COLUMBIA, SC — Three mystery authors advised would-be writers Saturday to blend what they know with imagination grounded in research.
A bribe that Hope Clark of Chapin believes was offered her while working at the U.S. Department of Agriculture spurred her first novel about an undercover probe similar to what happened to her.
“That was the catalyst,” she told an audience of 60 during a session at the 17th edition of the South Carolina Book Festival. “It’s a lot of fun to spin stories.”
Realism must be observed amid entertainment, she said.
So life sometimes must be unfair in fiction, Clark said. “The rules don’t always work.”
Former Midlands magazine editor Sue Duffy of Irmo said her experiences in journalism “was the fuel” for her trilogy of international espionage and intrigue rooted in the Southeast.
Expanding upon that background takes work to make the adventures believable, she said.
“If I only wrote what I knew, it would have given out a long time ago,” she said.
As for those would-be authors out there, keep trying despite repeated rejection if you want to be published, prize-winning author Susan Boyer of Greenville said.
Determination is vital for any successful writer, she said.
Boyer described herself as “the little girl that wanted to be Nancy Drew.”
She recently won an Agatha award, one of the top prizes for mysteries. “I was stunned out of my mind,” she said. “To win it was beyond my wildest dreams.”
Each author described their characters as alter egos who live much more interesting lives.
“I live vicariously,” Boyer said.
If you go
The festival concludes Sunday with sessions from noon-4 p.m. at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center downtown. For more information, go online to scbookfestival.org.