Saturday, June 30, 2018

Guest Post - Lida Sideris

Please welcome the wonderful Lida Sideris to Type M! Lida writes the Southern California Mystery series featuring newly-minted lawyer Corrie Locke. I first met Lida on an author panel at Book Carnival in Orange, CA featuring me, Lida and Diane Vallere. We all had a great time and I’ve enjoyed doing other events with Lida since then. Take it away, Lida...

Writing Short

by Lida Sideris

A few mystery novelists have told me it's not easy to write short. Short stories, that is. Yet others excel at crafting them. About a year ago, I read about a submission call for New England crime stories to be included in a short story anthology. I'm SoCal born and raised, but I did spend a little time in Boston recently. This was the perfect opportunity to experiment. I had nothing to lose by trying, right?

As the deadline for submission approached, I chained myself to my chair, using high-grade, escape-proof iron, all prepped to plow ahead with my short story. There was only one, small problem: I didn’t know what to write about. One thing I knew for certain: my setting would be Boston. The anthology required either New England based authors or settings. I knew the locale well, but who would be my hero/heroine?

I scanned Boston headlines and learned that the central police headquarters had a diverse pool of officers and a talented crew of cadets. One young police cadet caught my attention. She'd earned a commendation for helping detectives apprehend a felon. My heroine was born.

Meanwhile, I had another character swirling around in my head. A character based upon a real-life encounter I'd had with an older gent who'd visited my day job. I run a legal non-profit where we try to help those who've exhausted other sources of legal assistance. A cane-carrying senior citizen walked into my office one day, wearing big black shades and velcro sneakers. He needed help with an insurance matter, but right before he left, he added a little tidbit about being watched by the government. Guess who ended up in my short story? The mysterious senior was going to encounter my cadet. But what kind of encounter?

For me, the hardest part in writing a novel is the beginning. I discovered the same to be true for a short story. I like starting off with action, so I threw my heroine, Cadet Lyndrea Watson, into the police station, manning the front desk and nearing the end of her shift. Lyndrea needed to behave the way I imagined a young police cadet would behave: ever helpful, kind, responsible, and conscientious. Always striving to do her best. And she was doing just that when confronted by a cane-carrying older man wearing black, space invader type shades. He approached her, asked a few questions, and said he’ll wait for her outside. What did he want?

Reading more headlines helped me answer that question. Soon my cadet was tracking a suspected drug dealer in Boston Common. Nearly 5000 words later, a short story was born.

Lida Sideris is an author, lawyer, and all-around book enthusiast. She writes soft-boiled mysteries and was one of two national winners of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America scholarship award for her first novel, Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters. Murder Gone Missing is the second in her Southern California Mystery series and continues the misadventures of a newly-minted lawyer whose gene for caution is a recessive one. Lida's short story, "The Nut Job" was included in Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories published by Level Best Books in November 2017. Lida lives in the northern tip of SoCal with her family, rescue dogs and a flock of uppity chickens.


Frankie Y. Bailey said...

You did better than I, Lida. I live in Albany, New York and have been to New England multiple times. But I still haven't gotten around to submitting a story for the anthology.

Lida Sideris said...

Hi Frankie,
I bet you will when the time is right. I thought about writing a short story for a while before I actually did it. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and comment!

Lida Sideris said...

Thank you very much for hosting me today, Sybil. I appreciate it!

Sybil Johnson said...

Glad you could stop by, Lida. Always a pleasure. And you've inspired me to get back to writing short stories again.