“How did you end up writing murder mysteries?” Implication being, “Why would a nice woman like you write about murderers?” I’ve been asked this question more than a few times.
It started innocently enough for me. See if any of the telltale signs apply to you.
You might be a mystery writer if:
While driving you work out scenes, saying the dialogue out loud. At a stoplight you notice the driver in the car beside you staring. You begin to nod your head rhythmically as if you are singing along with the radio instead of talking to yourself or your imaginary friends.
While watching mystery movies with friends and loved ones you feel the need to point out significant clues and red herrings.
You explain how you knew who the killer was early on in the movie. They say, “Oh, I bet you read the book.”
You pretend you read the book even if you didn’t so you don’t seem like a know-it-all.
I’ve read that the average person walks past a murderer 26 times in his or her life. So, like me, you observe people in malls, restaurants and libraries trying to pick those people out of the crowd.
You’re sitting in a meeting at the day job, with the boss droning on and on. You’re trying to listen with one ear just in case, but your mind is elsewhere. You are not unique in this. Everyone at the meeting is thinking about something else. Only they’re thinking about what they’re going to have for lunch or do this weekend. You’re thinking about them, what kind of character you’d make them in your novel and how you’d describe them.
You notice Bob from accounting sitting next to you is staring out the window. Snow has begun to fall. You can almost read his mind. He’s fantasizing about a vacation on a tropical island. You start writing the scene for him in your head, describing him sitting on a white sand beach with turquoise water lapping against the shore, a fruity cocktail crowned with a little umbrella in his hand. Then you leave Bob and begin to walk down the beach. It’s now your vacation and you’re collecting seashells along the shore. You spot something shiny peeking through the dune. You brush sand away and see it’s a ring – adorning the finger of a dead hand, connected to a very dead body buried in the sand. You wave and call out for help.
The police arrive and naturally suspect you, since you discovered the body. But you know this body has no connection to you. You’re on vacation thousands of miles from home. You never could have afforded a vacation like this if you hadn’t won it in a raffle. Especially, since your financial planner absconded with your life savings.
The police identify the body as your financial planner. You become their prime suspect. You understand that the two of you showing up on the same tiny tropical island at the same time is a huge coincidence. Has the killer orchestrated all this – you winning the vacation and being on hand when the body’s discovered – to frame you for murder? Who is this killer? Then you remember Bob from accounting sitting on the beach, trying to look innocent as he sips on his drink with the little umbrella in it.
Suddenly you turn to look Bob in the face, but he’s gone. In fact, everyone at the meeting has gone to lunch and you’re sitting alone at the conference table.
This is kinda, sort of the way it started for me.
What about you? Do you display the symptoms of being a mystery writer or incurable mystery reader? Do you have a plot point or an ending tickling at your brain for our little beach murder? Please share in the comments.