WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     WWG —  Last week three Minnesota mystery  writers visited Westbrook to talk about their craft. The event was sponsored by the Westbrook Public Library which was made possible from a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.

    Authors Ellen Hart, Carl Brookins,  and  Kent Krueger spoke to the high school students and public and took questions from the audience.

    Hart talked about the early mystery writers noting that Edgar Allen Poe was one of the first true mystery writers. She said early English mystery writers tended to write about puzzles and their stories usually included violent crimes. In  the thirties, mystery writers took the crime out of the rose gardens and into the streets.

    Brookins writes crime novels that involves true discovery,  and solving problems. Brookins is a fast reader, he said, “I often read five or six books a week.”

    He enjoys writing mystery novels that include problem solving of a crime or murder. “It’s about investigation — it allows me a lot of flexibility in writing — I can do what I want to do,” he said.

    Hart talked about the  two kinds of novels — thriller and mystery. She said “you can write a story about a building being blown up. You can make it a thriller by writing the story before the event takes place, or after the fact.”

    She gets her  ideas from news, radio, television, and newspapers.

    Brookins said his ideas come from something as an overheard phrase.  

    Kent  Krueger gets some of his ideas from wrongly convicted people. He noted when you walk into a strange place like the “Loose Moose,” where we ate lunch, people tend to look at strangers. That can be a point in a crime where a stranger was seen just prior to a crime being committed.

    Brookins said once he creates a character he takes many notes about the character so he can keep the character accurate throughout the story.

    Hart likes to title her story and have a crime in mind. She then builds her characters around the crime. She then starts detailing the story in the first few chapters. She  said, “I like not knowing exactly what direction the story will take.”

    Krueger uses a different approach to his stories,  he takes many notes and prepares an outline which allows him to know how the story ends. “I like to fill in between the beginning and end of the story,” he said. “You have to be careful when noting the details of your characters,  because if you forget,  the readers will let you know.”

    All three  of the authors talked about how they got started in writing novels. All of them said they had several rejections before being published. Brookins said “self publishing has the same problem as traditional publishing,  there are a lot of writers competing for the book  market. However for the casual writer self publishing gives an affordable way of getting published.”