Sunday, October 19, 2014
Are You Willing to Murder Someone?
After all, I'd been a mystery reader since I was a kid. Watched a lot of TV, where shooting with a gun was par for the course! Kill the guy, then drink Coca Cola or drive a Ford!
An active member of MWA since 1988, I've heard world-class authorities speak about various aspects of killing. I devoured all the Great Minds' revered tomes on the various arts of murder. I'd become a devoted disciple of John Douglas, Robert Ressler, Jefferson Bass and all the scholars of the science of criminology, behavioral profiling and sociopathic/psychopathic behavior.
My home was filled to the ceiling with books on weapons, terrorism, homicide, poisons, death and dying, crime scenes, human remains, criminal investigation.
Writing fiction about crime and death became as natural to me as breathing. (It didn't bother me a bit when people in non-mystery social settings moved their chairs when they heard that I wrote—gasp—"murder mysteries!")
Along the way I fell in love with the world of spies and espionage. Twenty years ago I became a member of AFIO (The Association of Former Intelligence Officers), attended their elegant annual conventions in Washington, rubbed shoulders with the great men and women of the dark worlds of spying.
My own crime novels have often dealt with topics other than murder—prostitution, kidnapping, sex-trafficking and slavery, terrorism, psychopaths, corporate intelligence.
But, as all crime writers, I was always aware that much crime writing deals with the ultimate battle with—or fear of—death.
Currently, the American serial killer Dennis L. Rader, a former code compliance officer, who killed 10 people in the Wichita, Kansas area, is co-writing a book with Katherine Ramsland, a forensic psychology professor at DeSales University. Both authors hope this book will help investigators and criminologists understand serial killers.
"People like me need to be understood, so the criminal professional field can better understand the criminal mind," Said Rader, who called himself "B.T.K.", which stood for "bind, torture, kill."
I have a confession to make to you, my friends. I do NOT want to read this book!
After decades of immersion in the facts and theories of why bad men and women commit gross crimes… I don't want to know what made this Mr. BTK act out his inner demons!
Yes, I've committed several murders as a crime writer. But in my last novel I had a very hard time in letting my character commit a justified murder. Even though all evidence pointed to the fact that it was necessary—an act of justice—that had to be carried out by a decent and honest man! I spent days delaying the writing of that scene—even though yelled at by the agent…
Tell me, how do YOU feel about reading of the inner machinery and feelings of a serial killer?
In your opinion, how much does a serious crime writer need to know about the down and dirty reasons that make a demented mind turn to murder?
Granted, every serious crime writer needs to know a certain amount of background in—and knowledge of—these dark people who also walk on our sacred earth.
But, with the planet in such a state of upset on so many levels… my inner self yells out… Enough Already!
Please share your thoughts and insights with us, be you a writer or a reader.
Thelma Jacqueline Straw, still proud to be a member of the Mystery Writers of America
P.S. John Sanford, Pulitzer Prize-winning thriller novelist, writes in an interview with Writer's Digest, Nov/Dec: (In the Minnesota prison system... "I talked to all those killers who were smart enough to learn programming… I had long, intimate conversations with these guys… none of them took any responsibility for the murders whatever, even when they admitted doing it." P. 40 )