It's been a long time since I've been in high school. I had the great pleasure of spending time recently with a senior English class that was doing a module on mysteries and thrillers. I had my handouts, overview, and give-aways ready, and I barely got in the door before I got peppered with questions about mysteries and my writing. The class was mixed in their mystery experience. Many liked watching crime-related shows and movies, while others did read mysteries. There were a handful who had never read any kind of mystery. I love the energy and the interest. And I've never had anyone step through a critical discussion of my short story and the literary techniques I used. What fun!
We had a great discussion, and here are the highlights...
- The class really liked red herrings, foreshadowing, and irony in stories. They liked books with a plot twist.
- It was fun to talk about mystery and thriller authors. Many on my handout were new to the class, so they had lots of questions about subgenres and who wrote what type of book.
- They liked mysteries that combined several subgenres (e.g. romantic suspense, medical thriller, or legal thriller).
- Most of the class' interest in mysteries started with TV shows and movies.
- They were also very interested in what mystery resources were out there. We talked about websites, blogs, and author websites.
- We had a long discussion about how some popular sleuths had had lots of different interpretations and incarnations in movies and TV, such as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. They all had a favorite, but Benedict Cumberbatch and the BBC won the popular vote.
- They were interested in why some sleuths had sidekicks and others didn't. I typically don't have a sidekick in my short stories, but my private investigator has her computer-hacker partner to assist with research that she's unable to get through normal channels.
I enjoyed my visit, and many thanks to Ms. Arnold for inviting me.