Cassidy Salem says she’s always been an avid reader and is especially fond of mysteries. She loves to read so much that she spotlights a wide range of mysteries—from cozy to hard-boiled as well as sweet romance—on her blog. She also loves hearing from readers and feels it helps reinforce her motivation to write.
Where did that book come from?
Killer Reputation is the third book in her Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth series, so Cassidy said she had a starting cast of sorts in the main character, her friends, and colleagues at the think tank.
“Looking back, I am not sure how I came up with the idea for this book. I am a pantser not a plotter, so I kind of started from a point in the main character’s life and went from there, asking myself questions along the way. First of all, who could I kill off this time and how/why would Adina be involved? After all, she’s not a detective or police officer. That settled (for the time being, anyway), I ask myself who might have a motive to kill the victim and develop the idea from there. I came up with several suspects and didn’t actually identify the culprit myself until the book was more than half written.”
Cassidy also said that in writing each of the books in the series, her goal has never been to make an argument or to promote a specific viewpoint — despite having set the series in our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. “As the storyline takes form in my head and in my writing, politics and current events have had a way of rearing their heads, usually as plot factors. After all, plots and characters sometimes have a mind of their own and take us where they want to go. This has happened to some extent in all three books in the series, which touch on issues such as animal welfare, environmental protection, immigration, cybercrime and healthcare. In all cases, I have done my best to avoid pushing any agenda, instead letting Adina’s colleagues present opposing views, leaving her and the reader to draw their own conclusions.”
After graduating from college, she spent a couple of years living and working as an administrative assistant in Washington D.C. “When I decided to try my hand at writing, I wanted to create a mystery series centered around a character that I could identify with, in a setting and job that would hopefully ring true. That said, no two think tanks are alike – they each have different objectives, political agendas, and organizational cultures. And, of course, the DIPPeR and the events depicted are strictly fictional.”
Red flag research
“Like many mystery writers, my browsing history would likely set off red flags among law enforcement agencies. Somewhere between deciding who to kill off and identifying the culprit, I have to decide on the method. For each idea that pops into my head, I need to fact check the feasibility. Would my killer be capable of killing the victim with the weapon I have in mind? How likely would the killer be to have access to said weapon? Crazy or enjoyable, maybe not. But definitely fascinating research.”