Being a Mystery Author Is Murder On My Social Life

Here’s a snippet of a conversation between me and my best friend at a recent Jazzercise class:

Me: Did you read about the body found floating in the Pacific?

Bestie: Murdered by the scientist, right?

Me (tying my shoes): Then decapitated.

Bestie (lunging into a calf stretch): I think they only found the torso.

Me: Oh, I hadn’t heard that.

It was at this point in the conversation that I realized that our fellow Jazzercisers were listening to us, their mouths tiny circles of shock. It was also at this point that I realized that murder may not be everyone’s favorite topic.

There are inherent dangers to being a mystery author. Writer’s cramp. The occasional ego-shattering blow. A diet comprised largely of pizza-flavored Pringles and red wine. (Just speaking for myself here.) I think one of the greatest risks for me is embarrassing myself and horrifying others with comments and observations borne from days spent planning characters’ deaths.

In order to appear normal-ish—and receive invitations to social events—I’ve made a list of helpful tips. Here they are, in no particular order.

Tip 1: When making dinner for guests, don’t comment on how easy it is to poison someone.

Tip 2: Refrain from telling friends that their next vacation spot has an unusually high concentration of serial killers.

Tip 3: Don’t mention how someone’s scratches look like defensive wounds.

Tip 4: Avoid bringing up decomposition timeframes.

Tip 5: Think twice about telling people about the best way to dispose of a body.

Tip 6: Remember that most people don’t want to know their state’s homicide investigation procedures.

Tip 7: Don’t offer recommendations for how to get out bloodstains.

Tip 8: Quell the urge to share your most creative murder techniques.

Tip 9: Don’t mutter “Amateur” when you hear about a murderer being caught.

Tip 10: If it seems like a good idea to demonstrate the best chokehold, remember: it isn’t.

So that’s me. How ‘bout you? Does being a mystery reader and/or author make it difficult to not share your…um…research?

KathyKathleen Valenti is the author of the Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series, which includes her Agatha- and Lefty-nominated debut novel, Protocol. When Kathleen isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning advertising copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running. Learn more at



27 thoughts on “Being a Mystery Author Is Murder On My Social Life

  1. Great post, Kathi. I once overheard two women on a cruise ship talking about killing someone and disposing of the body. What to do? Run and report them to security, or wait to hear more? Turns out one of them was writing a mystery and was telling her companion about it.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Oh my gosh, you had me laughing so hard! Isn’t it weird how some people just do not get it when you are excited to read about murders? My girls just shake their heads and tell me I should take up a normal hobby! Hey, I craft and read craft books. Okay, I admit most of the craft books also have a murder in them, but is that really all that bad??

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Love it! Thanks for a morning laugh.

    I don’t tend to share, but I definitely have some moments where things I’ve learned from mysteries pop into my head. And you should see some of the looks I get when I mention how much I love to read Murder mysteries.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. LOL, Kathy! I just did a spit take on #3! I might also suggest, when watching a video with friends and you’ve figured out the mystery, be sure NOT TO say the killer’s name out loud. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Great post, Kathy! Since I live in Santa Cruz–famously called “the murder capital of the world” because of the four serial killers we had there back in the ’70s (and also because of the movie Lost Boys), I’m very conscious of tip number 2.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. These are some good tips. I wish I’d read your list this morning. The UPS driver is still upset with me over a misunderstood chokehold demonstration. I figured he’d want to know the right way to do it for the holidays.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Kathy, this is one of the funniest posts I’ve ever read! I almost choked on my giant snowman cookie. Last month my sister (who hates murder mysteries of any kind) and I were staying at my daughter’s, who was away. I was showing off my dubious Amazon Echo skills: “Alexa, where is the best place to hide a body?” Alexa used to give a real answer (she offered directions to the nearest swamp). But now she just says, “Call 911 right away.” I was worried the cops might show up (and it would be recorded in my daughter’s Alexa history, and possibly get her arrested)!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Chiming in late here, but just wanted to say: I love this post so much! I wish we could get together for pizza-flavored pringles and red wine to toast your brilliance! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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