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Author Spotlight

How to write a mystery with author Ginny Myers Sain!

Ginny Myers Sain is a master storyteller of supernatural thrillers that have us turning pages ALL night…and she’s here to share her secrets!

In her latest book, One Last Breath, a decades long mystery haunts a small Florida town. This chilling supernatural thriller is filled with murder, romance, with a paranormal twist that will leave your jaw DROPPED.

Preorder your copy here and scroll down to read how Ginny Myers Sain works her magic!

Hi! I’m Ginny Myers Sain, author of DARK AND SHALLOW LIES, SECRETS SO DEEP, and ONE LAST BREATH. Penguin Teen asked me to share the key ingredients to writing a dark and twisty murder mystery, and I’m so excited to talk about my process with you!

First, I always start with an interesting question! I call these questions my “idea seeds.” For DARK AND SHALLOW LIES, my original question was, “How do you keep a secret in a town full of psychics?” For SECRETS SO DEEP it was, “How can you trust the slipperiness of your own memory?” And for ONE LAST BREATH, my original question was a two-parter, “What happens when you meet someone and experience that instant, burning connection? And how many times would you be willing to die for that person?”

I also try to incorporate a bit of real life or actual history into my stories. I grew up in Oklahoma, not far from the location of the infamous Girl Scout Murders. As a kid, I was both terrified and fascinated by what happened at Camp Scott in the 1970s. Those murders loomed large over my childhood, and my friends and I spent a lot of time whispering about and speculating about what happened to those girls. Because of that, when I started writing ONE LAST BREATH, I knew I wanted to explore the idea of what it means to grow up in the shadow of a horrible tragedy, particularly a gruesome, unsolved murder. Then, as a high school student who would be starting college soon, I had also been deeply affected by the murders Danny Rolling committed in Gainesville, Florida in the early 90s. Eventually the Girl Scout murders at Camp Scott and Rolling’s crimes melded in my my mind to become the story of the murders at Hidden Glen and the crimes of the Glades Reaper.

For me, another big part of creating a great mystery is coming up with a really special setting. I had fallen in love with the deep, gorgeous, and mysterious freshwater springs of central Florida years earlier, and once I started writing, I always knew I would set a story in that rich environment. ONE LAST BREATH became that story. The oppressive heat and isolation of the thick, tangled scrub. The wild element of the alligators and venomous snakes. The beautiful, but possibly deadly, allure of those seemingly-bottomless cerulean pools. It was just an irresistible setting for a thriller, especially when you add in the element of freediving, which creates an extra layer of danger.

The last really important ingredient for me is the character relationships I create. It’s the friendship between Grey and Elora, and the feelings between Grey and Hart, and then Grey and Zale that really drive DARK AND SHALLOW LIES. In SECRETS SO DEEP, it’s the depth of the connection between Avril and Cole and Avril’s beautiful friendship with Lex that really tug at readers. And in ONE LAST BREATH, the relationships between Tru and East and Tru and Rio are so intense and so important. If readers don’t care about your characters, they don’t care whether they live or die or are in danger! So fully drawn characters with deep, intense relationships is one of the often-overlooked keys to writing a good mystery!

Thanks for letting me share some of my mystery writing tips with you! Don’t forget that ONE LAST BREATH is out on March 5th! I can’t wait for you to meet Tru, Rio, East, and the other residents of Mount Orange, Florida. It’s a town haunted by a terrifying tragedy, and everyone who lives there knows full well that the past is always present.


Penguin Teen