Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sex, Politics and The Fine Art of Murder

                                                        by Janis Patterson

One of the rules for this – and most other writers’ blogs – is that we can’t mention sex or politics. Of course, as I am a contrarian, the very mention of the word ‘can’t’ is a red flag. So –
Ah, that felt good! Another rule – if not exactly broken – at least bruised around the edges. The life of a dedicated contrarian is never easy.
Of course, being a mystery writer makes it simpler. Breaking societal rules is our business. We get to create all the havoc and do all the killings we want to and, as long as they stay on paper, we’re honored and paid. Well, not as much as we’re worth to tell the truth, but at least we don’t get arrested.
I’ve killed any number of people who’ve annoyed me or ticked me off in real life – some of them repeatedly – and I’ve enjoyed it each time. Much neater than reality, much cheaper than psychotherapy and with the distinct potential of making money for my evil deeds.
I’m too much of a wimp to commit a crime in real life – beyond breaking the speed limit every once in a while, of course – but on paper I can kill anybody I want without the slightest tinge of remorse or worry. Author P.D. James said it best – “I love the power of authorship. I can kill and leave the body right there on the page.”
Of course, killing or robbing or breaking the law some other way is not the main reason for crime fiction. Crime fiction is double barreled wish fulfillment. In the pages of our books we and our readers can without guilt or risk mentally commit any crime we choose – then in the same book we can take the opposite view and be assured that justice and peace will prevail, that crimes will be solved and perpetrators will be punished. It’s a win-win situation!
There is a security in crime fiction. We know (most of the time – there are a few exceptions to the justice-prevailing rule) that the bad guy will be caught and punished. It’s a surety that is all too lacking in real life, but can be had in the pages of almost every crime novel. Not bad.
Actually it really isn’t bad at all – we get to get rid of those who annoy us (multiple times if we wish), we get the good warm fuzzy feeling of the world being in proper accord and we get paid – all in 80,000 words or so. Sometimes being a writer rocks! (Will someone please remind me of that the next time I’m wrestling with a sagging middle and an uncooperative protagonist?)

Janis Susan May Patterson is a 7th-generation Texan and a 3rd-generation wordsmith who writes in mystery, romance, and horror. Once an actress and a singer Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. Janis’ husband even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.


Morgan Mandel said...

Yes, getting even in a book affords wonderful satisfaction for an author!

Morgan Mandel

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Yes, I love it that the bad guys always get what they deserve in the end! Good post.

Radine Trees Nehring said...

I've never been the rebellious kind. Always obeyed teachers and Scout leaders, kept quiet during public events, even hid in my closet reading while Mom entertained my guests at a noisy tenth birthday party -- for me. (Well, I guess that was kinda rebellious.) But now? Sex. Politics. Woo, no lightning. Will Janis and I be chastised? No, I will NOT tremble.

Maria Iemma said...

I love mysteries, I love that the good guy wins and that the bad guys have to pay for their misdeeds

Earl Staggs said...

Susan, I must be a contrarian, too, because I'm with you all the way. As crime writers, we can rid the world of bad people and serve justice the way it should be done. At least on paper. If we ruled the world, it would be done in real life, too.