria covets my crystal skulls.And she's not getting them. As Liz and I edit each others work we are always' killing off each others darlings ie. too many adverbs etc but to kill off characters with all their warts, I don't think so. Great post ladies. You both keep me laughing.

  3. Thank you, ladies. I think that both Melodie and I channel our natural voices when we write. Which makes us - uh, crazy? No. Fun, let's go with fun. And, Pam, I didn't want to mention this before - I have the big vodka-filled crystal skull but I do covet the smaller ones. I can't seem to get my hands on them. Want to sell?

  4. I too covet the crystal skulls!

    Also agree that writing as a reader is vital to creating a readable story. I love it when a book pulls me in, when the characters feel real, when I care deeply what happens to them without obvious manipulation by the author....And yes, victims are generally disposable, however likeable you make them. My personal challenge is to make my unlikeable victims sufficiently rounded that readers will feel a pang when they're killed. Nothing like shooting for the moon.

  5. I've always hated that writing advice that we should "kill our darlings." Um, what? That might be the best part! I understand during editing that I will reassess everything and perhaps decide something whether it was a character or scene is not so darling after all, but if I still think it's darling, then there's no way I'm going to kill it. Terrible advice really. Thanks for rejecting it publicly.