The Mystery of a Mystery – M.K. Tod

By Carol / September 6, 2016 /

M.K. Tod wrote and indie-published two successful historical novels set during World War I. Her newest novel Time and Regret – published this month by Lake Union Publishing – stays true to Tod’s historical expertise while branching into new territory – mystery.TodMK-TimeandRegret-22790-CV-FT

Writing in a new genre stretches an author, and as a fan of her historical writing, I’m pleased to report that Tod not only stays true to her historical fiction core but also does a fine job weaving in a mystery. To read my review, click here.

I asked her to share her thoughts on why mysteries are so appealing and how she worked that into her new novel. This is what she said.

The Mystery of a Mystery
by M.K. Tod

Attracted by the front cover, you take the book off the shelf, peruse the brief description on the back and decide, yes, this is my type of book. A mystery.

Mysteries conjure excitement, the thrill of danger, the nail-biting question of will they or won’t they solve it in time. And then there’s the thrill of sleuthing as you become the detective, the cop, or the amateur accidentally stuck in the midst of a crime.

My new novel – Time and Regret – is a mystery with multiple timelines and a romance to sweeten the deal. In writing it – my first mystery – I’ve had to think a lot about this genre’s enduring appeal.

What is it about mysteries that makes them so satisfying? Why do some people read almost nothing else? Author Melissa Bourbon Ramirez offers this opinion: “I think one reason people love reading mysteries is because they are a safe thrill, kind of like roller coasters when you’re a kid.  They’re a safe adventure, as well.  Just as in any other type of book, we get to visit exotic or interesting places.  You can see the dark side of people, but you know that justice will prevail.  Good will overcome evil.”

Author Nancy Curteman has a different take: “Mystery readers are intelligent people. The mystery story appeals to their sense of curiosity. They enjoy action. They love to analyze the psychological makeup and motivational drives of characters. Most mystery readers are as interested in how and why a crime is committed as they are in who committed it. Sifting through clues and red herrings as the story progresses adds challenge.”

Other reasons have been put forward: to understand the behavior of criminals and the criminal mind; to live the intense emotions involved in crime; to vicariously experience a world of suspense, secrets, excitement and danger; to create order out of disorder and justice out of crime.

And then there’s the detective—typically a flawed but heroic figure who overcomes major obstacles while often making a mess of his or her own life. We can see ourselves in this individual and we root for them to successfully solve the crime while resolving some of their own life problems.

Here’s the premise of Time and Regret.

Time and Regret: A cryptic letter. A family secret. A search for answers.
When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long buried secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determine to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and is suddenly aware that someone is following her.

When I set out to write Time and Regret, I didn’t fully appreciate the expectations involved. Gradually, I added more to the story: more subtle clues, more plot twists, more danger, more violence, more dead ends. I made my heroine more conflicted and gave her a difficult childhood and I added flaws to my other characters. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote the ending.

Does it work? Will it satisfy the needs of mystery readers? Readers will be the judge because another thing I’ve discovered is that no two readers are the same—and that is the biggest part of the mystery of writing.

Find Time and Regret on Amazon:

Amazon US 

Amazon Canada 

Amazon UK 

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website

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  1. M.K. Tod on September 6, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Many thanks for hosting me today, Carol. I enjoyed writing the post and hope your readers find it interesting. Warm wishes, M.K. (Mary) Tod

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 6, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      Delighted to share your book with my readers, Mary. Those who check it out won’t be disappointed.

  2. Paulette Mahurin on September 7, 2016 at 8:31 am

    I can see how the cover and perusing the synopsis would entice a hist fiction lover. Thanks for sharing this. Looks like a great read.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 7, 2016 at 8:45 am

      There’s much going on in this cover. It definitely conveys historical fiction, and the woman suggests romance. Lots to like. Thanks for stopping by, Paulette.

    • M.K. Tod on September 7, 2016 at 6:29 pm

      So pleased you liked the cover, Paulette. Although we say ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’, it’s great to have a cover that attracts attention! All best, M.K. (Mary) Tod

  3. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on September 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    I used to love the Nancy Drew books in my pre-teen reading days, but have not read much in the mystery genre in my adult years. One of my book club members suggested Louise Penny mysteries, and I just enjoyed the one I read so much! Her writing is excellent.
    The combination of mystery and historical fiction in the book you reviewed intrigues me.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 7, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      Nancy Drew was one of my favorites, too, Elfrieda. I can’t believe we let the entire shelf of Nancy Drew books go when we sold the farm. I’d love to have them now to pass along to my granddaughters.

      Since you enjoy historical fiction and are dipping your toe into mysteries again, “Time and Regret” could be perfect for you.

      I, too, have lately re-connected with mysteries. P.D. James is another author whose mysteries set in England you might check out.

    • M.K. Tod on September 7, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      I’m glad you’re intrigued, Elfrieda. Incorporating a mystery was actually my husband’s idea! He reads about 80% mysteries and helped me outline the story. I hope you’ll try it. All best, M.K. Tod

  4. Merril Smith on September 7, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Good luck to M.K. Tod. The book sounds interesting. 🙂

    • M.K. Tod on September 7, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Many thanks, Merril. Let me know if you give it a try!! Happy reading, M.K. (Mary) Tod

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