Making a killing with murder

November 29, 2007

Today’s guest blog is by a wonderful author and friend, Wendy Roberts:

 

When people first hear I’m an author, the next question is almost always, “Do you write children’s books?” Since I have four children and I’m relatively “nice” they believe that is a logical assumption. Though when I describe whatever book I’m currently working on, usually there is an uncomfortable pause sometimes followed by them slowly backing away with fear in their eyes. To skip to the nitty gritty, my husband has taken to introducing me at business functions as, “My wife, Wendy, who kills people for a living.” At that, people will laugh politely before quickly excusing themselves or slowly back away.Wendy Roberts

I write murder mysteries and, yes, I’ve been known to kill someone off while sitting on the sidelines at a child’s baseball game. In a recent interview I talked about my newest book, The Remains of the Dead, and told the interviewer the story was about a woman who cleaned crime scenes for a living and spoke to the dead.  She joked sweetly, “And you look like such a nice person.”

It seems what people really want to know is when does the “nice” side drop away and the savage, murderous side kick in? For me, it’s usually about the time someone cuts me off in traffic. The truth is, I enjoy writing about seemingly ordinary characters and making their lives extraordinary. Although I enjoy adding a comedic element to my stories, I also love to torture my heroine with relationship problems, day-to-day anxieties and then up the ante with a murder or two.

I confess that, yes, I have been known to get my murderous thoughts from my day-to-day dealings in the real world. Who wouldn’t want to take that rude, cantankerous auto mechanic and brutally slaughter him? Ahem. On paper, of course. Now I know you’re a “nice” person because you read Susan’s blog. But, c’mon, who pushed your buttons enough this week that you wouldn’t mind seeing them suffer? Was it the butcher? The baker? That condescending banker?

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| 7 Comments
  • What a difference your perspective makes! I realized at an early age that I had an anger problem. I would pretend my pillow was someone who was bullying me at school and I would lose it! I would start choking them …and the anger take over until I was choking the life out of them and shaking them violently. I got totally into it.

    This was so alien to my image of who I was repulsed by what I did to that people. I was raised as a pacifist and don’t like violence or conflict. Coming face to face with a side of me that could kill in a fit of vicious uncontrolled anger, terrified me!

    I couldn’t believe that I was capable of that!

    Something died that night I think I murdered my dark side. That is the last time I have had to face that side of me.

    I can certainly see how killing people by writing fiction could save a lot of money on Psyche doctors!

    I can carry on long discussions inside my mind …working through what I need to discuss with my wfe. Once I get it all “discussed” the matter is “settled” …and it is a shock to me whan I learn she doesn’t remember the “agreement”!!!

    Having the ability to murder your adversaries(in print) seems like a very useful skill!

  • April, I burst out laughing at the visual of you reading murder scenes to your beautiful baby!

    B.E., you’re absolutely right that “we’re safer people”! I think I’d explode if I didn’t kill someone off regularly ha ha!

  • Nobody this week, Wendy, but I have one book that pretty much does a wholesale slaughter of people who’ve pushed my buttons too far over the years. (People whose names, characteristics and descriptions have been changed sufficiently to avoid anyone else recognizing them for the people they are. Heh. I’ll always know though.) I don’t know if it’ll ever be publishable, but it was certainly cathartic to write. =o)

    Just because we long to kill people, and we do it on paper, doesn’t mean we’ll ever do it in real life. I think because we do write murders we’re safer people to be around than the average maniac who holds it all inside until he explodes.

    I’m looking forward to picking up a copy of Remains of the Dead. Slavering over it, in fact. But I’ll have to wait until next week when I go x-mas shopping. Darn it all.

  • Oh, nice! I love books with a body count which is only weird because I do love the romance genre, but my second favorite is books with a high body count. I should say mystery books, but I hate mysteries. I’m always impatient with the whodunnit aspect. Still, I’m intrigued by the process with which the murderer is caught and usually am drawn by the characters. I would have to admit that I haven’t read any of yours, but I’ll definitely check one out. My reading has slowed down considerably after having a baby last month, but I am still reading which is nice. Nothing else to do while you’re up at 2AM and 4AM staring into big, brown baby eyes connected to a baby who thinks it’s playtime! So, because she doesn’t have a grasp on English yet, I read to her… and lately, they’ve been murder mysteries.

    As for when I feel “murderous”, it’s definitely in traffic (and we have a lot in the Metro D.C. area) and, in general, anyone who makes my life more difficult when he/she doesn’t have to do so. I mean, really. It takes more effort to ruin my hour than to just help out a fellow human. That irks me. Maybe not to murder, but I can see where murdering someone on paper would be satisfying.

  • Yup, Wendy. I also have those murderous flashes, mostly in traffic, although I don’t write about them the way you do. What a great conversation starter: My wife kills people for a living!

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