BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Writing A Mystery From A Woman's Perspective: A Guest Post by Tom Mach

Mystery author Tom Mach is joining us today. His book, "An Innocent Murdered" was released by Amazon.

Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011.Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.

His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants. His website is: He also has a popular blog for writers of both prose and verse at 

  BOOK BLURB (from author):

 Father O'Fallon has been murdered, and police officer Jacinta Perez is arrested and charged. Detective Matt Gunnison, however, is not convinced and with the help of Susan, an ex-nun, he discovers a fascinating link between the priest's death and the death of a child 25 years ago. Will Matt be able to solve both murders? See video:   

Format: ebook
Length: 310 KB
Release Date: OUT NOW

Thank you Tom for visiting today and sharing a short excerpt and taking the time to sit and share your thoughts with us.

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Still facing the wall, the priest began to sob. “Can’t we talk about this?”

She slipped the Smith & Wesson into her pocket and removed a knife from her bag. “There’s nothing to talk about, you son of a bitch.”

He dropped his hands for a moment. “Please let me at least say a prayer.”

“Go ahead and beg for God’s mercy, you pervert!”

He made the sign of the cross with his crucifix. “Oh my God,” he muttered, “I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.”

As she slashed his throat he made a high-pitched squeal. His body slumped to the floor. She plunged the knife into his abdomen. He made a gagging sound from his throat as if he were drowning in his own blood. She plunged the knife into him again. And again. And again.

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Guest Post

Writing a Mystery from a Woman’s Perspective

   It is always a challenge for man to put himself into a woman’s frame of mind when writing any story, whether it be a contemporary mystery of a historical novel. In the past I’ve had difficulty in writing stories from a female perspective because I’ve read novels about women--written by men--which describe a woman’s physical attributes without much care given to her thoughts, feelings, and dialogue. I’ve since learned that in order to be successful at this, one had to actually pretend that he actually was a female and use all of his past experiences with women to understand them well enough to write about them. That’s what I believe happened when I wrote my first two novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, about a 19th century woman named Jessica Radford. Everything about Jessica became alive for me--not only what she looked like, but how she dressed, how she talked, how she reacted to men vs. women, what her thoughts and motivations were, and how she’d respond to a crisis. When I wrote both of those novels, I was Jessica Radford. I thought about her constantly, visualizing her, talking to her, and reading her thoughts--and I did this so often that I believe my wife thought I was having an affair with Jessica.

 While there were mysterious elements in both of those historical novels, my first murder mystery involving a female detective evolved as a short story for my anthology Stories To Enjoy. The story was entitled “The Crossword Puzzle Murders” in which Detective Agatha Pulaski investigates a mass murder and arrives at the realization of who the suspect was only moments before her own life is in serious jeopardy. In my latest novel, An Innocent Murdered, the detective is a male named Matt Gunnison. However, several women play key roles in this novel and I had to see things from their perspective. First, there is the prime suspect in the murder of priest and her name is Jacinta Perez. While she is a loving mother of two children, she flies into a murderous rage when one of her children is harmed. Then there is a woman named Susan Stratford, who is a former nun who plays an important part in helping Matt uncover clues leading to the real murderer of the priest. Having been a virgin for 46 years of her life, Susan wants Matt to be the man with whom she could experience sexual intercourse. Asking a friend like Matt to do this would be uncomfortable situation for any decent woman and I had to put myself in her shoes--she still has strong religious convictions, feels awkward with men, senses a deep curiosity about a sexual experience although not ready to get married, and has tremendous guilt in going through with a strictly physical relationship. There are two other women in this novel--both potential murderers of the priest, but each with a unique personality. I had to get into their minds and think as they think. I am strongly aware of the fact that men and women are inclined to look at life differently. Women tend to be more involved with deep-rooted feelings and interpersonal relationships. Sometimes they just want someone to be there for them, whereas a man is more inclined to be the problem solver to someone who is upset rather than to simply give that same someone silent comfort.

 While I have not yet written a historical murder mystery, the greatest challenge would be in understanding the limitations of evidence. For instance, there was no such thing as DNA evidence or a central fingerprint bank or hidden cameras back in the 19th century. People dressed differently, talked differently, and even killed differently. And of course, there was no such person as a female detective back then as well.

 Even so, I still believe the biggest challenge for a male writer is to write like a woman, talk like a woman, act like a woman, and think like a woman. I hope I’ve met that challenge in An Innocent Murdered.

