Relaxing with Murder and Mayhem

Why are we fascinated with fictional murder yet feel uneasy with actual murder and violence on the news? And why is some kind of death a significant part of almost every bestseller on the market today?

My son has asked me why I enjoy murder mysteries when I am totally non-violent person who has never come close to considering murder or even assault. Well, I came close to imagining doing it, but that is a long way from the reality of offing someone.

I’ve asked other authors and readers why they seem like perfectly normal, civilized people, yet relish a good murder or several, as in the case of Midsomer Murders. We each have our own criteria for what is interesting to read or watch and what makes us move on to the next book or film. We also have our own unique motives that provide us with an acceptable reason to kill someone. I ask myself… what would it take for me to kill someone? Still searching for that answer, but ideas pop up from time to time.

There is a fundamental difference between men’s and women’s reading preferences. Not all women, but it is true that cozy mysteries appeal to a wide range of women looking for a bit of intrigue and a dead body that didn’t get shot by a cop or tortured endlessly or end up being a Russian spy. By and large, the murders in a cozy are committed by seemingly normal people under some kind of duress or influenced by fear, greed, or jealousy. In some ways, it seems scarier than having a violent psychopath committing multiple murders. They catch you by surprise, but they are usually more understandable based on our concept of normal human motives. And there's nothing like a cozy mystery to relax with before bed, right?

I like mysteries because I love puzzles. The clues accumulate, the hints are questionable and someone in the cast of characters had to have done it. Colonel Mustard in the dining room with poison perhaps?

Murder or being murdered is the ultimate price. Death is so final. Not like jail, divorce, or losing all your inheritance. There is no coming back unless you believe in reincarnation. There is no excuse that is normally accepted, even though there is self-defense. And even that can be hard to defend. Look at all the abused women who end up in jail.

So when it came to writing my own mystery, I struggled to create an antagonist. I wanted to have an understandable motive, yet not be too cozy or accidental. And the character needed to be three-dimensional, with a past or motives that twisted their understanding of life and death.
If you’ve read my first novel, On the Cusp, I’d love to hear your opinion of what you thought of my villains.

So, here are my questions:

    1. What kind of mysteries appeal to you and why? Do you love thrillers, military tales, horror,  or cozies?
    2. How would you describe the antagonists you love to hate?
    3. If you were to create your own murder, how would you do it?

    1. Do you have in mind an antagonist when you start your story?
    2. What are the motivations that he/she uses to justify killing?
    3. How do you go about creating complete characters that commit murder yet have redeemable qualities that will intrigue your reader?

To participate in the discussion, visit my Facebook page @GettingTraction and share your thoughts.

Keep Blooming,