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

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why Do People Murder

Doing research for my new book.
I’m working on my fifth book now, Murder in the Corn Maze. Although I’ve created numerous murderers, including those in my short stories, I put more into developing the character for my book murderers. For those murderers I want to know more about what brings him/her to feeling they need to murder the victim.

Even though I’ve read thousands of mysteries over the year and read and hear about killing daily through the news, I decided to see what experts have to say about this.

According to Dr. K. Sohail, author, humanist, speaker and therapist, there are seven reasons why
people kill; personal revenge, serial killers, social violence of gangs, mental illness, political/national violence, violence of religious fundamentalists and international violence.
My son willingly posing as a body for the cover of book one.
In “Everyday Psychology” Paul G. Mattiuzzi, PH.D, says there are the chronically aggressive individuals, who are easily frustrated, resent authority, often express passive-aggressive behavior, believe violence and/or aggression are legitimate responses to various problems, and although they won’t admit it, derive pleasure from their aggressive behavior. Often they are stimulus seekers. Usually, the violence occurs during a fight or disagreement.

Then there are the over-controlled hostility types,who rarely displays or expresses anger. They’re rigid and inflexible and very strict about interpreting rules, morally righteous and upstanding and see themselves as “good people.” They’re often judgmental, and could also be a non-assertive or passive type who allows other to take advantage of them, and their anger builds up like in a pressure cooker before they explode. These are the ones in which people say they never expected it.

There are also the hurt and resentful, who feel people walk on them and they’re never treated fairly. They always find other people to blame when things don’t go well for them. They do not accept criticism well, and in response to reprimands, they develop grudges, that are often deeply held. Often they’re whiners and complainers, and sometime wallow in their victimization and are impotent in being able to handle their anger in other ways before their anger erupts into violence.

There are those who have been traumatized by someone and as a victim seek revenge for what their abuser did to them.

The obsessive personality is immature and narcissistic. They crave attention and affection and like a baby, cannot stand to be deprived of what they desire. They’re the ones who make numerous phone calls and often become stalkers, and sometimes may resort to murder if they can’t have the object of their obsession.

There are the paranoid who believe their lover is cheating on them, or think people are out to get them. Sometimes their paranoia escalates to insanity.

A few are actually insane whose delusional beliefs make them incapable of rational behavior.

And there are the just plain bad and angry; a combination of most of the above except insanity. They’re angry, hostile, jealous, resentful, impotent and disturbed individuals, who are socially isolated, socially inadequate, who feel worthless. They may be seeking attention or seeking revenge.
Most of the above I already knew, and I’m sure you did, too. The above descriptions have been abbreviated because of space limits, but it is something to ponder when you create the murderers in your books or stories.

 I don’t create murderers who are psychopaths or mentally ill nor do they fit anything except sometimes the first one on Dr. K. Sohail’s list. My murderers are the ones in real life, who shock people into saying things like, “He was such a nice guy, always helpful and friendly, etc.” Or “I would never have guessed someone like her would murder (whoever they murdered).” I think there are attributes of some of the personality types in Dr. Mattiuzzi’s list of personality types, however.

Although I personally can’t imagine harming someone or something other than a fly or mosquito, etc., I’m sure if it came to protecting myself or someone I love, I could probably do so. Since I don’t own a gun, nor want to, I don’t know how I would do that. I don’t think a fly swatter would work. I imagine I’d all too easily be disarmed if I tried using a knife.  Poison is something I use often in my books or short stories, but that would take premeditation and that I wouldn’t do.

In developing my murderer, I have to give the person a strong motive for murdering their victim. So far I know who my murderer is in this book as well as the victim, but I’m working on developing my murderer’s bio a little more to make him/her a more realistic and believable murderer for me as well as the reader. As for the victim, it’s rare that I have a victim anyone would grieve for. Maybe a family member to a certain extent, but no one the reader would care that much about. In fact, they’re usually not a very nice person so the reader sees their death coming.

Unlike many books, I don’t have the murder happen anywhere near the beginning, although with the title, the reader knows there will be a murder and where it happens. I want to introduce the murderer, the victim, and all the suspects before the murder. And I want to include a few red herrings before and after the murder.  For me, I want to keep the reader guessing as long as possible who the murderer really is. It’s what I like in the mysteries I read, too.

How do you create your murderers if you write mysteries?

Do you prefer psychopaths, mentally ill murderers or the guy next door kind of murderer?

Can you imagine actually killing someone? Why or why not?


E. B. Davis said...

My murderers are greedy people. Most of the Ten Commandments can be boiled down to greed, taking more than what is yours. The "what" can be many things. Writing how people justify that greed is the interesting and creative part.

The only instance in which I can envision killing anyone is in self or loved ones' defense. It's the necessary evil inherent in life. Our very wiring is geared to fight or flight. When flight isn't possible or would feel like cowardice, we defend ourselves. To do otherwise would be suicide, and that too is a sin. We're in a Catch-22 no matter what we do. I often feel quite sorry for us.

Jim Jackson said...

