Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Welcome, Misty Simon

 One of the most fascinating parts of being a mystery author (or a murder worder as a friend called me the other day and I loved it enough to adopt it as my own!) is the question What If? 

As I look around at different places, different people, different scenarios, I often make up stories involving those places or people at the center. I change them as I see fit, giving them backstories that probably have nothing to do with who they really are, incidents that have probably never happened, challenges that they might never face.

Like the guy who walks around the block seven times a day but never stops anywhere. Does he do it exactly seven times every day? Is there a significance to seven? Or is he clocking himself or his steps? Does he have OCD and can’t stop until he walks seven laps? If he fell would he have a hissy fit if someone tried to make him go to the hospital without finishing that last lap? And then my favorite question to follow up on What If is Why… 

The absolute joy of being able to play with the concept of what if is one of the things that keeps me coming back over and over again to tell more stories involving people and places that catch my interest. But he Why is the big juicy cheery in my Shirley Temple. Why do they do these things? What happened in his or her past that keeps them in this pattern?

I keep these places and people in a file. I probably should have it on the computer but raise your hand if you like stationery! A well placed stickie is one of my favorite things and I adore that they have so many colors now.

But I digress… Back to What If?

Take the setting for my upcoming book Par for the Hearse. The amusement park where the book is set is real. It sits back behind what is now a flea market, a speedway, and a train museum. It’s stood for years on the edge of this property. Many years ago our family rented it to host our enormous family reunions. It’s closed now but I wanted to bring it back to life for this story. And the what ifs abounded.

Who would have access? What if that person decided that someone knew too much? Or what if the person had died because someone finally had enough of their attitude and things went downhill from there? I love the way stories come together and almost seem to write themselves once I give myself up to the What If. People come in and out of the story. Some stay and others end up getting cut, but without the What If there would be no story to start with. 

I love writing with my hometown as a backdrop too (though I don’t ever call it that because I don’t want to get in trouble for killing everyone in town!). There are so many possibilities. That shop that seems to have a new store every time I drive down Main Street. The woman who sits in her windowsill and flicks the curtain back and forth every time a car or person goes by.

What is she waiting for? Is she worried that someone is coming after her? Is she just that nosy and thinks that everyone in town needs to pass her inspection? But what if she saw something she wasn’t supposed to see and is the on the bad guy’s radar because she’s the only eyewitness? Would she call the cops? Or is she hiding something so she can’t call the cops because that would mean she’d get caught too?

Why does she sit there? Is she wishing that she was anywhere else? Is she waiting for a relative to come home that never made it? Is she unable to move beyond the window because she’s afraid she’ll miss something like she did when she was a child?

The possibilities are endless. And What If and Why lead you to notice so many details along the path that we all walk. I leave my phone in my backpack when I’m walking. I let my gaze dart all over the place and try to take in every detail I possibly can. The one blue wall in a sea of gray, the graffiti on the side of the train going through town. The way someone deliberately planted red and blue tulips in a row, alternating colors. Was it that important? Why?

Now I’m fully aware that most people just do things because they want to. Maybe she likes the colors next to each other. Maybe the guy walks seven times because that’s a mile and that will help him stay healthy. Maybe the woman looks out the window because she’s waiting for the delivery man to give her a package she’s been waiting for and she doesn’t want her dogs to bark at him.

But when you’re a murder worder you have to make things connect. If you have a woman who flicks a curtain then that package ought to be super important or she’s there to see something that later she’ll tell the sleuth about. If the man walks around the block then he has to have a reason or he’s not useful to your story. But the What If leads you down avenues you might never have explored. And the Why makes you think of reasons to explore more.

As a murder worder that’s one of my favorite things to share with readers. Let’s go explore – emotions, situations, people, feelings, locations. All ending ina big old dollop of justice. Par for the Hearse has a ton of what ifs in it and I enjoyed playing with every single one. I hope you’ll join me in the fun!


Catch up on the Tallie Graver Mysteries until Par for the Hearse releases in December 2021!


Bio: Misty Simon always wanted to be a storyteller…preferably behind a Muppet. Animal was number one, followed closely by Sherlock Hemlock… Since that dream didn’t come true, she began writing stories to share her world with readers, one laugh at a time. She knows how to hula, was classically trained to sing opera, co-wrote her high school Alma Mater, and can’t touch raw wood. Never hand her a Dixie cup with that wooden spoon/paddle thing. It’s not pretty.

Touching people’s hearts and funny bones are two of her favorite things, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter, and two insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at

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  1. Misty, I love, love, love your what if! It is absolutely the best part of writing a mystery. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. The What ifs are also great for a straight romance writer like me who happens to be a pantser - I never know how things pop into my story as I write. So playing the "what if" game is useful in the rewrites to connect all the dots. Thanks for the reminder, Ms. Murder Worder (great title for a mystery writer.) And great blog!