Inspiration for a Novel by Earl Staggs


On the first night, the instructor announced, “By the end of this class, each of you will have written a short mystery story.”
Wow. When I signed up for a writing class at the community college, I thought someone was going to teach me how to write, not make me write something right away. Okay, I decided, she’s a writing professor and if she says we can do it, we can.
We had to come up with a protagonist, of course. After a lot of thought, I decided to write about a private eye with a psychic gift. I’d always been interested in psychic phenomena and loved reading about real-life psychics using their gift to help law enforcement agencies solve crimes. I named him Adam Kingston. He wouldn’t see dead people. A medium does that, not a psychic. When he touched an object related to a crime or visited a crime scene, he would receive fleeting images which might lead him in the right direction or might only confuse him. That’s how it is with real-life psychics. Sometimes they don’t understand what they see. As Adam himself explains, “It’s not an exact science.”

By the end of the class, as the instructor said, I finished my short story. I called it “The Missing Sniper.” After a few rejections, followed by lots and lots of rewrites, the story was accepted by both a print magazine and an ezine and appeared in both at the same time. Never before or since then have I known that to happen.
I received a lot of excellent feedback about the story. People seemed to like Adam Kingston and how he used his gift. That led me to the crazy idea of featuring him in a novel. That’s when I learned how little I knew about writing a book.

For the next couple years, I read a lot of books telling how to write books as I pushed ahead one chapter at a time. Eventually, after what seemed like a lifetime in rewrite hell, my novel was finished. Another two years dragged by before MEMORY OF A MURDER was actually published, and I’m happy to say it received a long list of Five Star reviews.
You can read Chapter One of MEMORY OF A MURDER on my website at

The short story that inspired me to write the novel, is available now in ebook form.  “The Missing Sniper” costs $1.15 to download to any ereader at:

If you like short mysteries, you can check out SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS, a collection of sixteen of my published stories at: on sale for $0.99 until the end of April.

Derringer Award winning author Earl Staggs has seen many of his short stories published in magazines and anthologies. His novel MEMORY OF A MURDER earned a long list of Five Star reviews. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine and as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. He is also a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery and is a frequent speaker at conferences and writers groups.  Email:  Website:

Thank you, Marilyn, for hosting me here today. And thanks to everyone who stopped by. Please leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing on April 29. The first name drawn will receive a signed copy of MEMORY OF A MURDER. The second name drawn will have a choice of a print or ebook copy of SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS.

(Did you notice on Earl's book cover, one eye is blue, the other brown? As the kids would say, way cool.)


Jean Henry Mead said…
I enjoy your work, Earl, and share your fascination with psychics, some of whom truly have the "gift."
Jake said…
Great and generous story-teller. Always appreciate environmentally interested. Looking forward to more of your stories. Thank you Marilyn for bringing Earl over for a visit.
Kaye Barley said…
Hi, Earl! I keep following you around and learning new stuff. I'm especially interested right now in this "rewrite hell" you speak of. (grin)
M.M. Gornell said…
Love your posts, Earl! So interesting learning where other authors get their inspiration. Love these tours.

Anne K. Albert said…
'Rewrite Hell' paints a picture, Earl. As do those years of reading how-to write books (because I did exactly the same thing)! I really enjoyed your story of how Adam Kingston came to be, and his claim it's not an exact science. But then, neither is writing!
marja said…
You went with something you knew you'd enjoy writing about, and it worked. Good job, Earl! I'm also enjoying getting to know more about you.
Earl Staggs said…
Jean, while writing the book, I met and talked with several real psychics. I was amazed. Some are frauds, but some are genuine.

Thanks for your comments, Jake. We all appreciate you in this tour.

Kaye, trust me, you will get to know "rewrite hell" soon enough.

I'm loving the tour, too, Madeline, and have always liked hearing the story behind a story.

Hi, cousin Anne. More and more I think we're related. I loved "neither is writing." So true.

Marja, if we don't enjoy what we're writing about, it can get very boring -- for us and our readers.

Thanks for the time here, Marilyn. You're a great hostess.
Mary Martinez said…
Earl, I've been to rewrite hell and back, I understand completely. In fact, I'm in the middle of it now.

Thanks for the great post!
Having Earl on board has been a delight. Please come back and visit again soon.
Earl Staggs said…
Thanks for having me, Marilyn. I'd love to come back again sometime.

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