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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

'Write What You Like to Read'

“Sometimes the characters develop almost without your knowing it. You find them doing things you hadn't planned on, and then I have to go back to page 42 and fix things. I'm not recommending it as a way to write . . . but it works for me.” – Barbara Mertz

An American author who wrote under her own name as well as the pseudonyms Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, Mertz was both a noted academic and a leading writer.  Born on this day in 1927, she earned multiple degrees in ancient history and Egyptology, including a Ph.D. in the latter field.

One of her mystery series (written as Peters) focused on a professor who held a degree in Egyptology.   Mertz wrote 71 books, including many mystery and suspense series'.  And while she was best known for those, two of her nonfiction books on ancient Egypt also are still in print. 

More than a dozen of her books were nominated for or won best novel or best mystery awards, led by Trojan Gold; Naked Once More; The Last Camel Died at Noon; The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog; and Night Train to Memphis.

She was named Anthony Awards Grandmaster for mystery writing in 1986 and Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster in 1998.   She wrote bestsellers right up until her death in 2013.

When asked why she liked writing mysteries, suspense and thrillers instead of more of her "scholarly" works, she replied that it was what she most enjoyed.  “There are lots of things to write about, but I think it would be difficult to write books I don't like to read.”



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