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?
Kathleen 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 www.kathleenvalenti.com.