If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sacsser Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Overlooking The Obvious


Many mystery writers include pets in their stories. It adds a cozy element that I like. An author can show their main character’s softer, human side through interactions with a pet. How people treat their pets says a lot about them. Although adding pets occurs frequently in cozies to show the positive slant on human-animal relations, using pets to show cruelty isn’t an often-used device—no, it sure isn’t cozy—and yet I’m amazed that in the real world and in fiction, pet cruelty is overlooked (with the exception of author Sandra Parshall).

Studies have shown that abusive pet owners are more likely to abuse humans. Some studies have shown that those who abuse animals are five times more likely to turn their violence on humans, and the term “abuse” includes murder. Here are a few chilling items listed on PETA's website, which also lists the primary sources for this data. 

·      Albert DeSalvo (the “Boston Strangler”), who killed 13 women, trapped dogs and cats and shot arrows at them through boxes in his youth.
·      Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer impaled frogs, cats, and dogs’ heads on sticks.
·      Dennis Rader (the BTK killer), who terrorized people in Kansas, wrote in a chronological account of his childhood that he hanged a dog and a cat.
·      During the trial of convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, a psychology professor testified that the teenager, who killed 10 people with a rifle, had “pelted—and probably killed—numerous cats with marbles from a slingshot when he was about 14.
·      High-school killers such as Kip Kinkel in Springfield, Oregon, and Luke Woodham, in Pearl, Mississippi, tortured animals before starting their shooting sprees.
·      Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who shot and killed 12 classmates before turning their guns on themselves, spoke to their classmates about mutilating animals.

“There is a common theme to all of the shootings of recent years,” says Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, director of the Child Study Center at New York University. “You have a child who has symptoms of aggression toward his peers, an interest in fire, cruelty to animals, social isolation, and many warning signs that the school has ignored.”

We seem to have a predictive tool, one that correlates animal cruelty to human violence, and we aren’t using it. In April 2012, The Animal Welfare Institute released a study showing that although the FBI is aware of the connection between animal cruelty and human violence and has been since the 1970s, documentation and reporting of animal cruelty crimes is lacking. The FBI is working to include animal cruelty reporting as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, but Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota still do not have felony statutes for animal cruelty as part of their criminal code.

Here are other findings from this report (ca-12fbireportfinal040312_0.pdf):
·      67% of offenders are males
·      83% are white
·      46% of animal cruelty crimes are committed in the home
·      Almost 27% of cases involve subjects between the ages of 25-34

Text Box: I couldn’t bring myself to show a picture of a tortured pet. This blank picture represents something missing in a human who abuses.For many, abuses to humans weigh far greater than cruelty to animals. After all, we kill animals everyday to put food on the table. While that maybe true, to overlook a correlation that has been accepted by the FBI for the past 40 years seems shortsighted. After the shooting sprees in the last few months killing many people, we cannot overlook this correlation as a predictive tool, one that could be more valuable than psychiatric analysis.

Have you included animal cruelty as an element in your killer’s profile? As writers, we need to emphasize this correlation in our writing to educate the public. It’s not quirky, it’s not creative, and it’s sure not fun or cozy—it’s reality.

21 comments:

LD Masterson said...

I agree completely that animal abuse can be an important indicator of future escalated violence. It's sad our law enforcement organizations haven't found an effected way to track and use that sort of information.

I've never included animal abuse in a story for the same reason I don't include child abuse. I just can't bring myself to describe it.

Kaye George said...

Definitely something to think about including. I would hate to go as far as killing or mutilating an animal in my fiction, but I could maybe include kicking--or ignoring--the dog or something, just to show character. As I type this, the neighbor's dog has been barking for a long time and I assume it's out of water and/or food again. Sad. It's a very nice, quiet dog most of the time.

E. B. Davis said...

I know that it is hard and might not be the story you want to write, but I think it is a factor that can be included in a manuscript without overpowering a story and the tone. My manuscript, TOASTING FEAR, has a main character who was the victim of child abuse, which effects her, but isn't the focus of the story.

Evidently, felony statistics are reported to the FBI by the states, but it appears that most animal abuses aren't considered felonies and go unreported. Unfortunately, all abuse, human or animal, occurs in the home where abuse can occur for years without notice. I hope this is changing, and that the knowledge that one abuse leading to another will catch the psychos before more violence occurs.

