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


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

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: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


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, October 13, 2016

Writing about Death and Murder

One of my son' John's graduation pictures.

Bittersweet October
                                  Against bittersweet October fields
                                  shrouded purple and gold in memoriam for you,
                                  you who will always remain eighteen,
                                  the hitchhikers waited scorning funeral black
                                  for jagged jeans and jaunty gypsy skirt.
                                  Backpacks, guitars and exuberant youth
                                  on their way to a concert of the Grateful Dead.
                                  Are the dead ever grateful? Are you?
                                  You who were born too late and died so young,
                                  would have enjoyed these relics
                                  of the searching, seething sixties
                                  as did I who was born too soon.
                                  The hitchhikers and I talked of relevance
                                  and the meaning of life,
                                  but on the meaning of death
                                  they were silent.
                                  We parted ways
                                  they to continue on in the sixties,
                                  and I to return to the present
                                  and duty,
                                  and responsibility,
                                  and my aching need of you.

 
My son Joey posed for the cover of my first book - minus the pitchfork.
As a mystery writer I’ve murdered more than thirty people in my Catherine Jewell mystery series and my short stories. I don’t go into gory details. Only the body is discovered and the mystery starts with who did it. A short while ago I got an email from Steve Force, a member of my local writers group, who was reading my first book, and he wrote “I can’t believe you’re so heartless and cruel to murder Alma.” It made me smile.

However, while considering what to write for this blog, I got to thinking not about murder, but the people I’ve lost to death. Maybe that’s why I actually get teary eyed about those people I kill on the page unless they’re a really nasty person.  I lay awake thinking of the deaths of those I’ve loved because this past Friday, my ex-husband died at my son’s house next door from cancer and diabetes. 
Jim in my backyard with granddaughter Sami & her husband

He was lucky enough to have our son, Joe, our daughter, Susan, and granddaughter, Sami with him. He’d been more or less out-of-it for days, but right before he died, he held out his arms to Joe, and according to Sami, who was there, too, he mouthed the words “I love you” to Joe as they hugged and then turned to Susan and did the same thing and then staring at something on the ceiling, quietly passed away. Earlier, our daughter Mary in California called and Susan held the phone up to his ear, and he mouthed the words “I love you” then, too. Hospice had recently come in with help, and a family member was with him days and nights all the time, as well as a nurse’s aide during the day. On Friday morning, I stood beside his bed holding his hand talking to him for two hours. Sometimes he opened his eyes slightly, and when I told him I had to go to the bathroom, he clasped my hand tightly and wouldn’t let me go until my daughter slipped her hand into his in place of mine. When I came back he grabbed it tightly again.
How young we were then.

After two years of going together, and thirty-one years of marriage, he’d left me, which he soon regretted. It’s been more than twenty-seven years since our divorce. After the first year or so, I got over my anger and been quite content living on my own. When he came north on visits, I was always pleasant to him and his third wife, who died this spring. My son Joe went down and packed his stuff to send north, put his house on the market, and brought him to his house so he could care for him, I stopped almost every morning on my way to walk in the woods and brought him yesterday’s newspaper. We visited awhile, but never as long as he wanted me to stay. They were pleasant conversations sometimes remembering things, and he liked to talk about his years with his third wife in Texas and then Florida. When no one was available to take him to doctor appointments, I took him and to lunch, also.
John at the spring prom. He decorated
 the cane he used & was buried with.


Jim’s death is only my latest loss. Thirty-six years ago on Oct. 6, 1980, our oldest son John died from cancer at home in my arms. He was eighteen years old. I blogged about his death in an October 2012 blog about Life Changing Events. It’s in the archives for anyone who wants to read it. Losing a child has to be one of the worse things any parent can face, and I still think of him often, and write a poem for him every year as a memoriam in our local newspaper.










On a camping trip in Maine.

My parents died a year apart. They were wonderful parents and all my siblings and I grieved for them. We accepted Dad’s death because he’d had a serious stroke almost two years before and was in a nursing home unable to walk or talk even though he recognized us and knew what we were saying. When we came to visit, he always took our hand and kissed it.  Mom died a year later when she went in to have a heart valve replaced because the original pig one was no longer functioning. She didn’t survive the operation.
 
My daughter Susan with Megan.
On October 27th, 1993, my granddaughter Megan, Susan’s daughter, died at the age of six years old.  An unknown tumor in her head burst. She went into a coma and stayed in a Pittsburgh hospital for about two months until she was sent to a local rehabilitation hospital. She woke up one night and asked for her mother. She was blind and wouldn’t have recovered her sight, but she knew her name, telephone number and address. She started physical therapy to learn to walk and they were gradually weaning her from her  trach for short periods of time. When she had trouble at one of the physical therapy sessions, the doctor wrote “Do not remove trach.” That night the nurse didn’t notice it, or the doctor hadn’t written it clearly, and the nurse removed it. She suffocated, was revived and sent back to Pittsburgh where she was removed from life support a few days later because she was brain dead. I was there with her when Susan made the decision.