I suppose by some definition all who kill without involving direct self-defense must be mentally ill. However, ignoring that definitional problem, my killers all have strong motivations for their killing.

I may not (in fact do not) agree with them, but they are there in spades. Since I write financial crime novels, most of the suspects come from the business community rather than the guy next door. Although for someone they are the guy/gal next door.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

E.B. you make some good points. I didn't think of the Ten Commandments when I wrote this blog. Sometimes, though, it is revenge for what the person has done to a loved one. I'm not sure if that is greed as much as pay back for harming a loved one, or an abused wife who finally snaps and kills her abusive husband.

Jim, my killers do, too. And in some ways, many of them kill in self-defense, maybe not to save their physical life, but the life they know. I find your murderers interesting characters.

KB Inglee said...

My killers find themselves in a situation that they see no way out of. One pushed a guy over a cliff to protect her family. Another, the minister, killed his mistress in their bed because she threatened to out him as a lecher. The wife of a blacksmith killed the man who jilted her and forced her to marry down. She is perhaps the angriest of my killers. Most just are in a bad place and aren't' thinking clearly.

Gloria Alden said...

KB, that's exactly that is the reason so many of my murderers kill, also. Although, I don't agree with murder, I actually feel a little more sorry for my murderer than his/her victim.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Gloria, can't wait to see what you do with your corn maze. So many possibilities! My killers have lived in the community for years and have complex motives for killing.

Gloria Alden said...

Margaret, mine do, too. I haven't quite got to the murder in this one even though I know how it will be done and who does it.

Shari Randall said...

I was just discussing this with my husband the other day. He thinks that every person who would kill another (except in self defense) must be insane in some way. I don't agree - many murderers, especially of the teens-shooting-teens-over-drugs-and-money type - don't seem insane. They just don't seem to value the other person's life as much as their own money or reputation. Though maybe that's the narcissistic personality - and is that a mental illness?

Unknown said...

Since I write true crime in history, most of my murderers have considered crime as their job. I guess if I had to pigeonhole them, most would be greedy.

Patg said...

I can't pinpoint since a complex situation needs a twist in my first book. My next one is the same.
I do like those 'every day people' with complex motives.

KM Rockwood said...

Hmmm. I can certainly see myself killing some one. In fact, I'm of the opinion that we all have it in us, under the right circumstances, to kill. Our societal norms exert a lot of control.

I think that's why some of our returning military personnel have such trouble. One of our greatest taboos---killing another person--has been carefully removed, and it can throw a person's entire moral judgement off. I remember an uncle who was a bomber pilot. He said he was sure he was going to hell. No way could he ever be forgiven for the innocent lives he'd taken.

As for revenge not being specifically mentioned in the ten commandments, we do have the oft-quoted, "Vengeance is Mine, sayth the Lord."

I think a lot of murders are spontaneous, and the killer would take it back 30 seconds later, if he/she could. Of course, those ones don't make nearly as good novels as the carefully planned ones.

Great overview, Gloria.

Polly Iyer said...

I don't think you can tell murderers by their looks or even their actions anymore, until it's too late. Love your photo in the corn maze.

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, I've read that young people, i.e. teens lack impulse control. They're actually not supposed to be mature until in the mid-twenties.I also wonder if some the violent video games have contributed to this.

Jane, I agree with you, at least as far as the wicked women of history you write about. They really do seem to lack any moral compass.

LD Masterson said...

Interesting post. I like the unexpected murderer. The one no one can believe could do it.

I could see myself trying to kill anyone who was threatening the safety of my grandkids. Not sure how I'd accomplish it but I'd be trying.

Gloria Alden said...

Pat, I so agree with you. I like that, also.

KM, you make a good point about our returning military. It could have a lot to do with all the PTSD they suffer from. In the latest book I'm writing, I have a vet suffering from PTSD. Now I think I'll bring that point in somewhere along the way. And yes, I think a lot of murders are spontaneous, especially if alcohol is involved.

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Polly. I grew up next to my grandparents farm so corn fields are not strange to me. However, I'd never gone through a corn maze until last October for research before I started my latest book in process. I think a good mystery is one like you say where you can't tell by their looks or actions until it's too late.

LD, I like that, too, and that's why even though I leave clues, I leave enough red herrings to have most readers guessing until the end. I don't know how I would actually accomplish a murder, either.

Kara Cerise said...

Thank you for this interesting blog, Gloria. I wonder if seeing violence on TV, at the movies, or in video games desensitizes people, especially kids. Also, I think that some murderers lack problem-solving/conflict resolution skills and turn to murder because they can't see any other way out of a bad situation.

Gloria Alden said...

Kara, I think you have a good point. A very powerful book I read once - a true story written by someone from the Ukraine, who went through WWII as a child, wrote about how as the Germans were retreating and leaving behind the bodies of their soldiers, the Ukrainian children were using the frozen bodies as sleds. The book was Babi Yar, I think. I don't remember he author. I probably still have that book someplace.

I also agree with your thoughts on some people lacking problem solving/conflict resolution skills.