Strange but True: Tales from Authors with Saralyn Richard

Welcome to a new author series . . . Strange but True: Tales from Authors . . . where we'll learn the weirdest or possibly the most ambitious thing authors have done or learned for their writing. As an author I know that we often come across incredibly odd facts in our research, and sometimes, we endeavor to learn things firsthand, so we can describe it better in our stories. Has an author gained a new skill, traveled somewhere dangerous/exotic, tried a crazy sport? Inquiring minds want to know. 

I am pleased to welcome the first author in this new series, Saralyn Richard! Here's her strange but true story . . . 

One of the most important, ambitious, and interesting parts of writing fiction is research, and I also find it fun. When I started writing mysteries, I had to overcome a chronic hatred of violence and fear of the sight of blood. Seriously, I cringe at the depiction of blood, even on the cover of a work of fiction. I’m sometimes asked by readers how a nice, well-mannered lady like me can write about murder, and I’ve done soul-searching about that. My answer comes from a quote by P.D. James (who likely was asked the same question many times): “The mystery novel is not about murder. It is about the restoration of order.”

So, the first weird, ambitious thing I had to do was accept that writing mysteries meant dealing with a certain amount of murder and blood. I still try to keep both as sanitized as possible, so readers like me won’t be creeped out.

To be more specific, I’ll tell you about the second most ambitious thing I’ve done. When I was writing the first Detective Parrott mystery, MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, I needed a “weapon.” Because of the forementioned aversion to blood and violence, I searched for a poison. I had a lot of parameters to meet in terms of fitting into the setting and characters of the book. I read A Writer’s Guide to Poisons from cover to cover and could not find a single one that met my needs. I embarked on a mission to find a poison. This led me to doctors’ offices, hospitals, and morgues. I asked everyone I thought might have more than a passing knowledge of the subject, and, not learning anything promising, I was ready to scrap the situation in the book. At that point I got a phone call from a pathologist who had read about a newly discovered, highly potent, naturally-occurring poison, found in the ocean and in fish tanks—palytoxin. From then on I had my weapon, and I had a slew of medical experts to call on whenever I needed them for future mysteries.

That was my second most ambitious project. My first most ambitious occurred in the writing of the new release, MURDER OUTSIDE THE BOX, the fourth Detective Parrott mystery. I can’t tell you about that one, because it would be a spoiler, but I can tell you it was a doozy! 


Saralyn says that she was born with a pen in her hand and ink in her veins. A former educator, she loves connecting with readers. Her humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and children's book pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. She teaches creative writing and literature and participates actively in International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America.  Her Detective Parrott mystery series is growing. MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENTA PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER, and CRYSTAL BLUE MURDER are available in ebook and print formats wherever books are sold. The fourth book in the series, MURDER OUTSIDE THE BOX, is a new release as of January 2024. All of her books have been multiple award-winners, and, most importantly, have earned stellar reviews from readers. She loves beaches, reading, sheepdogs, the arts, libraries, parties, nature, cooking, and connecting with readers. You can connect with Saralyn on her website at:, on her Amazon page or on Facebook.




I'm still reading Murder Outside the Box, so I'll know the secret soon!

Thanks, Valerie, for featuring me in the first post of Strange but True Tales from Authors. I had a lot of fun thinking about those quirky to bizarre bits that are part of the author's journey. And thanks to all who read the post. I'm eager to hear what you think....

Thank you, Saralyn!! I appreciate you taking the time to write this. Great 'behind the scenes' info from your author journey!!

You and me both! I'm such a wimp that I keep my crimes and violence in the background. Still need to face my fears to read Blood Sisters but loving your One Percent so far!

Hope you love them all, even if the blood is minimal.

I loved your poison in MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, and I love the premise of this new series, Valerie! xoxo

Thanks, Peg. That poison took a long, long while to find. Glad you liked it!

Was that Howdunnit: Book of Poisons that you read? I am bummed that you didn't find anything. Next time you need a poison, let me know.

It was your book, Anne. :)

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