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

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


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 for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and 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.

Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.

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


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Close to Home

I live in South Carolina. I’m sure you know that on June 17th, our state became a victim of domestic terrorism. A young man entered the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, during a prayer meeting. He sat with the congregation for an hour, then pulled out a gun. He said “I’m here to kill black people”, or something like that, and fired on the sweet Christians gathered there. Nine people died. Nine beautiful souls massacred at the one place that should always be safe—God’s house.

As a mystery writer, I’m often trying to fathom what happens in the mind of a killer. I have a WIP, long neglected, about domestic terrorism. But having it happen this close to me is a different experience altogether.  I wasn’t there, I didn’t get shot.  I didn’t personally know the victims (though I’ve long admired Senator Clem Pinckney, the minister and state senator killed). Yet I feel, profoundly, this loss. It is like wound inside me. Inside my home state.  Healing will take time and work.

What makes this tragedy different for me is the killer himself. A young Caucasian man, from a good family, from where I live. He didn’t have a job. He did have a mission. He had strong on-line connections with a white supremacy movement and far-right groups like The Council of Conservative Citizens.  He posted a picture of himself holding a gun and a Confederate flag. He wrote a “Manifesto” in which he blamed “blacks” for “being inferior.”

He wanted to start a race war.

Why is this relevant? Because the killer had his hate reinforced.  A young man, not quite succeeding in adulthood, found on-line ties that gave him a sense of power.  The hatred grew and grew until he became murderous. Law enforcement has alluded to others who may have known of his plan and DID NOT STOP HIM. Charges may be filed against these colluders.

On the night he entered the Mother Emanuel church, he said he almost didn’t go through with his plan because “everyone was so nice to him.” Maybe they touched a younger version of the killer, the kid still inside who desperately needed a moment of grace. Sadly, hate won that night, and he carried out the massacre.

The story doesn’t stop here.  In one of the most powerful moments I’ve ever witnessed on TV, this happened: the family members of the victims faced the killer via video feed and stated, “I forgive you.” They spoke of hurt and anguish and never being the same again, yet uttered these words over and over  “I forgive you. May God have mercy on you.” http://abcnews.go.com/US/dylann-roof-hears-victims-families-speak-1st-court/story?id=31896001

Every time I watch this video, something catches in my throat.

The killer will be brought to justice. But more importantly, hate did not win. His violent act did not breed other fights; it did not lead to rioting in the streets. My state—and the nation—responded with prayer vigils, religious services, solidarity protests, and unity gatherings. We are coming to terms with the negative symbol of the Confederate flag flying at our state capitol, and are working together to bring it down.  (Three statehouse rallies have been held, drawing several thousand people, myself included. Three more rallies are planned.)

I believe the flag will come down. I don’t believe that’s the solution, though. Racism continues to exist, in more subtle forms, and we must, as a nation, address it. The messages of hate that the killer found on-line continue to exist. Other vulnerable people may embrace them, may have their hatred fed by them, and may commit heinous acts, though I pray this won’t happen again. I pray that, one day, we are less a nation of “we vs they” and more a nation of “us.”

And what gives me hope that this might happen is the video link above. If the victims’ families can rise above their pain to forgive the killer, I can’t help but think love can win over hate.

When I return to my domestic terrorism WIP, I may view it through an entirely different lens.  I may have less sympathy for my fictional killer, but may see him in a broader context. 

Your thoughts? 


Paula Gail Benson said...

Carla, you've written powerfully about events and images that have affected us all profoundly. I pray, as you do, that this will not happen again and that we can be united in peace rather than divided by hate.

Jim Jackson said...

Forgiveness is such a powerful force, bringing positive benefits to the forgiver, possibly the forgiven, and certainly to the rest of the world. I do not know I could be that strong, but I would hope to be.

~ Jim

KM Rockwood said...

