Let’s talk about murder for a second.
It’s the reason we’re all pretty much here, right, reading a blog called “Writers Who Kill”?
Because to write a mystery, you’ve got to bloody somebody’s fictional hands.
It’s just the way it goes. From Agatha to Stieg and every writer with a story in between, we’re all fictional murderers if we’re writing mystery. That’s just the way things are.
And therein lies a tiny little problem when I (and probably you) tell people what I write.
The conversation usually goes a little something like this.
“You’re a writer?”
“What do you write?”
“Outside of newspaper stuff? Mysteries.”
“Like with murder?”
“Really? You seem so nice…”
The thing with writing mysteries is that folks think you secretly want to kill people.
Which isn’t true in the slightest.
Mystery writing isn’t about the murder.
It’s about finding the truth in the puzzle.
It’s about exposing the guilty, not glorifying what they’ve done.
Thus, when I discuss my manuscripts or potential manuscripts with people, I’m very lucky that my friends/critique partners/beta readers understand this very fine point. Because to talk about mystery ideas you first have to talk about murder.
Which, out of context, makes me (and you) sound completely insane.
In fact, I’ve had many a dinner or lunch meeting or writing date with writer friends where the discussion often veers into ideas on how to off someone in a book. What’s reasonable. What’s far-fetched but cool. What really fits into the storyline. Etc.
I just visited two of my writer friends in North Carolina, and fresh off the plane, my friend Renee shuttled me to a giant Whole Foods for lunch. As we chowed down on garlic-y kale in the store’s café, we discussed, probably a little too loudly, how I’d like to do a sort of fictionalized update of In Cold Blood.
Thus, there we sat, two bright-eyed chickadees chatting about bodies and blood spray in a farm house, a town on lockdown and the horror that comes from what seems like a completely random crime.
A couple of other folks were in the café, and I’m sure anyone listening in was mentally deciding whether he or she would get enough cell reception in a café bathroom to call the cops on us or if it would be best to just get up and walk out before the conversation got worse.
At least we gave those folks a really interesting Thursday afternoon.
Why do you gravitate toward writing mystery?
P.S.: The pic at the top is of a little guy my hubby bought me after I’d written my first in-the-drawer mystery. My special pencil holder has been terrifying coworkers and getting laughs ever since. And he’s the perfect metaphor, no?