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

Our July author interviews: Ellen Byerrum (7/5), Day of the Dark anthology authors (7/12 and 7/19), and Nancy Cole Silverman (7/26).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in July: 7/1--Fran Stewart, and 7/8--Nancy Cole Silverman. WWK Saturday bloggers write on 7/15--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/22--Kait Carson, and 7/29--E. B. Davis.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.”

In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

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. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

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 October, 18, 2017. Look for the interview by E. B. Davis here on that date!

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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Thursday, April 25, 2013

WRITING ABOUT DEATH







Recently I totaled up the many ways I’ve murdered victims in the three books and thirteen finished short stories I’ve written. Bashing on the head was the most common method with seven victims. Two of those were first bashed and then succumbed to eventual death through some other method like drowning or being run over by a sheepsfoot roller. Next was poisoning. I’ve poisoned five victims. Drowning was third.  Short stories for the Guppy anthologies needed something to do with water or fish nets. I wrote three for them, but one was too long so I couldn’t use it, but all three involved drowning. There were two involving strangulation. One murder happened with a garden fork and only one with a gun. Several more murders were caused deliberately, but the murderer couldn’t be prosecuted because one was a wife purposely feeding her obese diabetic husband a diet of rich and sweet fatty foods and another wife withheld important information from her husband.





So what kind of person plots and writes murder? Are we callous and unfeeling people for which death is no big deal? Or is writing about murders some subliminal wish to experience murdering someone through writing about it since we lack the courage to actually do such a deed? I don’t believe that’s true – at least not for me, and I doubt it is for other mystery writers either.



I for one have leaky tear ducts. I cry over sad movies or books. Except for slugs and Japanese beetles which I feed to my chickens, or mosquitoes and flies which I swat with no compunction, I can’t kill things. When Moggie, my cat, brings a mouse up from the basement, I leap from my chair to find a jar with a lid to rescue the mouse before she harms it and then I release it outside – where it most likely finds its way back in. I do the same if I see Barney, my barn cat with a chipmunk or a bird. I chase her around the yard until she drops her prey. The PBS News Hour used to show pictures and information of soldiers who had died in Iraq or Afghanistan several times a week at the end of their show. I sat there reading the information with eyes so wet I had a hard time reading. And so it was for me when my daughter called and told me what had happened at the Boston Marathon. She wanted to know if her Uncle Phillip – my youngest brother was there since he went every year. He wasn’t because he’d broken a bone in his foot the month before, but if not for the broken bone, he would have been running. I, who rarely watch TV, turned the set on and watched for over an hour. It wasn’t morbid interest, it was grief over what one or more bombers could callously do with no regard for innocent life.

Is it contradictory that I can write about death but am also saddened by it? Maybe, but I don’t write graphic death scenes and never kill off any characters that are fully developed and become real to me. It’s been said mystery writers want to make sense of a world in which much doesn’t make sense, exploring for example how there can be so much cruelty in the world. Also, I’m haunted by the face of the younger bomber. It’s a gentle face. Those who know him, family, teachers and friends, express shock and disbelief. They describe him as someone who was friendly, helpful, a good student, good at sports, and someone well-liked with many friends. How could he change so radically?  Did his older brother have some kind of control over him?
He certainly does not fit the same profile of other mass murderers we’ve read about.

Some would say would say there is more cruelty in the world today, but from reading about past eras, I don’t believe that. There’s much that has changed for the better. I couldn’t find the bombers and bring them to justice, and I can’t become a vigilante and bring about justice closer to home, either, but I can bring murderers on the page to justice; a microcosm of a real world, true, but at least in my written world justice rules in the end, and isn’t that what we all wish for?

Why do you write or read murder mysteries?


17 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Death by bullet has been my most popular methodology, although I have used various toxins and diseases when some baddy is going for larger groups of people – although often those are spoiled by the hero.

I don’t write or read mysteries for the crime, but for the human interactions: those that lead to the crime or those resulting from the crime.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, that's why I write mysteries, too. I'm curious about why people turn to crime. Also, when I read mysteries it's because I like to try to solve the mystery before the writer exposes the murderer.