For several years, I taught social studies to special education students in an inner city Baltimore public school. I live in Pennsylvania, and had not previously studied much specific to Maryland.

The first surprise was the state motto, which translates as "Womanly words, manly deeds."

The second, and it was a shock, were the words to the state song, Maryland, My Maryland.

It was written in 1861, and is a call to join Virginia in the Civil War. Lincoln is referred to as "vandal," "despot" and "tyrant." The song calls for Maryland to rise and fight the "Northern scum."

I understand honoring the bravery of all who fought for causes in which they believe, but in this case, as with the Confederate battle flag, we express support for treason and hate. That, I don't understand.

carla said...

Forgiveness is an incredibly powerful thing. As a work-in-progress human being, this is something I am ALWAYS working on. What those families did was really unbelievable. Yet TRUE.

Shari Randall said...

"I pray that, one day, we are less a nation of “we vs they” and more a nation of “us.” Just beautiful, Carla.

Unknown said...

I too was overwhelmed by the grace of the families of Senator Pinckney and the other victims.
Sadly I lack this grace.
I was furiously, incredibly angry when this happened. I still am. This young man’s murderous hatred was fueled by many in our society. A society where there is a war on Black people. A society where there is a war on the underprivileged and a war on our most vulnerable citizens.
I am glad we did not have riots in SC. I am glad the flag is coming down.
What I fear is that most people will give themselves congratulatory pats on the back and all will return to normal. A normal where discrimination is rampant in employment, housing, medical care and education. I’ve been an activist for over 50 years. I am tired. Will there will be people who will not stop fighting for equal rights , who will not stop fighting for the very young and the very old, who will not allow a few wealthy companies to dictate what is right for all of us? I hope so. I am tired and I am still angry. And that is my truth.

carla said...

Dee you are so right. We can't let the flag's removal be the solution. It is the FIRST STEP of the solution, which will involve soul-searching and dramatic change in how we see our brothers and sisters, no matter their race, gender, etc status.

Gloria Alden said...

Carla, I don't live in South Carolina and I've never been there, however, I also got teary eyed over the whole business just listening to it on NPR and reading about it in the newspaper. I can't understand that kind of hatred in the young man and in the white supremacists who support it. The ironic thing is many consider themselves Christians. That
whole outlook whether its those in our country or the radical Islamists in other countries totally baffles me. Of course, although I don't feel personal hatred for any one person I know,or even anything close to it, I can feel hatred for those groups I mentioned. Hatred
for their cruel and hateful behaviors, especially those who've deluded themselves into thinking they're doing it because it's God's will.

Kait said...

Wonderful post, Carla. the forgiveness of the families was breathtaking.

Polly Iyer said...

What a beautiful post, Carla. I cried when I saw that film. I'm a Yankee living in SC. When I moved here, I was astounded by how many people saw me as an enemy. Now, I've lived here longer than I lived in the North, and I still get occasional comments about being a Yankee as if it explains my points of view, even by people who should know better. Maybe websites that promote hate and murder should be shut down just like sites that sell and display children's pornography or incite pedophilia. If that infringes on First Amendment rights, then why not a clarification of what the First Amendment is about. Wish I knew the answer.

Ellis Vidler said...

Beautifully said, Carla. I admire the families who forgave the killer, but I doubt if I'd have the grace or courage to do the same. I've lived over three-quarters of my life in South Carolina and love many things about it. Most of the people are good and kind and try to lead decent, honorable lives with respect for all; sadly there are also many who live in fear and hatred and need to find a target for all that rage. What can we do to reach those people? I don't have the answer either, but I hope we find one soon.

carla said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. What an amazing few weeks this has been. Senator Pinckney's widow was on the Senate floor today after the third reading passed the bill to move the flag onto the House. A very touching moment.
Yet, we have so much more we need to do ...

Unknown said...

Wow. Love this perspective. I, too am moved so deeply every time I think about the forgiveness offered by those families. Just amazing.