June News!

We live in a Los Angles suburb that’s often described as quiet and serene. However, there is always someone in our neighborhood who is remodeling which entails the use of jackhammers, cement mixers, and near endless nail pounding. Last year, the neighbor behind us put in a swimming pool. The construction went on for months with a variety of loud machines beginning work early each morning. We can peek over the backyard wall and see a splendid pool and deck, but was it really worth all the noise? I hope so.

Another nearby house is being completely remodeled which requires a large crew and half a dozen pickup trucks that take up so much of the street only one car can creep by at a time. I can easily avoid the street, but the noise carries down the block and around the corner.

Today, workers are removing concrete on the front circular drive at the private school across the street. My fillings have begun to ache. It’s also inspired me to consider how I use background sounds in my stories. The rush of an urban setting is exciting, but near deafening in person. In writing, the challenge is to isolate a sound or two, a distant siren, shouts between friends, a street musician’s tunes, and the hurried steps of people passing by. Lively city sounds give the reader a real sense of place. Rural locations can be almost too quiet, but squirrels still chatter as they chase each other through the treetops, birds sing, or an airplane flies by overhead. The hum of a car coming up the country road can take on an ominous ring. I love the beach, and often set stories near the ocean where the constant wash of incoming waves sets its own haunting rhythm. 

I recently volunteered to help with the Foley work, or sound effects, for a radio play performed at my church. Two of us had to provide the correct sound, a telephone ringing, an alarm clock going off, or a door slamming, and take care to produce it at precisely the instant the script required. It was fun, but gave us great respect for the Foley artists who work in films.

The workers have taken a break across the street. While it’s quiet, I’ll work on my latest Joe Ezell mystery, MURDER IN STILETTOS. Can you imagine the sound of someone fleeing a murder scene in stiletto heels wicked enough to kill? I sure hope so. MURDER ME TWICE, STAIRWAY TO MURDER, and coming soon, MURDER ON ICE, make up the series thus far. If you love mysteries, give these books a try.