I wonder if there's a gender aspect on how murder is committed, too, both in the writer of mysteries and the murderer. I'm thinking guns would more often be used by a man, but that may be changing.

Rhonda Lane said...

I'm another one who reads for the "why?" Mysteries also immerse us in different worlds.

Gloria Alden said...

I agree, Rhonda. My actual life is rather boring since I've lived in the same place my whole life. Mysteries spice up my life and take me to new places.

Warren Bull said...

Murder, betrayal, gore innocents threatened. That could be mystery or it could be Shakespeare. I wrote about one murder by aerosol spray. The Bard missed that one. I like the human interactions and the puzzles.

Shari Randall said...

Since I am a newbie I've only committed one murder (on paper, of course) by poison in the leftovers. Not giving anything away, since the method is not the point in that story, it's the capture. That's what I like in a mystery, solving the puzzle and peeling away the masks that characters wear to hide their dark hearts.
PS Aerosol? Warren, that's creative!

Gloria Alden said...

Aerosol spray!!!! That's a new one, but you so add unusual twists to your work, Warren. Shakespeare did write some gruesome deaths, didn't he.

Gloria Alden said...

You're not tough enough yet, Shari. :-) Poison in he leftovers is a good one. Sometimes that comes naturally, of course, if it's left long enough in the fridge so that it gathers green mold. I like solving the puzzle and trying to figure out which character has the best motive to commit a murder. Of course, we usually don't find that out until the end.

Kara Cerise said...

I also read for the "why.” However, shortly after the Boston bombings, I had an "aha" moment after watching a reporter interview a detective. He asked why someone would commit this type of act. The detective replied something like, "We don't care why. We want to know who because when we know who, we'll find out why." I made a mental note that to a detective “why” isn’t the most important question when solving a crime.

Gloria Alden said...

That whole Boston bombing has preyed on my mind so much, Kara, and much of that is because of the younger brother and how well-liked he was. I do want to know what changed him, and yes, I think it was the older brother. I feel the younger brother is one of the tragedies of that day. I guess it's the first time I've looked that much at the human side of a killer. I think a little of it might have to do because of his picture. His curly brown hair and brown eyes remind me of my oldest son, who died of cancer. I imagine his parents are now wishing both sons had died rather than do the things they did.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, I've killed characters by bashing in their heads with a rock, by shooting them, by stabbing them with long, sharp wool combs, by battering them with a weighted golf club, by cutting their throats with a knife, and in one case, by telephoning a complaint to the city about a broken step and unlicensed car.

I don't write or read mysteries for the puzzle but because of the repercussions of the crime and the hidden undercurrents between people that led up to it. Characters and relationships and motivations are what matter to me.

Gloria Alden said...

Wow, Linda! You've got a lot of different ways of killing people. :-)
I not only like to solve the puzzle, but I also find it interesting to discover the motivations leading up to it. It's one of the reasons I like Elizabeth George so much along with other writers who create complex characters.

Carla Damron said...

your comments about the Boston bomber rang true. We may never know why he did it. At least when we write mysteries, we KNOW the why.

Gloria Alden said...

So true,Carla, although since I wrote this more and more is coming out.

KM said...

I think one of the reasons I like writing crime novels is because it puts me in control, rather than seeing it just happen.

When I worked in a state prison, I usually had a few murders on my work crew, and some of them worked for me for a few years. You get to know people you work with that much, and usually like them. How does it feel to know you've killed a person and there's no way to take it back? Strangulation was the most common method I encountered.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Gloria,
First let me commend you for being such a versatile murderer on "paper." I, too, have come up with various ways to kill off my victims, from drugging and throwing one off a cliff to running a few off the road. I think we compartmentalize and separate the murders in our books from those in real life. I read and write mysteries because I love the puzzle of it all: who is the murderer? Why did he do it? Also, when a mystery ends, order is once again established, and order is something we sorely need in our lives. Real-life murder is very disturbing. It reminds us it can happen to us.

Gloria Alden said...

Marilyn, I haven't tried those three ways you've mentioned yet. Of course, in N.E. Ohio where I live and my murders take place, there are no real cliffs of any size. :-) I find real-life murders disturbing, too, although I don't lie awake worrying about it.