There are many great crime story authors, whether they write true-life such as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled detective novels, Dame Agatha Christie, known for her detective mystery books featuring Miss Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot and considered by many to be one of the best mystery writers ever; Patricia Cromwell and her series featuring medical examiner, Dr. Kay Scarpetta; Sir Canon Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes detective novels, Patricia High, best known for her five books featuring the psychopath, Tom Ripley – the list goes on.
All these authors and many other writers of detective, mystery, crime, and police procedurals know how to tell a great story. Their motivation for writing in these genres may be as simple as a fascination with human nature and crime, whether they base their writing on real-life experiences in a past career such as Joseph Wambaugh, a former police officer, who mixed writing crime novels with stories of true crimes.
Why do I write novels that focus on crime and the sordid side of human nature? When a brother died under suspicious circumstances, I became obsessed with learning who was either directly involved or complicit in his death. I spent months reading reports and combing through trial transcripts, discovering sloppy investigative work, speaking with police and private investigators, and people threatened by people Stephen knew. In the process, I encountered a genuine evil in people that I’d only seen in books and movies. When you come face-to-face with the heart of darkness, it sears your soul.
The crimes fascinated and repelled me, putting in place ideas for at least three novels. I also learned that law enforcement is still hesitant to accept more women committing ruthless, horrifying crimes. Personally, I’ve seen women who are master manipulators get away with law-breaking, even when their crimes weren’t committed with much finesse. Part of that may be differences between genders – women seem to be much better at keeping quiet about their misdeeds, instead of boasting and bragging as their male counterparts often do. Time and again I’ve read of men being apprehended because they had to tell someone of their exploits. There are exceptions to both, of course, but in a large part that’s what fuels my attraction to crime and its aftermath.
As a writer, what is your motivation for writing in a genre, be it crime, mystery or any other? Do you write in other genres as well?