Why Being a Mystery Author is Murder on my Social Life

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

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?

41 thoughts on “Why Being a Mystery Author is Murder on my Social Life

  1. I love your list. I don’t tend to talk about murder all that much in real life, but I sure do at mystery conventions. I often wonder how people not part of the convention look at us.

    I do like to remind my friends I read murder mysteries, so I know how to get away with murder. (Of course, then I usually tell them that the killers are always caught in my books, but I do like to give them a couple of seconds to think about it.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Ha ha! YES. At my first Malice Domestic, I leaned over and said, “And then there were two” after the elevator cleared out to leave me and another rider. I then realized that person was not part of the convention.

        Liked by 5 people

    1. What a fabulous list, Kathleen! Number 9 made me laugh out loud. 😂
      So, yesterday someone I know was researching how long it takes a body to decompose. Is this a safe space to mention that? Asking for a friend…

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Lisa … at our body farm here in CO is where they discovered that cats like to eat dead bodies. Next time we’re together, let’s discuss this in overly-loud tones in public.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Ha! One of my favorite memories is being in Panera with my critique group (remember meeting in person?) discussing plot problems about a book, which of course included murder, and having someone come up to ask, “Uh, what are you talking about?” LOL

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I think there’s no hope for me—not that I ever had much of a social life—because I don’t take this as a cautionary list. I’ve ADDED these tips to my sparkling party conversation. I’ll be the hit of the party! One of the cool kids like you, Kathy!

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Fab list, Kathy! Number 4: When I was hanging out at coffeehouses researching My Fair Latte, I learned one of the baristas was a pre-med major — and she’d been to the body farm here in the U.P.! I may have creeped her out with my enthusiasm on the subject, lol!

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Yes! So many times. My critique partner and I were at lunch brainstorming a plot idea last year and at one point, everyone at the table next to us whipped their heads around when she lamented, of her cozy village, “There’s no one left in this town to kill!”

    Fantastic list, Kathy! You’re so funny.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. When entering Canada for the Left Coast Crime conference, the customs’ agent asked about the purpose of my trip and then asked what conference I was attending. After answering “Left Coast Crime” he proceeded to ask me a lot more detailed questions until he was satisfied that I wasn’t part of a mob or crime syndicate!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. These are wonderful! So many times out at dinner at Malice Dmestic with author oaks like the Wickeds and Sheila Connolly, we’ve seen the wait staff and other customers start backing away with horrified looks on their faces.

    Liked by 2 people

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