At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

All Over the Lou

We continue the top ten reasons to check out The Broken Cross with reason #9...

I thought about calling this post "A Full Court Press" but thought that'd be misleading given that we're getting into the NCAA basketball tournament. The title is due to how my second novel appears compared to the first. In Litany of Secrets, the duo of Detectives Cameron Ballack and Tori Vaughan are neck-deep in a murderous chess match of wills that takes place on a small seminary campus in rural Missouri. While I'd like to say I did this for the sake of heightening the tension of one locale (which in some part it was), I mostly constructed the story that way so I could learn on the fly how to write a novel. One element of the triad of plot, character, and setting had to be simplified yet magnified, so setting was my choice.

While I believe The Broken Cross weaves more elements of characters along with a faster pace, it was a harder book to write. This is primarily because the action goes all over the St. Louis area. From a courtroom battle in Clayton (the county seat of St. Louis County, by the way) to Ballack receiving his SID badge in St. Charles; from grisly assessments at the Cathedral Basilica to a secretary's hideout in Webster Groves; from an attorney's office off Tesson Ferry Road to the greasy spoon of Alton, IL's own Fast Eddie's Bon-Air; from the Drury Plaza at the Arch to the Gaelic football pitch at St. Vincent's Park in Normandy; from Chesterfield to Creve Coeur and back into the city again...our detective hero doesn't keep his wheelchair in one location for very long.

Because of this, much work gets done on the go. Phone conversations are hurried, and travel east up more time than it would compared to the bucolic enclave of St. Basil's Seminary. But I believe it's worth it, because the story takes place in real locations, in real time, and my readers deserve to soak up every moment of life in St. Louis, whether battling traffic on Interstate 44 or quietly touring the Cathedral Basilica.

Would we all could dwell at the Cathedral, but have patience. The archdiocesan seat is the subject of reason #8 to come...

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