The Influence of Weather on Reading & in Mysteries

Jan 24, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Marilyn Meredith, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Marilyn Meredith

While all the snow was falling in the East and Midwest, and even in some Southern States, the one thing people on Facebook and DorothyL kept writing was, “It’s a good time to read,” proving there’s nothing like a good book to make you forget excessive snow, icy roads, and freezing temperatures.snow

Sometimes when you’re reading a book, the author is so skillful at describing the weather that you shiver when it’s nearing 100 degrees, or start to sweat even though the temperature is in the teens or less. Two authors expert at this are William Kent Krueger with wintery scenes, and of course James Lee Burke describing summers in Louisiana. The weather contributes a lot to heighten the suspense in both authors’ mysteries.

When reading new authors sometimes I’ve been disappointed by the fact the weather factor is missing. I’ve written articles about the importance of using weather in books. Weather can set a mood, heighten tension, contrast with what’s happening, and sometimes be an integral part of the plot. Not using weather, is much like leaving out an important character.

bookAs an author, I’ve used weather in many ways. In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, because they are set in the Southern Sierras, the higher level of the mountains have given me opportunities to use excessive rain, snow, and even drought conditions which bring on forest fires—all fodder for plotting.

In my Rocky Bluff series, because the setting is along the Southern California coast, the weather is not as fierce, but there is often fog to contend with which can add a great deal of suspense to a story.

Marilyn Meredith is a Springville, CA mystery author and an ongoing contributor to our Mystery section. Be sure to visit her website; fictionforyou.com

2 Comments

  1. So interesting. You’re absolutely right. That said, my excuse for avoiding any mention of weather, is because it’s the main topic of conversation in every verbal exchange in the UK. One of my [many] blind spots.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Maddy. Weather doesn’t need to dominate, but it helps the reader have a “feel” for what it’s like where the characters are.

      Reply

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