Dedicated crime fiction fans might be familiar with a blogging group by the name of “Jungle Red Writers.” For those who are not, the group describes itself as, “Eight smart and sassy crime fiction writers dish on writing and life. It’s The View. With bodies.”
The bodies are, of course, fictional. But their name, and their dedication to crime fiction, is very real. According to Jan Brogan (www.janbrogan.com), one of the founders of the group, “The name Jungle Red comes from the movie/play, ‘The Women.’ In the opening scene, all the women are at the salon, gossiping, and the new hot nail color is ‘Jungle Red.’ Jungle Red, which is repeated throughout the movie/play becomes a symbol for gossip. In ‘The Women,’ the gossip is destructive, we try to keep ours at a more positive level.”
Brogan, like many authors, wears two hats. In addition to being the author of a mystery series about an investigative reporter, she said, “I am also a newspaper reporter currently working as a correspondent for The Boston Globe and as a freelancer for the New England Center of Investigative Reporting.”
She typically likes to write in the mornings, but Brogan said that work deadlines sometimes interfere with that schedule. On those days, she’ll don her writer’s hat from 4-8 p.m. She is a bit superstitious about her writing. “I believe that checking my email before I write in the morning slows my brain and interrupts the creative process. I also refuse to play the lottery because I believe writers need a lot of luck in timing and exposure. A person only gets so much luck and I don’t want to waste any on the lottery when I need it all for my writing.”
At the opposite end of the email-superstition scale is Hallie Ephron (www.hallieephron.com). Ephron proudly states her writing goal on her website. “I hope my novels will keep you up at night.” Unlike her blog mate, Brogan, Ephron must check her email before she writes. Her comment, however, was, “I’m trying to break myself of that.”
Ephron also revealed that her characters let her know when something has gone awry in her writing. “When they give me the cold shoulder, it’s because I’m trying to make them do something they just wouldn’t. Then it’s take time out to rethink my story.”
Taking that time out helps Ephron to focus. She said, “Sometimes you have to stop writing in order to think. The best ideas seem to come to me when I’m taking a shower, driving a car, frying chicken—maybe because that’s when it’s physically impossible to write them down.”
Hitchcockian, “deliciously creepy” page turners, and “suburban noir in which the ordinary is imbued with menace” are all descriptions that Ephron said have been applied to her novels “Never Tell a Lie” and “Come and Find Me.” Perhaps because she writes such dark fiction, she finds comfort in an unusual way. “I also like to sharpen pencils. This is for no good reason since my hands rarely leave the keyboard. But I like the look of those ready-to-go pencil points.” Hopefully, a pencil will never become a murder weapon in one of Ephron’s novels.
Next in line to unveil their writing superstitions and fears: Rhys Bowen, Lucy Burdette, Deborah Crombie, and Hank Phillippi Ryan. Learn more about the Jungle Red Writers on their website at www.jungleredwriters.com. Read part 2 of this story.
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