Friday, May 27, 2011
Killing--it ain't easy
For some people, the murderous acts we must commit in our mysteries is the hardest thing for them to do. For some people, it's the whole reason they began writing mysteries in the first place. I admit to being pretty squeamish, and not always supplying all the, um, details about my murders. But do I regret any characters I kill?
Some people use their books to kill off people in their lives that are particularly hideous and horrible. I've never done that. I don't think Lydia McKenzie, my amateur sleuth, would care to investigate if the person who died had been awful. Instead I try to make the person who dies someone who is mourned and missed. So I am full of regrets.
A smart friend once told me that my first book, POSED FOR MURDER, was really about a person in mourning. I really liked that description. Lydia's friend Marie is a talented photographer with a great appetite for life. She loves throwing big parties and traveling. So when she dies, Lydia misses her terribly. And then she finds out she was hiding quite a few secrets. That's a big shock to Lydia, but it doesn't make her miss Marie even less--or wish she was still around.
In DEAD IN THE WATER, the victim isn't a close friend of Lydia's. Glenda is a prostitute and one of the subject's of her photography. But there was something special about Glenda, despite her addictions and craziness. She lived life on the edge and paid the price. Lydia wishes Glenda's life could have been different, and mourns the woman she might have been--a loving mother to her three children, a good friend, and someone who might have had a good job if she'd had all the benefits that Lydia had been given.
Regrets? I've got them. But not enough to go back and change my victims. They lost their lives for the good of my story.