Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: Things I Shouldn't Know


The Trials of a Cirme Writer: Things I Shouldn't Know

As with my last piece on this subject about my internet search history (found here), there are things about certain topics that I shouldn't have any knowledge of. I mean, the average crime reader these days has some idea about Forensics - even someone who casually watches something like CSI or NCIS knows that too. People often say that criminals are getting smarter, but I think it has more to do with the fact that there is often a play book on the TV or online that shows how to do certain things and not get caught.

Now the majority of my books that deal with crime have a murder plot. It's rare that I deal with any other kinds of crime, other than in passing. My latest book, WAITING ON YOU, is one of the exceptions to that rule. While I wouldn't class it as a crime or mystery book at all, it does include some aspects of criminal behaviour, which of course means that you have to either have watched enough of CASTLE or THE BILL to have some idea about what the police would do in those circumstances. It's not all blood, guts and gore.

However, there are some things that I have no business knowing. I touched on it slightly when writing the other piece in this series about search histories. I shouldn't know that there may not be something called the "perfect" crime, but there are possibilities that come pretty damn close. I am an avid consumer of procedural crime show - I love NCIS and CASTLE and will pretty much give anything a watch a few times if it's crime related and has piqued my interest. I also have numerous books on the subject - both fact and fiction and use those to plot murders (I'll have another piece talking about that) as well as what kind of things police look for when they arrive at the scene of a crime.

Due to the fact that the DYING THOUGHTS series focuses on Tara's ability to see the last moments of someone's life, I do deal a lot with the grisly details of death. I have a pretty good idea how long it would take to alert passers-by to a body on a hot summer day. I know the various stages of decomp, and while I'm nowhere near ready to start separating DNA samples and comparing them to suspects, I also have some idea how a crime lab works from my book, LYNNE & HOPE. These are all things that interest me, and are relevant to my job, but still, I wonder how much of it I just shouldn't know!

In one of the books I'm working on now, there have been a string of violent assaults and deaths. While the deaths are pretty straight forward, the beatings and violence have needed a creative mind. I didn't want the attackers to have a plan. I wanted them to try new things and use different weapons, so at one point they will have used bleach to blind and chemically burn someone, another time they will have just kicked, hit and slashed until they were happy with the damage caused. In another work in progress, I am dealing with a series of violent sexual assaults and murders. Whilst I did want an MO for these attacks, I also wanted them to escalate, starting with just kidnappings, moving onto violent rape, and then onto murder.

These are subjects that require a lot of creative thought and I don't know whether to be proud or horrified that I haven't really struggled to think up new scenarios for each of these pieces. There are some parts of the job that make me question the state of my own mind and staring at bodies in different states of decomposition is one of them. I guess you could say that I've always been rather morbid and at least I'm only killing people in print. Still, you do have to wonder. As they say in CASTLE, there are two kinds of people who sit around thinking up ways to kill people: Mystery writers and psychopaths. I think to think I'm the first.

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