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hate violence

I Hate Violence But I Write Crime Fiction

Is that a problem? I don’t think so. The fact that I hate violence is one of the reasons why I write crime fiction.

Most of us, in one way or another, had seen or experienced violence. I myself had been violated and writing it down on paper released at least some of the negative emotions I had in my heart and soul. I think there’s nothing wrong with writing to be read, and somehow, crime fiction is a sure hot topic to read.

Also, crime fiction interests a steady and ever increasing audience, from the traditional mystery a la Sherlock Holmes to the legal drama a la How To Get Away With Murder on TV, and all other types of crime fiction in between. So the enthusiasm of readers to follow their favorite authors (or films or TV shows) is an added bonus for us writers.

One of the things that make crime fiction flexible is the fact that it could be combined with other genres like romance, sci-fi, paranormal, etc. Crime fiction may follow a certain formula that could guide any writer from start to finish. Anyone could still get away with writing a plot-driven crime fiction if he/she couldn’t write it in a character-driven plot at first.

And lastly, writing crime fiction challenges my mind to confront larger issues of violence and tackle them on paper. It makes me ask the merits of our justice system. It makes me wonder why people commit crime. It could be a fun learning experience at the same time, it gives me the relief upon solving the puzzling crime by myself. In the end, good and justice prevails and resolves that crime doesn’t pay. And with conviction I’ll say, I hate violence that’s why I write crime fiction.

Number One Fan deleted prologue

Deleted Prologue: An Exclusive Peek

Here’s the deleted prologue from my novel Number One Fan which you can only read exclusively here on this site.

During NaNoWriMo last November 2012, I wrote a prologue to start my story. I thought it would be a good idea to explain a certain backstory of the main character. There are some novels that used this technique and it worked for them in the past.

At that time, my working title was Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star which I had taken from the nursery rhyme clue in the story. Since I decided to use the first person point of view, I wanted to establish Regine’s character as a journalist and how she came to present the story.

However, times have changed. Authors and editors don’t recommend the use of prologues anymore. So sometime in April 2013, during the revision process, I decided to delete the prologue, went straight to chapter 2, and started the story from there.

The Deleted Prologue

A WORD FROM REGINE STA. MARIA

BEFORE WE TOOK our Christmas break during Grade 4, our English teacher instructed us to keep a diary and start writing on it by New Year.

I excitedly told my mother about our assignment when I got home. I asked her to buy me a diary.

A few days later, my mother was stabbed to death. I didn’t witness the actual crime, but I saw the killer went out of her room carrying a bloody knife that fateful day. I don’t know why the scene was still vivid in my memory except for the killer’s face. I was ten years old then and that memory haunted me only until recently when I came to terms with it.

Christmas morning, my aunt handed me my mother’s last gift. It was a Hello Kitty diary with a small lock and key on the side and a matching ballpoint pen. I couldn’t wait to start writing on it, referring to the diary as “Kitty” just like how Anne Frank called hers.

Writing on it for the first time felt like talking to a friendly cat that silently licked my wounds to heal. I felt Kitty reciprocated my writing with filial devotion and affection every time I poured out my feelings with words. I’m not a pet person, but Kitty the diary became my virtual pet, my form of catharsis, my form of therapy, and my intimate friend.

Mae West once said, “Keep a diary and it’ll keep you.” Right now I have lots of journals stacked in my drawer.

My journal writing has evolved into different forms — unsent letters, dialogues, lists, idea maps, doodles, sketches, or a combination of two or more forms. It kept on evolving.

The story you’re about to read was taken mainly from my diary. In fact, it helped me decide what college course and career to take. I took up A.B. Journalism because I wanted to be a newscaster just like my idol, Alma Perez. I wished to be famous like her. But no one warned me to be careful on what I wished for.

Although this story could possibly happen to anyone, I never thought that it would actually happen to me. I took the poetic license to write the story like fiction to include Number One Fan’s side. I could vouch for the authenticity of his story based on the audio file he sent me and some accounts from reliable sources.

To distinguish the difference, I would tell my story in the first person point of view and his in the third person (and written in italics, too).

Let me know what you think. If you haven’t read Number One Fan, please download a copy now.

Reasons Why I Write Crime

The Reasons Why I Write Crime

I started seriously reading books when I was 9 when I got interested borrowing books from our school library. There was something in the word “mystery” in “Nancy Drew in The Spider Sapphire Mystery” that made me borrow it. Since then I was hooked with the series, always looking for those Grosset & Dunlap hardbound books with yellow sides and has numbers on them. I don’t remember how many have I read out of the more than fifty in their list but something made me crave for more.

