What I Learned About Life from Writing Murder Mysteries
by Lauren CarrThe other day, I was on a radio program. During the interview, the topic of my husband came up. The lead host, a long-time fan, announced the interesting fact that my husband of twenty-five years has never read even one of my murder mysteries.
New to the show, the other host, who hadn’t had a chance to read any of my books, was shocked at this information—as many people are. After thirteen novels, all of them best-sellers, my husband has yet to read a single one.
“It’s okay,” I said with a shrug. “It used to bother me, but it doesn’t anymore. My husband reads non-fiction and is supportive of my writing in every other way. He doesn’t have to read my books.”
I was surprised when across the table, this co-host sighed with relief. “Me, too. I don’t like reading fiction. I prefer non-fiction.”
“And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
By the end of the show, this co-host asked for an autographed copy of my latest book, Three Days to Forever and promised to read it. We’ll see. If he doesn’t, that’s okay.
I wasn’t always so laid back. Ironically, during my career of writing books where the primary goal was to kill people off, I have learned some things about life.
In a nutshell, everyone is different.
Every writer writes differently. I love mysteries and while I may have some romance in my books, don’t ask me to write a graphic love scene.
Each reader reads different things into every book. Therefore, as a mystery writer, there is no way possible to write a book that’s going to please every single reviewer and reader. Nor, is it possible to not offend someone reading something between the lines—even if that “message” was not put there intentionally.
The plotline for Three Days to Forever was inspired by numerous sources—mostly a series of news events involving terrorism and disagreement in our country about how to handle the rise of Islam and the spread of terrorism—even the debate of “Is it really an issue? Is our country really safe?”
Among the “What if’s…” I asked myself as a writer was, “What if traitors to our country, supporting Islamic terrorist groups, managed to achieve positions high up in our government—even to the point of being a trusted advisor to our president. Thus, one element of the plot in Three Days to Forever involves fictional characters in the fictional president’s administration.
Since I don’t live under a rock, being aware of the political divide in our country, I issued Three Days to Forever with a “disclaimer” reminding readers that this book is a work of fiction. “It is not the author's commentary on politics, the media, the military, or Islam. While actual current events have inspired this adventure in mystery and suspense, this fictional work is not meant to point an accusatory finger at anyone in our nation's government.”
In spite of the warning, I was not surprised when a few readers took Three Days to Forever to be exactly that—an attack on our current real-life President and a political message. One reader pointed to my author note saying, “tells me that deep down she probably knows better.”
Most readers took the author note as just that—a reminder that Three Days to Forever is fiction and not meant to be a political commentary.
In response to the controversy, as I did at the radio station with the host who said he didn’t like to read fiction, I shrug my shoulders and say, “That’s okay.”
These readers who read unintended messages between the lines and cast judgment on the supposed deliverer of that message have just as much right to their opinion and preferences and beliefs as I have to write a thriller involving domestic terrorism.
The last I looked, we still have the right to freedom is expression here in America … or am I wrong about that?
During the course of my writing and authorship, in speaking and corresponding with readers, reviewers, and writers from diverse backgrounds, I have learned that every single person has different likes, dislikes, beliefs in sex, politics, religions, and worldviews.
No two people are identical—even identical twins. Twins may dress and talk and walk the same—but one may like vanilla ice cream and the other may prefer rocky road. Who’s right? The one who likes rocky road or the one who loves vanilla? They are both right. It is a matter of preference—and no one preference is right or wrong. They are simply different and no amount of insulting or name calling is going to convert either one.
Studies have proven that when it comes to siblings, each child is born into a different family. Think about it. The first-born is born as an only child. The second child is born into an established family. The last child may be born into a big family. In each case, the circumstances—family dynamics—are different. Therefore, each comes away with different experiences and impressions of those experiences. How many of us know of siblings in which one remembers their childhood as something from Nightmare on Elm Street, while one or more saw their siblings saw their family as role models for The Waltons?
Is it really any wonder that authors, reviewers, or readers don’t see the same book in the same manner? Are those who read “messages” between the lines that I did not intend wrong or stupid or judgmental? Who’s right? Who’s wrong?
Not me, I simply intended to write a thrilling mystery filled with suspense. But, as a human being and author, I respect those readers whose strong beliefs differ from mine. I only ask that they reciprocate with their respect.
After all, how else can billions of people, each one different in their own way, supposed to get along if we don’t respect each one’s differences?
So, when it comes to people, whether they be readers or reviewers or fellow human beings stuck on this same planet with me—or even my most devoted fan who still won’t read my murder mysteries—who disagree or dislike my books or what they perceive to be my worldview, I say, with a shrug of my shoulders, “That’s okay.”
That’s what writing about murder has taught me about life.
|Lauren & Gnarly|
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries. Her upcoming new series, The Thorny Rose Mysteries will be released Spring/Summer 2015.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
Contact Lauren or visit her website and blogs at:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Acorn Books
- Lauren Carr Blog
- Literary Wealth Blog
- Gnarly on Facebook
- Lovers in Crime on Facebook