GLENS FALLS — Last year, after meeting at a book signing at Northshire Books in Saratoga Springs, New York Times best-selling crime writer, Kate White, asked me if I would mind answering some questions she had about crime reporting as it tied to a new book she was developing.
And so started a nearly year-long occasional back and forth about reporter behaviors, actions, steps in various situations and, in particular, about how I might research old Post-Star stories, where I might look for information on a missing person or how the sheriff might let a reporter know about a crime.
It ends up that White’s well known main character Bailey Weggins connects with fictitious Post-Star reporter, Alice, in her newly released, “such a perfect wife,” when she comes north from New York City to report on the details of the case of a missing Lake George woman.
On Wednesday night, White, who grew up in the area, came to the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, to talk about her new book and share thoughts on writing and re-inventing oneself.
White, who now lives in Manhattan, was the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 15 years before following her desire and re-inventing her path as a writer of crime novels and psychological thrillers.
The thing is, she said, if you want to re-invent yourself, you have to travel light and not hold on to old titles and beliefs. And you have to be willing to “go into the woods.”
This is how White explained it:
“Working on one of my first mysteries, I was doing a scene early on a Saturday morning before my kids got up about how the main character is trying to figure out how the murderer got through these woods to the building where he killed his victim,” she said. “I was trying to get the scene right and the woods and also how the character felt when somebody was following her.”
White said when she re-read the scene and it really wasn’t coming to life and so she asked her daughter to help her with the scene.
“We went out to these woods behind our house and I said ‘I’m going to start walking and then about a minute later I want you to start following me, but try not to let me see you,’” she said. “So I start off. Being out in the woods it became clear to me: The sunlight was dappled, the smell was kind of mossy and mushroomy and all of a sudden I hear a sound and I turn around, nobody there. I start walking again. I hear a twig snap. Then another twig snap. And I suddenly get a little nervous. I have to remind myself the person following me is nine years old and wears a little mermaid backpack to school. But that helped me go back and write that scene.”
It’s the same way with re-invention, she said.
“On a broader level, it was a great reminder that so often even with writing, the answers aren’t in your head,” she said. “You’ve got to get off your butt and go into the woods for the answer.”