Saturday, June 12, 2010


by E.J. Copperman

Poe's Deadly Daughters welcome as our guest the mysterious E.J. Copperman, the author of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, the first Haunted Guesthouse Mystery from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find out more about E.J. at or read E.J.'s blog Sliced Bread at

People who are not writers--and by that I do NOT mean simply people who have not yet been published, but people who actually never sit down and write anything longer than a grocery list--have a number of misconceptions about what it is like to write a story, a play, a screenplay, a greeting card, or for that matter a blog post. Well, the gracious folks here at Poe's Deadly Daughters have invited me aboard to fill in today and help a little. So let me disabuse you of your misconceptions, non-writers, and perhaps a few writers will also find some truth in what I say. Or not.

First, let me establish my credentials, which is not nearly as dirty a process as it sounds. I'm the author of the current NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, the first Haunted Guesthouse Mystery, which was published the first day of this month. And if you do a tiny bit of digging (like going to my website, for example), you might find that I've written one or two other things, as well. So I have, demonstrably, written in my lifetime, and there are even some people who have read what I wrote and, dare I say it, purported to enjoy the experience. So let's, for the sake of argument, assume that I'm a writer.

That means I can tell you a few things about what being a writer means, and more important, what being a writer DOESN'T mean.


1. No, you wouldn't write a novel if you just had the time. If you're not writing one anyway, let's face it, you're probably not going to do it.
2. Almost no writers are "famous authors." I am, believe me, NOT a "famous author."
3. We all don't KNOW the famous authors, either. I don't have Stephen King's phone number, but he can have my email address if he'd like it.
4. Our main characters are NOT all based on us. And no, my books aren't set in my hometown, or any real town. No, they're not. No, not even that one.
5. We don't just sit around all day waiting for inspiration. Who has the time? We have to figure out new ways to get you to buy our PREVIOUS inspirations.
6. Mystery writers really couldn't solve crimes. I don't care what they do on CASTLE.
7. We don't type "THE END" on a piece of paper in a typewriter anymore. Haven't for decades.
8. We don't all drink. I, for example, have a beer about every two months. SOME of us drink, and not that often to excess. It sure as hell isn't part of the creative process.
9. Mystery writers don't ALWAYS "kill off" people we don't really like. Okay, maybe we do. But not ALL the time.
10. No, it's not a good idea to set a mystery novel at a mystery writing convention, and no, you didn't just think of that yourself. EVERYBODY has thought of that.
11. Many of us, believe it or not, DON'T have classical music playing whenever we're working.
12. There are a couple of us who have developed at least rudimentary social skills.
13. We have no control over the covers on our books. None. We're consulted once in a while, and then the publisher does what they want. (Personally, I'm thrilled with the cover of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, but I still didn't have anything to do with its design).
14. Sometimes, we don't even write our own titles.
15. Writing is NOT fun. HAVING WRITTEN, on the other hand, is a blast. I recommend it highly.

I hope the above list is helpful. By the way, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED is about a recently divorced mom who returns to her Jersey Shore hometown and buys an old Victorian with the hope of turning it into a comfy guesthouse. In the midst of renovations, however, she discovers two ghosts haunting the premises, and they won't let her complete her home improvement--or open her new business--until she does them a little favor: They want Alison to find out who murdered them. (You didn't think I wouldn't plug the book, did you?)

And if that doesn't hook you, feel free to ask questions, and maybe I can come up with something else.

Thanks to Poe's Deadly Daughters for the opportunity. Ladies, it's always a pleasure.


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Check...check...check....For my money, every single word that E.J. said about what writers don't do is true. ;)

Ritaestelle said...

Very informative E.J. Btw, I just finished Night of the Living Deed and really enjoyed it - so much so that I want to know if and when book #2 will be published. It is a bonus that it takes place on the 'Jersey Coast' :D

Patty said...

Absolutely love the cover. I'm not a writer and never will be - but I do enjoy these looks into what writers do or don't do. Thanks for that.

chris v said...

Love it! and the cover is fantastic (as is the title!)

Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

Great list! I'm linking back to share it.

I WANT YOUR BOOK! Hmmm. When will I get paid and be able to get to a bookstore? Working on it. :-)

E.J. Copperman said...

Thanks for everyone for the kind comments. I'm glad you liked it, Ritaestelle. The second, currently titled AN UNINVITED GHOST, is due April 2011, which as my agent says, sounds like a science fiction date.

Dru said...

Thanks, it's nice to know these things from writers. In my mind, every book that I read are written by famous authors, and that includes you.

Julia Buckley said...

The book sounds great! And the list seems accurate as well. Fun post, EJ!

Sandra Parshall said...

Great to have you here, E.J. (And I love your cover.) Unfortunately, a handful of writers *do* drink to excess, and sometimes do it in public, but I prefer to look the other way. Most mystery writers are sensible people who are on their best behavior around other writers and fans.

A writer *can* have some control over a cover -- you just have to learn to scream loud enough when you get one you hate. Your publisher might change it just to get you to shut up.

Everything else on your list is spot on!

Liz said...

I have fun while writing. That's the only change I'd make to this list.

Anastasia said...

:-) Shouldn't there be one item about all the money we DON'T make -- even with a bestseller?

Diana said...

#11: er, actually, I do play classical music while I write. It cuts down on the shiny object distractions I'm prone to otherwise.
I also find writing a lot of fun, most of the time. Rewriting, on the other hand (grits teeth.)

#1 is absolutely dead on. Not a mystery writer, but you have my empathy - and Castle's premise really bugs me!

Roz Morris aka @Roz_Morris . Blog: Nail Your Novel said...

So true. You must have been eavesdropping behind me at parties!

Love the point about covers. I once wrote a novel for which the cover had already been done. At least I was able to base the villainess's description on the twisted figure on the cover. When it came out, a college friend said: 'I LOVED your book - you put HER in it, didn't you, that awful girl we knew?' When I explained such a thing could not have been further from my mind he wouldn't believe me.