E. B. Davis said...

In a follow up chapter to the murder, the authorities could find an abused animal and help it. Showing it in this way won't require writers to write the abuse and will get people to correlate the two abuses in their minds.

Kaye George said...

Good points, E. B.!

Sandra Parshall said...

I discovered when I published Under the Dog Star just how many readers flatly refuse to read a book that will leave images of abused animals in their minds. I don't have a detailed description of a dog fight in the book (I wouldn't be able to write it). I do show the results of the abuse, with my protagonist, veterinarian Rachel Goddard, and others helping them. But for many readers, nothing I might say would induce them to give the book a chance.

Thanks for posting this blog. It's an important subject, one we shouldn't allow people to forget.

Warren Bull said...

Cruelty to animals is one of the factors therapists use to assess quickly how severely a client is. Fire setting, bed-wetting and isolation are other factors.

Earl Staggs said...

I've noticed on Criminal Minds, the TV show about FBI profilers who go after serial killers, they often mention torturing of animals in the profiles of their suspects.

E. B. Davis said...

I doubt that any of us would like to write a scene in which an animal is being abused. I couldn't post such a picture. But we are encouraged to profile our characters when we write, listing their characteristics. That is one characteristic that I think writers should consider including since it unfortunately and evidently will add authenticity.

E. B. Davis said...

Warren--I'm so glad to hear you say that it is a known and that psychologists look for it. Makes me happy to catch these scumballs.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for stopping by Sandra. The TV show seems to have it right, Earl. Now if more writers would make use of the correlation. Like I said, only Sandra seems to make the point in her novels.

S.W. Hubbard said...

My first novel, TAKE THE BAIT, featured a villian who tourtured animals. I used that device precisely because I knew that the psychological profiles of killers often contain evidence of animal abuse. I did NOT, however, show the animals, a cat and an emu, actually being abused--my detective just discovered the gory evidence afterwards. And readers never saw the animals alive, so they were not "characters" in the novel. Like Sandra, I would have a hard time writing a description of something awful happening to an animal in real time. My most recent novel, ANOTHER MAN's TREASURE, has a dog who's based on my own dog. When the fictional dog gets lost, I got quite choked up writing about it!

E. B. Davis said...

S. W., I'm glad you are aware of the correlation and write about it. There is no requirement to write horrible scenes that no one wants to read.

Gloria Alden said...

I don't write about animal or child abuse because it would be hard for me to do. I puddle up over stories where animals get lost or die. I could and have read books, like Sandy Parshall's, as long as there isn't a graphic scene taking place where the animal is abused or too much description of the injuries. I've long known a high percentage of animal abusers do go on to abuse or even kill people. I couldn't include a character who was an animal or child abuser, because then the reader would know who my killer was.

E. B. Davis said...

Revealing so, Gloria, after the fact would be enough to utilize the correlation without have to write it or give too much information to the reader spoiling the suspense.

Laura Cooper said...

Informative post. I have included this element in a WIP. It is written in as part of a suspect's criminal history.

E. B. Davis said...

Good for you, Laura. Bravo!

Sandra Parshall said...

At one time, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, abduction and sexual abuse of young children was a common topic in suspense novels. I couldn't count the number I ran across and couldn't finish. These were books by respected authors, but they read like porn and they turned my stomach. Another type of torture porn in crime fiction involves women or teenage girls. When a book begins with a description of a man stringing a girl up like an animal so he can have his fun with her, I set it aside quickly before I barf. (Real book, written by someone whose name you would probably recognize.) There's still far too much of that around. But the very real problem of animal abuse is seldom touched on, even though it's an enormously important indicator of a person's tendency toward violence against other people. It can be included without resorting to exploitation.

E. B. Davis said...

I had to give up reading J. A. Konrath because of the horrible aftermath of torture. Usually, he doesn't write the actual torture scene, but what the forensic team finds...it was enough to literally keep me awake nights.

There may be readers who want that, but it's not me. Just that gentle reminder that the suspect could abuse animals, an after the fact witness to the suspect's abuses, etc., that sort of non-visceral type of evidence.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

You are right that we have certain taboos that we don’t choose to talk about. I have not used cruelty to animals in any of my stories.

I wouldn’t put it on the page, but I might think about including it as history in a suspect’s file.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Another good way to include the correlation. Thanks, Jim.