Today on Mystery Mondays we welcome award-winning author Garry Ryan of the Detective Lane Mysteries and Blackbird Trilogy. This is Garry’s second time on Mystery Mondays sharing advice.
Being There by Garry Ryan
Nearly everything we experience can become research. This July we drove just over two thousand kilometres to a wedding in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The driving time became a luxury of boredom. After a while, the imagination gets starved, begins scanning for stimulation.
It gave me time to think about this character (Lauren) I’ve been working on. What makes her tick? As I was driving to – then walking around – Yorkton, it got me wondering where Lauren comes from, seeing the world through her eyes.
I found the house she grew up in.
There were the railway tracks running through town. The sound of the train horn, the pounding of the locomotives rumbled through her life.
I sat in a park out back of the RCMP detachment …
… and was able to see the place through her eyes.
In the alley, behind a brick building, I spotted chrome exhaust pipes. A quick walk revealed this barbecue/smoker. Lauren’s character began to form. In some inexplicable way I understood why she is tied to this place, and why she leaves.
When we stopped for gas at the Co-Op on a Friday evening, a young man pulled up in a green Dodge diesel pickup. He revved the engine, creating a noxious black cloud of smoke. Lauren had a strong reaction to his rolling coal. Now I think it might be possible to get back to the novel and react to events as she would.
Over and over again, travel becomes a rich environment for ideas.
It provides opportunities to breathe life into characters and settings. If you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, Saskatchewan has a definite `feel’. That fact became obvious when I saw these clouds gathering into a storm, it created a real sense for the way the air cools just before, and the way it smells just after. You can only write a scene like that when you’ve been there.
WHO IS Garry Ryan?
Since 2004 Garry Ryan has published nine novels with NeWest Press. The second, The Lucky Elephant Restaurant, won a 2007 Lambda Literary Award. In 2009, Ryan was awarded Calgary’s Freedom of Expression Award.