Killing Characters

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. 


Marla Cooper

CotC Marla Cooper

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!

Ellen Byron


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.

Vickie Fee

vickieI’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!

Kellye Garrett


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.

Cynthia Kuhn


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).

Lisa Q. Mathews

CotC Word balloons

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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16 thoughts on “Killing Characters

  1. Oh my word! Where do I start?
    I do have a coworker and a boss who belittle me. Me! The coworker is in my novel draft. Kellye thinks I have her too mean and out there. Unfortunately I wrote her exactly as she is in real life. 😂 I will tell you all about it at Malice. My boss I definitely would love to stick a knife into on paper. I remember one time we had an intern, and he was asking for stuff to give her to do. I said I had a case that needed copies ASAP. “Oh no, that’s not important enough for her to do,” he said. So, instead of a minimally paid and untrained intern taking a day to copy a case file, a GS-13 (me) wasted her “nonimportant” time doing it.
    But you chicks just gave me a great idea. I need to figure out how to kill off my sister. We’ve been at it for years, her always telling me what I have to do about my children (she has none) and our father (she bosses him around too), and my hobbies are meaningless to boot. I remember when dad showed her with pride the bookcases I designed and built by hand. Her response? The stain on th shelves matched the stain on the wood floors! And she tells me I know nothing about my job… audits that I’ve been doing for 17 years, accounting for another 10 and 2 degrees. She works in a similar field with no education, but I know nothing compared to her superiority. Oh yeah! I want to kill her off!
    I’ll be happy to let any of the chicks develop her to off her as well! 😂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I’ve only killed off one character who corresponded to a “real life” person. I was volunteering at the time and let’s just say the experience didn’t end well. So I got my revenge – literary style. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ooh, Liz, the volunteering reference just reminded me of someone else who would make an excellent not-long-for-this-world character! I’ll go write that down now.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I will plead the fifth (believe me, I do have a list). However, I loved reading all of yours.

    Ellen, I didn’t realize that Jerrilyn Farmer taught the class you took at UCLA. Loved her mysteries. I wish she were still writing.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. My understanding is she had some personal things happen in her life, and that greatly delayed book 8. Then she wrote the book with Joan Rivers, and she was hoping to use that to also launch book 8 in her original series. There were supposed to be more books with Joan. I’m not sure what happened after that since I haven’t seen her since the signing for her last book.

        I know her boys were getting high school, college age. Maybe she just didn’t have time for it and decided her family came before writing. At least, I hope that’s what happened.


  4. Well, it seems as if we all have SOMEONE who needs to be immortalized (de-immortalized?) in our books. (Except you, Cynthia. You are simply way too nice.)

    Liked by 2 people

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