Story Magic may
not be real magic in the sense that something unexplained happens, but writers
must have faith in it. Story Magic happened to me when I was writing Hanging By A Hair, my 11th
Bad Hair Day mystery. I have a character who was jilted by a woman back when
they were young lovers. The girl’s parents whisked her off to Europe so she
could get over him.
the way, a thought struck me. What if the parents took her to Europe because
she was pregnant? In those days, it would have been necessary to hide this
state of affairs. Thus a whole new story angle was born that led to my sleuth
tracking down this offspring to Marco Island, Florida.
developments stem from the writer’s subconscious, but they seem like magic
nonetheless. It’s something we cannot account for when we write a synopsis
beforehand. The synopsis can be rewritten later to accommodate these plot
changes. But it’s a wondrous feeling when a new angle suddenly pops into one’s
head. It also makes the story more exciting for you, the reader. Because if I
am surprised, so are you, and that makes for a better read.
process itself is magical. Everyone always asks, where do you get your ideas?
My reply is that ideas are everywhere. It’s having the time to write them which
is the problem. Truly, story ideas in a series are easier to come by. The
sequels spring from the setting, characters and plot developments that have
come before. Thus after my hairdresser sleuth, Marla Shore, marries her
boyfriend, a honeymoon is sure to follow. This becomes the setting for Peril by
Ponytail, the next series installment.
And I’m already
thinking to the book beyond. Marla has opened a day spa next to her salon. We
haven’t centered a story there yet. I’ve put that nugget into my brain, along
with a possible book title, hoping that the means of murder will pop into my
If you think
about it, the entire reading experience is magical. You’re whisked away to an
imaginary place you’re able to visualize from a bunch of words on a page.
That’s a characteristic of humanity few people consider. But to have this
ability to read fiction and to escape into another world is a blessed gift. Not
everyone possesses it. If you’re one of the lucky readers, you can go to any
time and place presented in a story or in your imagination. I feel bad for
people who lack this ability. They’re rooted to reality, although they might
escape by reading about home decoration or clothing styles or cars. Everyone finds
a means to relax, but creating a fictional world in your head is truly a
talent. Reading a work of fiction is a magical experience.
Do you like it to
be quiet when you read, or do you not mind outside noise or music?
Hanging By A
Bad Hair Day Mystery
Marla’s joyous move to a new house with her
husband, Detective Dalton Vail, is marred by their next-door neighbor who
erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man
of the local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found
dead the following day. Dismayed when Dalton is removed from the case due to a
conflict of interest, Marla decides it’s up to her to find the killer.
Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day mystery series
featuring hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under
the sultry Florida sun. Several of these titles have made the IMBA bestseller
list. Nancy is also the author of Writing the Cozy Mystery, a valuable instructional guide for mystery
writers. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. Her titles in this genre have won the HOLT Medallion and
Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The
Romance Reviews. Active in the writing community and a featured speaker at
libraries and conferences, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets
& Writers, and Who's Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When
not busy writing, she enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising and outlet