A couple of weeks ago, Guest Chick Loretta Ross talked about people who inspired her to write mysteries by making her want to kill them. (If you missed this post, you should go read it now, because it’s hilarious!) We were so inspired by Loretta that we decided to talk about who we’ve killed off in our own books — or who is next on the chopping block.
I can’t say who I would really like to kill off in my books, because I’d like to leave my options open and I would hate to leave behind incriminating evidence. [Insert smiling angel emoji here.] In my first book, Terror in Taffeta, my murder victim’s name is literally ONE LETTER OFF from my super annoying, high-maintenance college roommate’s name. And in Dying on the Vine, one of my characters is based on a former coworker. One day, I walked into his cubicle and tapped him on the shoulder, and he freaked out on me and — I’m not even joking — screamed at me and said I should “never sneak up on him like that again.” Because, you know, I tapped him on the shoulder. So when I started writing a certain high-strung assistant wedding planner, let’s just say the character came pretty naturally to me. I won’t say what actually happens to David — oops, I mean “Stefan” — but it was sure fun writing him!
When I used to teach at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, I would get a free class every semester I taught. One semester, I signed up for a mystery writing class with Jerrilyn Farmer. My motivation? I wanted to kill a writer I will not name who I worked with on a show I will not name. I wrote a chapter set in a sitcom writers’ room where I set him up as someone just begging to be offed. Oh, it was glorious!
On the day we were reading our work aloud, I smugly waited my turn. The smugness faded as classmate after classmate – none of them the professional writer that I was – read their chapters. Everything they read was better than what I’d written. Chastened, I passed on my chance to share my work with the class. It would be twelve years before I even thought about trying to write another mystery. But there was one benefit to that class: it rid me of the urge to murder my co-worker.
I’m from Memphis, and it has long been a dream of mine to kill an Elvis impersonator (on paper, people!). In the next book in the Liv & Di in Dixie series (Til Death Do Us Party, which comes out March 27), my dream finally came true! Mama and Earl decide to get married in Las Vegas, with Liv and the gang along for the ride. Before they can say “I do,” somebody does in their Elvis impersonator minister at the Vegas chapel, and Liv’s cousin, an aspiring Elvis tribute artist, becomes the prime suspect. I won’t lie, y’all, I had way too much fun writing this murder!
Interestingly enough, no one in my book are based on actual people. (Trust me when I say that my entire family finds this very very, very disappointing.) As I mentioned in the comments of Loretta’s great guest post, when it comes to folks I want to kill—in the nicest way possible, of course!—it’s usually tourists who treat Times Square like it’s Disneyland. Just today someone literally stopped right in front of me to take a pic of the Neil Simon theatre sign. But I also have a new one to add to my list: People who walk too fast in a revolving door. I am only 5’4 and I have super short legs so I take super small steps. There are times when someone gets in a revolving door behind me and suddenly I feel like I’m a treadmill. And let’s not mention the one guy who actually got in the SAME section of the revolving door as I did. Let’s just say he’ll never do that again to anyone.
The victims of Stonedale reside wholly within that fictional world; there is no real-world correlation. And there’s no one on my fictional hit list; I can’t even think that way. In fact, no one was even killed in the second Lila book! I wanted to present a mystery that was not a murder mystery, specifically. And since I write cozies, where violence is offstage anyway for the most part, I thought it would be fine. But when the book came out, so did a few hey, where’s the body? questions. I was not expecting that. 🙂 Anyway, there is indeed a body drop in book three (unfortunately for that character…sorry, character).
Not only have I bumped off characters based on people who annoyed me, but my entire series The Ladies Smythe & Westin was actually inspired by a particularly horrible person who, as the phrase goes, “needed killin’.” Unfortunately, I can’t say who the greedy, sleazy person was in real life, or I might get sued. In my second book, Permanently Booked, it was the killer who was based on someone so annoying he/she just HAD to be sent away for a long, long time. Oh yeah, writing murder mysteries is the ultimate revenge!!
Readers, who would you like to kill? (On paper, of course.) Let us know in the comments below!
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