Sunday, December 4, 2011

Michele Drier's Edited for Death

Photo of Michele Drier, whose book Edited for Death came out recently from Mainly Murder Press.  She's blogging for me today.  JH


Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz to a pioneer family and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state and has called both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at large and small daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series. She lives in the Central Valley with cats, skunks, opossums and wild turkeys.

Her most recent book is the traditional mystery "Edited for Death", available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

To entice you: Amy Hobbes never expected to solve anything tougher than a crossword puzzle. When she left her job as a journalist in Southern California, she planned to give the adrenaline a rest, but her next job, managing editor of a local newspaper, delivers some surprises. After a respected Senator and World War II hero dies, and two more people turn up dead, the news heats up. Both victims had ties to a hotel owned by the Senator’s family. With the help of reporter pal Clarice and the new man in her life, Phil, Amy uncovers a number of shadowy figures, including a Holocaust survivor who has spent sixty years tracking down Nazi loot. It’s a complex and dangerous puzzle, but Amy can’t walk away until she solves it.
Visit her website at


Writing a Wrong
 I write. I’ve written news stories, magazine articles, white papers, grants, solicitation letters (not THAT kind) and in the last two years, two novels.

Even though I didn’t set out to write for a living, I liked explaining things to people. I could have chosen teaching, but instead I chose being a journalist. Ranging from a staff writer at the San Jose Mercury-News to the Executive Editor of the Manteca Bulletin, I left and came back to my newspaper career a couple of times.

In between stints in the media, I made a career of managing non-profits agencies, large and small. And there, I wrote grants, position papers for government departments, draft legislation, annual reports and fund-raising letters.

So I guess I’m a writer and because of that, over the years, I’ve threatened to write Strongly Worded Letters to a variety of people. One most recent was going to go to my local Congress member about the TSA personnel at Sea-Tac Airport. I’d flown up from California to watch my youngest niece graduate from high school and packed a new can of hair spray.

Nobody at my originating airport (large, metro, international) batted an eye.  They waved me through, but on my return flight, I was asked to pull up my sweater (granted, it was bulky—so am I), was wanded and pulled over to have my carry-on searched. Turns out the can of hair spray, which breezed through in one airport, was a no-no in Sea-Tac and, after 20 minutes of rude and invasive orders by three TSA people (including one who asked "Can’t you read?") I was given the choice of buying a baggage check for the hair spray ($25), taking it home (!!!) or throwing it away ($15), I was out a new can, humiliated, and embarrassed in front of about 150 strangers.

Now, I’ve traveled a fair amount, including three trips to Europe after 9/11. I watched luggage being blown up in De Gaulle in Paris, had my purse searched on a flight from London to Dublin and been politely questioned by English security after coming in from Greece. In all of these cases, the questioners were polite and explained what was happening.

The Sea-Tac experience was going to be a Very Strongly Worded Letter.

By the time I got home, I simmered down. No letter was written. But I haven’t forgotten the incident, the people or my humiliation.

As writers, we all have these incidents. Sometimes it’s years of humiliation or anger at a person or event. Sometimes it’s just an everyday occurrence that steams us. What we do have, though, is an outlet for our feelings of anger, humiliation or frustration.

We write about it.

Maybe it’s using that person’s name in your latest book for a nasty.

Maybe it’s putting your characters in a situation and letting them blast away at the know-nothings who acted as pompous fools.

Maybe it’s using the event as a springboard for a short story or novel.

We’re lucky because using the incidents as fodder for our storytelling allows us to write the Strongly Worded Letter in a form that reaches a broader audience.

I haven’t yet figured out where I’m going to use my TSA experience, but in some future book, the protagonist is going to run across these rude people and get even. Maybe they’ll get fired, maybe an irate traveler will punch them out, maybe their supervisor will get tired of complaints about them and publically castigate them. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but something surely will, and I’ll have my cold dish of revenge without endangering anyone!

What a great way to communicate and write a wrong!



  1. I would've loved to read that letter, Michele! You're right--these are incidents that are hard to forget. I still have in my mind the time that I, a normally safe and cautious driver, went through a red light on a sleepy corner, where I actually never realized before there even was a light (I guess it was always green). A woman drove up next to me and indicated I should roll down my window. Then she proceeded to excoriate me about my error (which I hadn't realized), concluding with, "And there's a child in your back seat!" as if I was also an unfit mother.

    I drove off, muttering all the responses I should've made, which involved not being judge and executioner, one day she might make a mistake, all at great length and with great bile.

    My sister said I should've looked at her blankly and said, "There's a child in my car?!"

  2. Letters to the editor are one good way to let people know about wrongs in society. Writing a good letter does require skill. But as fiction writers, we can also redress wrongs.