Monday, October 25, 2021

The Art of the Decoy audiobook coming

So excited. A huge thank you to
 #CrookedLaneBooks and #DreamscapeMedia. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Guest post: When Your Detecting Characters are Smarter than Yourself by Catherine Schaff-Stump

 The Lady’s Step: When Your Detecting Characters are Smarter than Yourself


Catherine Schaff-Stump


How does he do it? 


I am the writer, after all, and yet, when I write Carlo Borgia, I find him to be much smarter than myself. As a writer, I know this is impossible. I know I am threading his way through the plot, leaving him clues that he can see, that I am leading him down a road toward solving the mystery, that I am setting him up.


And yet, damned if one of my favorite characters isn’t more astute than me. 


In my novella The Lady’s Step, it is not only Carlo who gets the better of me, but also Detective August Sorrell who observes, draws conclusions, and figures out the right way to go as the two of them lead each other on a merry dance through London in 1856. There is nothing more satisfying to me than watching two smart characters go up against each other, and while Carlo and August are both heroes of the story, the situation pits them against each other, because August thinks Carlo is a murderer. 


As a writer, I tend toward the mystical side when I explain my craft. If you prefer, I know my subconscious is doing right by me, sparking in me creativity that my characters can see and act upon. I know that clever insights bubble up from inside of me. Yet, I also feel more that my characters are acting through me insightfully and sometimes with a will not entirely my own. They notice things. They tell me what to do. They point things out, and I write them down.


When I first conceived of The Lady’s Step, I needed an excuse for Carlo Borgia to absent himself from the accompanying novel The Wrath of HorusThe Wrath of Horus is a horror novel about the next generation of Klaereon sorcerers ending up in Dante’s Inferno. If that’s your cup of tea, you can purchase both the novel and the novella together, but if not, you can purchase them separately (or better yet, get Carlo’s novella for free by signing up for my newsletter.) If you’ve read either books one or two of the Klaereon Scroll Series, you know Carlo Borgia would never allow for anything like this to happen to the young people in his care. Given how seriously Carlo takes his mission in guiding his daughter and his nephews, something important had to happen to get him out of the way. 


I send Carlo off to London to chase down a lead which he thinks can restore his absent wife, and events mushroom from there. Carlo is framed for murder, and August Sorrell is on the case. August represents a new concept in London during the nineteenth century, the evidentially based police detective. Up until this point, logic was used less in connecting case, and such things as social status or circumstances were allowed to stand when criminals were charged. Carlo has been well-framed, but August needs conclusive evidence before he can make his case. 


Carlo and August each draw many of the same conclusions about the case, yet each is looking at the evidence through a very different lens. Carlo has more personal stake in the issue, but what ultimately happens is something he doesn’t mystically expect. Meanwhile, August uses a network of officers, poison experts, and fellow detectives to track down not only one, but two potential murders. What fascinates me is the perception with which Carlo and August drawn lines about what is happening around each other, and how they themselves are affecting the case for each other. I’d like to pretend I’m responsible for all these machinations, but I am not, because my characters are often the first ones to tell me about what I’m missing.


If you’d like to take a look at The Lady’s Step, you can purchase it as an ebook on Amazon:

If both The Wrath of Horus  and The Lady’s Step interest you, here’s how to get to that:


And finally, if you’d just like The Lady’s Step for free, consider signing up for my newsletter:

Cath Schaff-Stump writes fantasy for children and adults. She writes funny stories, dark stories, and everything in between. She is the author of the Klaereon Scroll series and the Abigail Rath Versus series. Cath lives and works in Iowa. During the day, she teaches English at a local community college. More of her fiction has been published by Paper Golem Press, Daydreams Dandelion Press, and in The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk. You can find her online at Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, @cathschaffstump, and Follow Cath’s Kindle Vella serial The Autumn Warrior and the Ice Sword.