Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction – Also Less Believable

Lauren Carr gave up her career of writing mysteries for television and stage to try her hand at writing novels. She wrote A Small Case of Murder while staying at home with her young son. Her first book, A Small Case of Murder, was named finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Old Love Dies Hard is Lauren’s fourth book. She learned to love mysteries as a child when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime.  She resides in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Lauren has a brand new website—

and her brand new blog will be debuting very soon—

From the Writer’s Studio

Writers are always on the hunt for story ideas. Even when we’re working on a book, as I am now, we’re on the lookout for ideas that we can use for our next book. One of those places we look for ideas is the news. What a better place than to steal—I mean borrow—an idea for a murder mystery than from a killer who’s already tested it out?

It isn’t like the killer in jail is going to hire a lawyer and sue me for stealing his idea. Wait a minute. Did I just give some lawyers an idea? Forget I said that.

As I was saying, I was perusing the local newspaper when I happened upon a hilarious front page article about a woman who was arrested for possession with intent to sell and being in possession of an illegal firearm after calling the police on herself.

Apparently, the lady had partaken of too much of her own merchandise along with a few cases of beer and became a little paranoid. So she called the cops to report that someone was in her house. The police arrived and, seeing a very inebriated woman sitting amongst a pile of beer cans, suggested that she sleep it off.

This was where she really made her mistake.

Refusing to let the police leave, she ordered them to search her house.

During their search, the police found her marijuana garden in the back yard and the crack pipe and cocaine in the process of being divided up for distribution at the kitchen table.

But wait, there’s more.

She then claimed that the person that was in her house had stolen her cell phone. So, the police called her number and followed the ring upstairs to her bedroom where they found more illegal goodies (gun, etc) in her purse—along with the missing cell phone.

Upon reading this, I laughed so hard that I had to call a friend who said I was making it up.

Maybe it’s because I make things up for a living.

Yes, fiction is not real, but it has to be believable, which my friend claimed this story was not.

It is surprising what people will believe and not believe.

When writing my first book, A Small Case of Murder, I had placed the Hancock County prosecutor’s office on the top floor of a five-story building in New Cumberland, West Virginia. When I learned that   New Cumberland had no five story buildings, I decided to do some research and called the county prosecutor to ask for a tour of his office. At this time, I learned that the Hancock County prosecutor has a corner office in the basement of an abandoned school building directly across the parking lot from the court house.

I can’t tell you how many readers find that unbelievable, to which I say, “Call him and ask him yourself. He’s still in that basement.”

However, many people have no problem believing that a dead body was once found in the barn on my family farm, which I have placed in the book. My brother, who now lives on the farm, says he regularly has to tell people that there was never any dead body found in his barn.

It is also ironic that no one seems to have any problem believing a dog can be arrested for shoplifting, which almost happened to Gnarly in the opening of Old Loves Die Hard. Like most of my story ideas, I did not make this up. If you don’t believe me look at the surveillance video that found its way to You Tube. Doggie Shoplifter Steals Dog Bone! . (I’m glad Gnarly made a clean getaway.)

Maybe it all depends on how you tell the story.

Recently, at a library book event, the director told me about a conversation she had with a patron. Suffering from night blindness, the director had to get home before dark. When telling this patron that she had to leave because it was getting dark, she asked in all seriousness, “Is it a vampire thing?”

Of course, if the director was a vampire, then she would want to be out at night. Maybe the patron meant she had to get home because she was afraid of the vampires getting her. In either case, the patron truly did believe in vampires.

I find it amazing how many people believe in vampires since Stephanie Meyer’s book Twilight. Nobody cared about vampires before her book. A google search under “vampire believers” comes up with 1.8 million sites. That’s a lot of believers in vampires.

Maybe people believe what they want to believe.

My friend didn’t want to believe someone could be so trashed that she would call the police on herself and insist they search her marijuana garden, so she refused to believe me.

They don’t want to believe the chief legal eagle of a small West Virginia county would be housed in an abandoned school building—but it is a corner office.

People want to believe in undying love between vampire and lovely teenage girl so they convince themselves its real.

They also want to believe a bold and daring German shepherd can walk into a store and shoplift a rawhide bone and get away with it.

It’s all in how you tell the story.