My favorite picture of my brother an avid
gardener. 
In December 2010, my brother Jerry died. He was my sibling closest in age and the one I shared the most memories with. He was in an isolation unit after getting one of those hospital viruses. My sister-in-law and his two daughters and I would go in for brief periods all masked up in caps, gowns and slippers to visit him. On his last day, they let us stay with him all afternoon and evening because they knew he was failing. That day we talked to him and each other sometimes laughing as we told funny Jerry stories. Joanne, my sister-in-law, told him it was okay if he left. We sang to him off and on all afternoon and evening. If we didn’t know all the words to a song, we fit in la-de-da-das. Sometimes silly children’s songs or others, but right before seven o’clock, I suggested singing “On Eagle’s Wings” and when we got to “and hold you in the palm of his hands,” he breathed his last.

He’d donated his body to a medical college for research years before so there was no funeral. Instead a few days before Christmas, there was a dinner in memoriam of him at a local event center. Twice as many people as had been expected came on a cold and snowy day only a few days before Christmas. Many told their stories and memories of Jerry. It was beautiful.

The first dead body I saw was when I was five years old. My father’s mother was in a casket in their parlor. He picked me up to see her. I only vaguely remember it. I’ve been to so many funerals for family members and friends over my life time that I can’t even begin to remember all of them. Have I grown calloused about death? No, I accept it as a natural part of life.

After John died I read so many books about death and dying like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s books, and two others that were very helpful; The Bereaved Parent, by Harriet Sarnoff Schiff, and Harold Kushner’s Why Bad Things Happen to Good People. They didn’t take away the grief, but helped me deal with it.

I love the month of October in spite of the fact it’s the month my son, granddaughter, ex-husband, and a close cousin of mine died.

I have to mention that my ex gave me an expensive gift a little over a month ago – a tombstone.
Go ahead and laugh. I did. It was a sweet and thoughtful gift, though. I will be buried–hopefully not for many, many years--in a plot next to my granddaughter Megan and son John, and close to my parents and numerous other relatives going back over a hundred years. I wrote the epitaph for myself; “teacher, author and poet” You should see the looks on people’s faces when I mention his gift. He’s being cremated with his ashes to be distributed with his 3rd wife somewhere in Florida.








How do you deal with the deaths of loved ones?
What about writing or reading about murders? Does it bother you?






9 comments:

Kait said...

Oh, Gloria. How sad. I am so sorry for your loss. Your losses.

Writing about murder doesn't affect me that much. Perhaps because it occurs off the page so what I'm really writing about are the emotions of the aftermath. It would bother me greatly to write murder in the moment, I think, and in reading, I'll often skim those parts.

Gloria Alden said...

Thanks, Kait. I usually don't have a problem with writing about murder or reading about it, either, although when Elizabeth George killed Thomas Lynley's wife, I was upset, and I've
grieved over the family members of some of my victims, too, and even more for the family of one of my murderers because I got quite attached to one of them who was a child. And when
the background of one of my murderers came out at the end, I felt sorry for him, too. It's
strange how I had no idea why he murdered him at first because he was an arrogant person, so not until he told me towards the end what he'd been going through did I know why he did it.

Margaret Turkevich said...

Gloria, I'm so sorry for your losses. October is a brutal month, isn't it, filled with so many memories? My parents both died on holiday weekends--Easter and Thanksgiving. So holiday celebrations are full of memories and tinged with sadness.

I don't have a problem with murder off the page, but I do have a problem with the gratuitous violence in thrillers and on TV.

Gloria Alden said...

Margaret, it has to be worse losing someone one on a holiday because it dampens the joy you usually feel at those holidays with family.

I also don't like the murders in thrillers on the page or in a movie or TV show. I don't like to see the fear the victim feels or the graphic details of their death. Bodies found are okay, but not what leads up to their death.

Shari Randall said...

So very sorry for your losses, Gloria. Your graceful attitude toward death and life is reassuring. The poem for your son is wonderful. I always enjoy your poetry, but this one truly moves me.
I don't like the gratuitous violence in movies and in some thrillers. That's not what attracts me to the mystery genre at all and I'm a bit worried about the folks who enjoy it and provide it.

KM Rockwood said...

Gloria, I admire your strength and ability to move on in life despite the sadnesses.

Your ability to forgive your exhusband and provide support to both him and your extended family during his last days is a true picture of your character.

Warren Bull said...

This is a touching blog. I'm sorry for your loss. I'm glad you continue to be a caring and forgiving person.

vicki batman said...

Oh my, you write about loved ones with such poignancy. I had a bad year last year-both parents, nephew, and my 22 year old kitty. All left within four months. I don't think my head coped for a while, but my brain knew this happens. Today, I happen to be blogging about my husband's ten year issue with cancer. He's a strong one as many people are. Sending a big hug your way.

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Shari. That poem was based on an actual happening one day when I was taking a summer class at Kent State. I can't tell you how many people told me after my son died, that they couldn't go on if that happened to them. But what can a mother do especially if she has other children. I don't like unnecessary violence in books or movies, either.

Thank you so much, KM. I feel sad for those who can't cope with losses. It doesn't mean that going on with one's life means they don't care.

Thank you, Warren. It doesn't help anyone to wallow permanently in anger or grief.

I'm sorry, Vicki. At least my losses were spread out. Thank you for the hug, and I'll keep your husband in my thoughts and prayers.