“Write what you know.”
It’s sound advice. However, if I followed it, my protagonist would be an insurance customer service rep, which is not as exciting as a pet psychic.
A better saying might be “Write what you want to know.” There will be a learning curve, but that’s half the fun. Take my Pet Psychic mysteries.
I’m not a pet psychic, nor did I have any experience with them before I researched my book. I didn’t even knew they existed. What I did have was a neurotic rescue mutt.
One day, while walking with a neighbor, she raved about how her friend’s dog had been transformed after a visit with a pet psychic. Why didn’t I bring Buster to one and see if it helped?
My first response? What a waste of money.
Later, as the more intriguing aspects of taking Buster to a psychic began to settle in, I thought I could make up some of my expenses if I could interest a magazine in running an article. I sent out queries and scheduled two appointments for my dog.
The first psychic, nationally recognized, was a disappointment. In fact, I based Frankie Chandler’s fake pet psychic business on her and a pet psychic I saw at a fair.
The second psychic, who preferred the title animal communicator, came to my home. Buster lay at his feet and periodically woofed. He definitely seemed more connected to my dog. Ever since, Benjamin Scuglia has been my go-to guy for background on Frankie Chandler’s psychic activities.
While my pup wasn’t cured of his anxiety issues, I did come up with an article for Fido Friendly Magazine called Calling All Canine Clairvoyants. Another neighbor suggested my next mystery feature a pet psychic as the detective, and since I now knew a pet psychic to help with my research and I also knew several animal trainers and behaviorists from working with Buster… .
Would I have attempted a pet psychic mystery if I hadn’t had a neurotic dog who needed help? Never. And yet, the Frankie Chandler books are my most popular mysteries to date.
The third Pet Psychic mystery is almost ready to go. It takes place on a cruise to Alaska, and the idea came while I was on a–wait for it–cruise to Alaska. Talk about enjoying the research!
I’m also working on a mystery with a priest protagonist. He’s a former exorcist who has been reassigned to an all-girl high school. Talk about wrestling with demons! (I can say that with confidence because I once was a teenage girl!) While I’m not yet an expert on exorcists, I have listened to hours of talks given to priest groups and others, and it’s fascinating stuff.
What’s going on in your life that you could mine for book material? What would you like to know that would make fun reading? Jump right in. If nothing else, you’ll beat everyone else at trivia games.
Jacqueline Vick is the author of over twenty published short stories, novelettes and mystery novels. Her April 2010 article for Fido Friendly Magazine, “Calling Canine Clairvoyants”, led to the first Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mystery, Barking Mad About Murder. To find out more, visit her website .