Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Spotlight: Murdered by James Schannep - Guest Post

Click Your Poison Novel

James Schannep

Murder Mystery
December 4, 2013

Kindle Deal $0.99 thru 4/27 

Blurb from Goodreads

3 Unique Storylines. Over 50 Possible Endings. Just one question... Could YOU Solve a Murder?

MURDERED is a mystery novel unlike any other -- YOU are the main character. Follow clues, interrogate suspects, and piece together the puzzle before the killer gets away! It's up to you to solve the case in this action-packed, dark and humorous thriller. Each link represents a choice, and the story evolves based on your decisions.

You're in a dark alley, a lost tourist in Brazil, when you stumble across a woman's body and a revolver atop a grisly note which reads, "PICK ME UP." That's when you realize you're not alone....

What starts as an exotic vacation ends up as the opportunity of a lifetime when you inadvertently witness a man fleeing the scene of a murder. Work side-by-side with US Diplomatic Security agents (DSS) and Brazilian Police Officers inside the lawless slums of Rio de Janeiro -- but choose wisely, no one is who they truly seem to be.


***Remember those "Choose Your Own Adventure" novels you loved so much as a child? "Click Your Poison" is a grown-up version from author James Schannep. And "Murdered" is available for $0.99 on Kindle until April 27.***

Guest Post by James Schannep

How do you fool yourself? 

                Every mystery writer is asked this question at some point in their career. That probably isn’t a big shocker. But every mystery writer also asked themselves this question before they started writing mysteries. After all, isn’t that the hardest part? Essentially writing a book so that it appears one set of events occurs, only to have a believable reveal to a second, third or even fourth set of events as the truth.

                My struggle, however, was another beast entirely. With my Click Your Poison series, I write interactive fiction (so-called “gamebooks”) for a mature audience. Think of it as Choose Your Own Adventure for grownups. So when I decided to set out and create an interactive mystery, one where the reader is pit against the villain directly, I wondered just how I’d fool myself. As far as I know, no one has ever attempted a literarily puzzle like this one. It felt like I tasked myself with constructing a Rubix cube from scratch. I had nowhere to look for answers, or so I felt initially.

                But the reality, is that the pieces of the puzzle were already out there, I just had to figure out where they fit. In INFECTED (my first Click Your Poison book) I’d learned many tools of the trade for interactive fiction. All I had to do was combine that knowledge with traditional mystery writing and—presto changeo—something new entered the world.

                Step one: Write the mystery backwards. The thing about a fair-play mystery (one in which the reader can solve the case themselves), is that there must be sufficient evidence and clues found within the text. So, before you do anything else, you must have the “what actually occurred” firmly planted in your mind.
                Step two: Bury the truth. A great piece of advice I came across, is that any character introduced in a mystery must be related to the plot (however tangentially). If you follow this rule, the next part is to give your main list of suspects a sufficient motivation and opportunity. Cover your “what actually occurred” with several layers of “what could have occurred” and then finally decorate it in a pretty layer of “what the story-world would have looked like if nothing had occurred.”

                Step three: Keep a map. You need to know where you buried the truth, after all, and what steps are required to find it once again. This is especially true in interactive fiction. Unless you’re reading this as a computer AI (in which case, I’m very flattered), you’ll have a hard time remembering so many parallel timelines and events. I keep detailed flowcharts in the hopes that I won’t get lost in my own mind.

                Step four: Smooth out the creases. Through editing, and peer feedback, you should know if you’ve fooled yourself. If so—then perhaps you’ll have fooled the reader as well.

If I’ve done my job, you’ll have a very difficult (but not impossible) time solving the mystery found in MURDERED. In fact, it’s my sincere hope that a few of you will think you’ve solved the mystery and will but down the book, ignore your lingering doubts, and feel satisfied. But I hope many more of you will follow your gut to the conclusion and not let me fool you for long.

About the Author

James Schannep (1984-) is an American novelist and screenwriter with a dozen competition wins and placements. His first screenplay was optioned in 2011 and the Click Your Poison series was launched September, 2012 with the flagship book INFECTED.
A United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) graduate with a degree in English, Schannep left the service honorably to write full time. He resides with his wife along California's central coast.
James has personally stopped three zombie uprisings without raising national attention.

More information, including contact details, is available at: www.jamesschannep.com

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