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Tom is on a blog tour to promote "An Innocent Murdered". As part of that tour, he is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to be given to the commenter that he feels leaves the best comment. That's not just for this blog but for all the blogs on his tour. The winner's name will be posted on the blog tour site and you can check there for other sites.


  1. I suppose I always assumed that a man would write only from a man's perspective and a woman from a woman's. It's not something I had actually thought about before. This is another reason why you follow blog tours, to be open to new thoughts & ideas.


  2. I saw this review before, but had to let you know that it sounds like a book I would like to read.

  3. Interesting post today. Most of the stories I read are written by women where parts of the book are from the hero's POV. Haven't really read than many books written by men so it will be interesting to read your book and those female POV parts.

    I was just reading the first few chapters at Amazon and it seems like it has a pretty good set-up for the mystery of the story.

  4. Hi Mary--

    Thanks for your comment on Bea's Book Nook blog about the fact that you always assumed only a man can write from a man's perspective. While I admit it's a lot easier I think for a man to write from a woman's perspective really requires a lot of thinking about a woman, removing preconceived opinions, and basing your knowledge on how women really think, act, dress, and fee. In AN INNOCENT MURDERED I worked hard to put myself in a a woman's shoes and I drew upon a lot experiences I had with my wife, my daughter, and my female friends to do that. I think I've succeeded, but I would like to hear back from you on this if you read my book.
    Thanks again for your comment.

  5. MomJane--

    I remember you commenting about AN INNOCENT MURDERED on a different blog and I hope I remembered to thank you for that one as well. If you do read this novel, would you please let me know what you think of it? I highly value reviews from readers such as yourself.

  6. Karen H--

    On Bee's Nook Book blog you mentioned that most of the stories you reader where parts of the book are taken from the hero's POV. Writing a book from a woman's POV is challenging for a man and some male writers just can't pull it off. I think I've succeeded because I fully saturate myself in the mind and soul of a woman, who often thinks and feels and acts differently about certain situations than a man. Women who have read my previous books tell me that I'm "right on" so I guess I have succeeded with AN INNOCENT MURDERED as well.

    But I highly value your opinion. If you read my novel, would you please drop me a note and let me know if you were satisfied with the way I handled a woman's role?

  7. You other blog post really goes nicely hand-in-hand with this one -- where you mention becoming absorbed in your characters. It sounds like you get truly caught up in your work!

  8. This was a very insightful post. I think you're spot on! It is a challenge to write from a different view than your own. Hats off to you Tom for being up for the challenge!



  9. Mysti Holiday---

    Yes, Mysti, I think my comments do go hand-in-hand with what I said in my earlier posts. I know it sounds strange for a male writer to admit that he IS the female character he's writing about. But how else would he be able to make her come fully alive for the reader. Hope you'll send me a comment of AN INNOCENT MURDERED after you've read it.

  10. Stacey Donaldson--

    So nice to hear from you. Actually, the characters in my other books are also written from their POV and not mine. It's hard to write about someone being cruel or a murderer, but one lesson I learned is to always give the evil person at least one admirable trait. In SISSY! I had a mutliple murderer named Sam being especially kind to dogs.

    Hope you will give me a review of AN INNOCENT MURDERED. Thanks for your comments.

  11. Stacey Donaldson--

    So nice to hear from you. Actually, the characters in my other books are also written from their POV and not mine. It's hard to write about someone being cruel or a murderer, but one lesson I learned is to always give the evil person at least one admirable trait. In SISSY! I had a mutliple murderer named Sam being especially kind to dogs.

    Hope you will give me a review of AN INNOCENT MURDERED. Thanks for your comments.

  12. Bea--

    Thanks for the invitation. I love your blog!

  13. Tom, thank you so much for taking the time to write your post and for responding to people's comments. I appreciate it. Best of luck with your book.

  14. I think that Henry James did the best job of a male writer writing from the female POV. It's a real gift. It's also a great way to exercise alternative thinking skills.

    My Library doesn't have a copy of your poetry book The Uni Verse but I'm going to borrow it through interlibrary loan. Can't wait to read it.

    Catherine Lee

  15. Catherine Lee--

    Thanks so much for your comments concerning AN INNOCENT MURDERED. Yes, Henry James did an outstanding job in seeing things from a womacn's POV. Concerning my poetry book, The Uni Verse, if you want your own paper copy it's only $10 ppd. If interested, contact me through www(DOT)TomMach(DOT)com


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoy hearing from my readers. Let's talk!