Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cornelia Read

From a Q & A with Cornelia Read about her acclaimed debut novel, A Field of Darkness:

How did you get started with this novel?

I'd been laid off from a dotcom job in early 2001, and had spent months slogging through Craigslist job postings trying to find a new gig. One morning I ran across an announcement for a new crime fiction writing group here in Berkeley. I hadn't done fiction seriously in years, and had never tried my hand at the genre, but decided to go check it out when I realized how committed a mystery reader I'd become.

Our initial meeting was a week before 9/11. I volunteered to submit first, figuring I had two weeks to come up with a story.

So how did you decide on this story?

Driving home from that meeting, I started thinking about an unsolved double murder my husband's father told me about years ago, over lunch one day at their family farm... Decades earlier, the bodies of two girls were found in a neighbor's field. They'd last been seen alive with a pair of soldiers, walking along the New York State Fair's midway.

My father-in-law told me he'd been leasing that same field for several years, and had churned up a set of dog tags there one spring. Since I was working for a local paper at the time, he thought I might be interested in writing about it. I did fluffy feature things, mostly — how to make sushi, book reviews, Valentine's Day profiles of couples who'd found love through the personal ads. I had no idea how to tackle a crime story. I didn't have the confidence to pursue it.
Read the entire Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue