Did you ever have one of those days? You know the kind, when nothing seems to go right? Richie has.
In DEATH AND WHITE DIAMONDS, Richie’s girlfriend suggests a romantic getaway, promising him a weekend he will never forget. So why can’t he remember what happened, when he finds her lifeless body on the beach? Richie is fairly certain he didn’t kill his girlfriend, but his memory is hazy. One thing, however, is clear. When Lorraine’s body is found, he’s going to be the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Disposing of the body turns out to be harder than Richie could have imagined. Losing it, however, is easy.
When he’s not writing or at his day job, you can find Jeff Markowitz blogging. In doing a little research, I stumbled upon a most interesting post. On March 3, 2014, he wrote:
Some of you are familiar with a writing exercise that I refer to as finding the dead body. It is an exercise in finding story ideas. Over the years, I have found dead bodies in all sorts of settings—an elevator at the Kennedy Center, a middle-eastern bar on M Street in Georgetown, at O’Hare, floating in the water off of Fells Point, on Amtrak, and on the beach in Cape May. Each time that I find a body, I write a couple of sentences and file it away. Later, it might become a story. Or not.
DEATH AND WHITE DIAMONDS became a story. On April 13, 2006, he had written:
Walking through the dunes late at night, the surf is angry. The weather has changed, clouds blocking out the stars, wind whipping the surf into a frenzy. At high tide the beach is mostly gone, the rhythm of the waves pounding on the shore, washing away the evidence. In the distance, the lights of a lonely freighter spending another night on the water. There is a chill in the air. I barely notice. The knife is still warm in my hand.
It only took him until the summer of 2013 to write the sixty-three thousand words that turned a story idea into a book that Intrigue Publishing published.
I find it intriguing that you find your ideas by “finding the dead body.” How many books have you written using this technique?
“Finding the dead body” is a writing exercise akin to a musician practicing his scales. The dead body floating in the water off of Fells Point became a short story called “Gilligan Finds a Body,” which was published a couple of years ago in Mysterical-E. DEATH AND WHITE DIAMONDS is the first book to have its origin in this technique, but it will not be the last. I recently stumbled upon a quote (I wish I could remember the author) to the effect that neither the detective nor the killer is the central character in a mystery. The dead body is. So I’m dusting off a few of those dead bodies and auditioning them for the lead in my next book.
Readers describe your work as “subtle” and sometimes more “blatant,” but they all seem to agree, you are a funny guy. And you describe yourself as writing darkly comic mysteries/thrillers. Does funny just come naturally, or do you purposefully take a dark subject and put a comic spin on it?
I didn’t set out to write humorous stories. I set out to write stories that reflect my worldview. My readers seem to find that worldview humorous. Of course, I’ve met some of my readers and they are deeply disturbed.
I read in your bio that you are the founder and executive director of a network of programs and services for adults with autism. Do you ever incorporate your day job into your work, and—if so—how to you use it?
I am proud of the work that I have done in service to individuals with autism, but, with the exception of one short story, “State Home for the Holidays,” I have not written fictionally about my experience.
You have written three books in the Cassie O’Malley Mystery series and now your first stand-alone, DEATH AND WHITE DIAMONDS. What is next on the docket?
Next on the docket is a row of businessmen drinking on expense accounts in a Middle Eastern bar on M Street paying scant attention to the dead belly dancer on the barroom floor.
After visiting his blog and getting lost in the posts—I have to concur—Jeff Markowitz is a funny guy. His blog posts reflect a sense of humor, a depth of insight about writing and life, and some quirky stuff (read his About and you’ll see what I mean). To see him in person, check the events page on his website. Meanwhile, pick up a copy of DEATH AND WHITE DIAMONDS. I promise, you’ll be laughing from the start of Richie’s “one of those days” all the way to the end.
Jeff Markowitz is the author of the Cassie O’Malley Mysteries, an amateur sleuth mystery series set deep in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. He loves to write early in the morning. “You can usually find me at my computer at five-thirty in the morning plotting someone’s murder.” When he’s not out looking for dead bodies, Jeff keeps busy as the founder and executive director of a network of programs and services for adults with autism. Jeff is a proud member of the Mystery Writers of America. The darkly comic mystery/thriller, DEATH AND WHITE DIAMONDS is his first book for Intrigue Publishing.
To learn more about Jeff, please visit his website.