I’m delighted to have Zanne Marie Dyer with me today to share her transition from Christian clinical counseling to writing murder mysteries. She also has a fun giveaway. Thanks so much for being my guest today, Zanne. Please tell my readers a little about your writing journey.
As early as seven years old, I’d secretly ride my bike two miles, across a major highway, to get to the closest library. I’d sit on the library floor, like it was holy ground, pouring over books. Writing became a natural outflow of that young passion, scribbling ideas everywhere, even on my hands and arms. But life leads in many unexpected directions—mine led to a career in clinical counseling. My work put me in touch with many beautiful people, but where there are victims there are also offenders. It was at this same time, I met a few malignant criminal minds, up-close and personal. Strangely, these dark figures became an inspiration to not only write stories about crime and sociopaths, but to use words to bring light out of darkness.
You have me intrigued Zanne, the suggestion that writers should write what they know resonates with your work. Now, talk about your latest published project.
My suspense novel, Dark Motives, has been recently launched. I’ve stylized this murder mystery to make readers feels as if they’re walking real-time beside the main character, Detective Jet Wholeman, as he solves a case of abduction and murder. Jet has definite skills, but he also has some serious distractions—a struggling marriage and an alluring journalist, busy weaving her web of seduction. Another layer of challenges emerge with the development of a local terrorist cell. This story has enough going on to entertain both men and women.
One of my objectives in writing this book was to recruit men to Christian fiction. By far, women are the greatest fans of this genre. I believe the lack of male interest is due mainly to the watered-down men portrayed in today’s books. With this in mind, I created an alpha-male detective. Jet has an irresistible, boyish charm—the type women crush on—but he’s also a guy that men can relate to. Although Jet is a flawed character, in danger of losing everything he holds dear, he faces many of the same challenges of a real man, in a real world. I believe this is one of the most significant factors in making men such big fans of this book. And for the record, this is not just another story about death and danger, but about the greater threat of a man about to lose his eternal soul.
I love your desire to grab male readers. My husband has begun to read more fiction since he retired. Strong believable male characters are so crucial to a great story. How do you research your books?
My husband specializes in criminal law, so he’s my go-to person for legal and criminal procedure. Also, his work puts me within reach of local police officers and detectives who’ve been kind enough to help me out. But my favorite research is in true-crime podcasts and television shows like Forensic Files, Criminal Minds (I fast-forward the darkest parts) and The Mentalist. I also love geographical, boots-on-the-ground research, and for Dark Motives this was a cakewalk—Fort Lauderdale is my hometown. The land of ocean, sunshine, palm trees and copious crime.
What inspired you to write your book?
As I said earlier, my background in psychology played a major part in my writing. I counseled many victims of heinous and violent abuse. Some of the offenders were not only untreatable but had a sadistic enjoyment for the pain they inflicted—clinical sociopaths. Some were so evil I wondered how they could possibly co-exist with the rest of us. Most mental health experts would say a sociopath is a combination of genetics and experience, but my faith told me there was something more. My quest to understand the warped wiring of these almost sub-humans intensified. With all of the research and information I had floating around in my head, it was only a matter of time before I was compelled to write a murder mystery. As I wrote, I made an unexpected, personal discovery. I realized that while I enjoyed helping victims in the healing process, my greatest desire was to stop the evil causing their pain. Clearly this is God’s job, not mine, but we all have our own flawed fantasy of justice; mine just happens to be expressed in a crime/detective novel. Uniquely, an author can use her imaginary super-powers to create good and abolish evil. Writing a book on good versus evil is pretty empowering, but the real power is in the Christian message.
Another great inspiration has been Word Weavers International. This large group of Christian writers provide support on many levels, but for me, the most profound help came in the form of their critique groups. In this format, members read an excerpt of a writer’s work and give skillful feedback about technique and content.
Yes, Word Weavers is a wonderful group. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to improve their writing craft or a novice writer.
How did you create your story’s characters?
I think my characters are a combination of thousands of different people I’ve met throughout a lifetime. Some characters may be a combination of three separate people, others just pop out of my over-active imagination. But I’m sure I’ve met all my characters somewhere, at some time, and a few of them are still hanging around in the
dark corners of my unconscious mind.
When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?
Since the day I became a believer in Jesus Christ, my desire has been to live-out my passion for him. When I first started writing, I told the Lord—If one person, just one person, becomes a believer because of my words, then I’ll deem myself a success. And I’ve stuck to that.
Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?
Right now, I hold fast to a verse that I believe is most fitting for the times we live in. “Do not be overcome by evil,but overcome evil with good.” (Ro.12:21).
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self about writing, what would that be?
I’d tell myself—take writing classes! I’ve discovered writing is more than just fancy words and pretty adjectives. Stringing words together with clarity, visuals, and emotion is not only an art but a science.
That is so true. As a writer what is your favorite genre to read for fun?
To keep my writing sharp and up to date, I stick to the crime/detective genre.
But if I want to relax and escape, I go for historical fiction with a little romance thrown in.
Tell us, where is your favorite place to write?
I love a quiet place with a water view, but if I need a writing jolt, I run to the nearest coffee shop. But it’s much more than a caffeine fix I’m looking for. Somehow, the muted background noise of coffee dispensers, buttons and beeps, and quiet chatter seem to simultaneously calm and excite my brain neurons.
More about Zanne Marie Dyer
Zanne Marie Dyer resides in Daytona Beach with her husband and has three young adult children. As a former Christian Clinical Counselor, she became increasingly interested in the psychology of the criminal mind. Her dream to write has resulted in a new mystery murder novel, Dark Motives. She is now working on a sequel, focusing once more on Detective Jet Wholeman, and his unique style of tracking down homicidal killers. Additional projects include a series of devotionals on the mindset of being heaven-bound versus earth anchored.
Zanne is currently a Chaplain for Word Weavers International and provides periodic Christian counseling services at her local church. Her hobbies include water activities, painting, ballroom dancing, and spending time with her children and their families.
Connect with Zanne Marie Dyer:
Now for the GIVEAWAY
Zanne will do a giveaway for a copy of Dark Motives. Leave a comment here on the blog for a chance to win. A winner will be chosen from a drawing to receive a paperback copy. If you’re up to a fun challenge, please help name the killer/sociopath that will appear in her next novel. Simply add a first name in the comments section. This step is optional.
I know those who follow my blog are creative. Can’t wait to see the names you all post.
The drawing will be on Monday, September 28th, and Zanne will reach out to the winner for their contact information.