by | Feb 5, 2017 | Extraordinary Guest Bloggers | 4 comments

….Submitted by Karna Small Bodman

We are delighted to welcome New York Times Bestselling Author Lisa Black as our guest blogger.  

Lisa Black

Lisa has spent over 20 years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland, Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police department.  Her books have been translated into six languages and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series. In keeping with our current theme of the effects of weather on our writing, Lisa tells us how her own experiences have played out in her exciting thrillers:

Cleveland weather is the reason I now live in Florida. Not that I had a problem with it–I’m not affected by SAD and I find rain soothing–but my husband fussed to the point that he insisted we move 1400 miles south, so that now he can fuss about the heat and the wind and the summer monsoons.


The fun thing about Cleveland is that it has four distinct seasons (instead of two, rainy and dry, as in boring old Florida) and each has its extremes to serve as a moody and violent backdrop to my stories. The weather becomes a character in itself, opposing and confounding my heroine every chance it gets.

Let’s get winter out of the way. Winter is brutal, there’s no other term for it. One morning I left to go to work when it was twenty below zero. Not wind chill, actual temperature (and parked in the driveway my little Ford Escort, bless her heart, started right up). That’s why I had my victim freeze to

death in Evidence of Murderin the blanketed, eerie silence of a copse of trees by the lake. Then there’s the snow–tons and tons of it, barreling down from the sky, turning to slush when the temperature warms and to ice harder than diamonds when it drops. We have Lake Erie to the north of the city and that causes ‘lake effect’ to influence the heavens, dumping feet on one side of town and only inches on the other.  No one really knows what ‘lake effect’ is, but in Cleveland we blame everything that happens on it.

But then there’s spring. April showers continue through May, June, July…actually it never stops raining during the summer, one reason that farms in Ohio can do so well in a good year. 

Then comes summer. It’s the northern border of America, right, so it can’t get that hot? Wrong. It can be as sweltering as Florida can–the only difference is it doesn’t usually last for six months. Tempers flare and air conditioners go on the fritz. But the charm of Cleveland weather lies in its unpredictability. The first June in our second house we threw a pool party for my husband’s birthday. It was 45 degrees. The pool created its own fog as its steam rose. The last June in our second house,

my husband was already in Florida and being the cheapskate I am, I refused to turn on the central air. It was 11 pm in an upstairs room with the windows open and a fan blowing and I had just showered, and yet I still remember the sweat rolling off me in sheets. I used this face of summer in Takeover, having started with a vision of my character crossing the sun-baked asphalt street toward the bank robbers, exchanging herself for her wounded detective fiancé.

Fall is everyone’s favorite, and certainly mine. The air gets crisp, the leaves burst into a cacophony of colors, the sky becomes a deep cobalt. I can’t say anything bad about fall, and it’s not just because my birthday is in September. But September, in particular, has its dark side too. Over my years at the coroner’s office I noticed a jump in homicides during the month. One September there were only six days on which we did not have a homicide victim come in, and

on two days we had two. The August heat and the Christmas holidays might make people a little crazy, but I believe September does too. From the time we are small we start back to school at this time, the carefree days of vacation over. We’re stuffed back into a uniform and a schedule. The days grow shorter and the trees start to shed. Our bodies know that something is supposed to change come September, and when it doesn’t, we get antsy. For some, antsy gets out of control and shades into violence.

And then I write about it.
Lisa’s new thriller, Unpunished, has just been released.  Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your ideas and writing style with all of here on Rogue Women Writers.  For our friends and readers, leave a comment about stories you recall where the weather really was  an important “character!”
….Karna Small Bodman 

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  1. S. Lee Manning

    I love your summary of Cleveland seasons. I live in Vermont most of the year, and winter can stretch from November to April, although the brunt of it is in January and February, when it reach the -30 range. So I join you in Florida for those two months. Thanks for visiting Rogue Women Writers and I look forward to reading Unpunished.

  2. Gayle Lynds

    What a terrific post, Lisa! It's fascinating how weather affects many of us so differently. I moved from Santa Barbara after several decades to … omg … Maine! And I love it here. Strange! Thanks for your wonderful anecdotes about how you used weather in your novels. Great examples!

  3. Anonymous

    Lisa – you asked about stories where the weather was an important character. That got me to thinking about certain movies (some based on books, of course.) You live in Florida so maybe you heard about or saw the re-run of the great old movie with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, KEY LARGO, where they and others are all forced together as a hurricane bears down on the scene. And when it comes to hurricanes, how about George Clooney in THE PERFECT STORM? Finally, I just thought about the story of Ernest Shackleton and how his ship with its crew got trapped in an ice pack in the Antarctic and what he did to save them. That's when the weather truly WAS a character.

  4. Lisa Black

    Thanks for hosting me! Too fun!