I was even more fascinated when while browsing inside a bookstore, I found a book that says “The world’s most popular mystery writer of all time…” That description pertained to Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime. Why was she described as that made me research and found out who she was. I was 10 years old then, but I read my first Christie, Ordeal By Innocence two years later.

I, like everyone else, am curious about unsolved mysteries and whodunnits.

Who isn’t? I love coming up with conspiracy theories about things I thought I know more about. It’s easy for me to jump into conclusions. I love to pry on someone’s secrets. I don’t want things hidden from me. Spies, assassins, and undercover agents fascinate me. The bottom line: I always ask the how and why of things.

There is a feeling of affirmation that the Earth is still a good place to live in and life goes on.

These are some of what crime/mystery thrillers are made of. The story that begins with a crime and keeps me in suspense as I guess who did it every time I turn the page. I anticipate that the villain will get caught in the end. Cathartic in some ways, yet I ask for more; a good form of escapist entertainment.

I want to write something that can cross with other genres

That’s the main reason why I write crime fiction.  I can mix it with romance, drama, historical, comedy, sci-fi, paranormal, etc. It may require me to include police procedures, legal and medical facts, interviews with investigators and forensic experts, which could be a learning experience for me as well. I wish I could meet an actual spy or assassin for an interview.

Mystery/Crime fiction appeals to all genders, therefore it could reach wider audience.

There is something in pulp fiction that it still sells until today. Stories that thrill are most likely to be translated into film, TV, play, or other entertainment forms.

And speaking of translation, my first English novel, Number One Fan, was offered to be translated to Turkish by Altin Bilek Yayinlari for their 2014-2015 book season. However, it never happened. Now, here’s wishing for an offer to have it translated into film or television… 🙂

number one fan

Number One Fan

In 2002, I planned to write a trilogy about three newscasters, each having a story to tell. Inspired by The Bestseller by Lila Ramsey and The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie, I challenged myself to write a mystery-thriller using the nursery rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as a clue.

It is about a newscaster who receives a bouquet of flowers and a phone call from someone who calls himself her Number One Fan. His message was to make him number one or else, someone will die. She dismissed it as a mere prank.

After a week, the police found her journalism professor dead. She then realized that it was not just a joke. With only the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as her clue, she has to guess who Number One Fan is and who will be the next victim as journalists around her start to die one by one.

I wrote the first part of the Filipino trilogy, The Ratings Game in April 2002. However, while writing the second part, News Scam, writer’s block set in. I was stuck. I felt there was something missing but I could not figure it out. Therefore, I put it aside, hoping to find an answer in the future.

I never thought that “future” would take years. However, the idea still holds in my mind, wanting release. By the way, the third part was supposed to be entitled, Breaking News.

In 2011, while sorting out old files, I found the original manuscript, typewritten from a manual typewriter. Nine years have passed, and typewriters no longer exist. I re-typed the manuscript in my computer hoping to find a new stimulus while retyping and revising just to finish the Filipino novel. However, I felt something was still missing.

In 2012, I decided to join the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. I used the original concept and wrote everything from scratch this time in English. The characters and plot have changed since then. Although short of 50,000 words by the end of November, I continued revising the story after NaNoWriMo. I finished the manuscript with 51,907 words, 40 chapters, and 208 pages on 27 May 2013.

On 6 June 2013, Foboko released Number One Fan, the novel I conceptualized in 2002. I felt relieved that the concept has finally found its way in publishing. Talk about being patient for eleven years. It was a long wait worth it. A few days after that, Free-eBooks.net released Number One Fan on its website. It is available online in .pdf, .txt, ePub, Mobipocket and a variety of formats compatible with Kindle, Sony, iPad, and other readers.

Since then, every November, I join NaNoWriMo to write a novel. Not necessarily the sequel, although I have plans of writing one.

That same year, I entered the novel in a contest. One of the judges in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Award said that,

This has a really unusual and interesting setting for a mystery novel. This reader does not recall ever reading a book set in newscasting, or in the Philippines, which lends a really original cast to the whole story. Regine is clearly is a strong and capable woman, and her sense of family and responsibility as well as ambition keep the reader on her side. Overall it is a strong idea for a story and a setting that could support sequels.

This comment inspired me to go on writing. Until now, I am still not giving up on my trilogy.

To celebrate the success of my first NaNoWriMo novel, Number One Fan, you can download it here for FREE.