It’s All Novel Material….

By Pat Remick

I do believe this to be true – that just about everything that happens in my life is potential novel, or short story, material. Do you feel the same about your life?

My conviction that “It’s All Novel Material” is reflected in the title I chose for my personal blog, but it’s also how I view my days — and nights.

And this may help explain why I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of Saturday’s Open House at the City of Portsmouth (NH) Wastewater Treatment Plant. You never know when a wastewater treatment plant might come in handy as a good scene for murder, right?

The final step in the wastewater treatment process

And let me just say that from what I learned (and saw and smelled) about lagoons, the large machinery necessary to compress sludge, and the chemicals required to treat wastewater before it is pumped as effluent into the fast-moving Piscataqua River en route to the Atlantic Ocean, my time was not wasted.

On Sunday, I toured a nuclear submarine. The experience was fascinating, and, not surprisingly, I discovered elements that might add interesting dimensions to a yet-to-be-written story.

When my workdays at the City of Portsmouth end, I often record tidbits from conversations, tasks or political issues that might become future fiction fodder. And then there are the moments when someone is being difficult and I find myself contemplating how best to insert them into a work in progress – and then possibly kill them off. I also constantly study my surroundings, both at work and outside of it, for interesting locales to describe in my writing.

Fortunately, my co-workers at the municipal, school, police and fire departments have become accustomed to my “it’s all novel material” attitude, which explains why one of our IT experts didn’t blink last week when I told him I needed a way to disguise the source of email traffic that would figure in a murder investigation. (His response involved a stolen laptop, public Wi-Fi and the ocean, but that’s all I’m going to say right now.) And the reason I went rushing into his office to ask? Because the first line of my next story has been running on a continuous loop through my brain. Does this ever happen to you?

I must admit that it does occur to me that most people might not consider any of this normal behavior, but I think you probably understand this and might even engage in similar activities, right? That’s another wonderful thing about being a member of Sisters in Crime — it’s filled with people who get this.

And you do, don’t you? Tell us about it. Do you believe “It’s All Novel Material” and how does this influence your writing?

Pat Remick is a former president of Sisters in Crime New England, an award-winning short story author and veteran journalist, and has co-authored two non-fiction books. She won the 2007 Al Blanchard Crime Fiction Award and her stories have appeared  in previous LBB anthologies. A member of SINC and Mystery Writers of America, Pat is working on a novel. Her web site is

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1 Response to It’s All Novel Material….

  1. edithmaxwell says:

    Nice post, Pat. Oh, yes, it’s all material. I drive home and see the giant excavators sitting idle until tomorrow’s work on my neighborhood’s water supply. That black garbage bag by the side of the road in the dim dawn could be a body. The seminar on high-finance investors? Hmmm. My last published short story drew on my feelings at being laid off from my job of 14 years. It’s truly all material.

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