Five Things that Influence my Writing: Susan McBride

Five Books/Music/Movies that Influence My Writing
by Susan McBride

1. Def Leppard. I don’t listen to music while I write, or I end up jamming and not working. But if you read my books, you’ll find musical references peppered throughout, often involving Def Leppard. Not coincidentally, Andy Kendricks, the protag of my Debutante Dropout series, loves the Leps, too. She uses their music as ringtones and plays songs from their repertoire while driving and pondering whodunit. Def Leppard makes me want to write the way they play: my brain rocking out as I pound words onto the page and always going for the high notes even if I have to scream them.

2. Nancy Drew. I was a voracious ND fan growing up. I’ve preserved my books with the yellow spines to give to my daughter someday. Nancy was and is my idol. Despite being motherless and nearly fatherless (her dad sure traveled a lot), she managed to stay on course. No wild parties, getting knocked up or kicked out of school for Nancy. No, siree, Bob. Girl had her red head on straight. So how could I not make Andy Kendricks’s mantra for crime-solving “What Would Nancy Do?” Through Andy, I can be Nancy, too.

3. The Sixth Sense. I still remember squirming in my seat the first time I saw this film. “Something’s not right,” my mind kept telling me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it, not for a while anyway. Like an amateur sleuth who puzzles out the solution before the cops, I was desperate to figure it out. And when I did, I thought, “Brilliant!” What it taught me was this: who tells your story and how they tell it can be the difference between “ho-hum” and “OMG!”

4. Harry Potter. I read these books straight through during radiation therapy after breast cancer surgery. To say I needed to escape is an understatement. HP’s magical world of wizards was just the ticket. No, JK Rowling is not the most finessed writer in the English language, but she is a magnificent storyteller. I was swept away and left marveling at her brilliant and wicked brain. A pensieve into which one drops their memories…the game of Quidditch where teams fly on broomsticks…Muggles and Mudbloods and Mandrakes, oh, my! Harry Potter is one of the reasons I took a vacation from mystery writing and dipped my toes into magical realism. And, yes, thanks, I had a lovely time.

5. Disney Movies. I hadn’t given much thought to Disney in my adulthood, not before I had Emily three years ago. Sure, I watched plenty of Disney flicks in my youth, but none of the newer ones (er, like anything 21st century). Submerging myself in modern Disney reminds me of what I love most about writing mysteries: pitting good against evil and putting my protagonist through a whole lot of s**t before the dust settles. Although unlike Disney, my protags don’t wear harem pants or seashell bustiers, and they rarely need princes to save them.

Susan McBride
Susan McBride is the USA Today bestselling author of Blue Blood, the first of the Debutante Dropout Mysteries. The award-winning series includes The Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club,Night of the Living Deb, and Too Pretty to Die. She’s also the author of The Truth About Love and Lightning, Little Black Dress, and The Cougar Club, all Target Recommended Reads. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and daughter. SAY YES TO THE DRESS, the latest in the Debutante Dropout series, came out this week. She can be found on Facebook.