Have you ever done crime? I mean, of course, have you ever written about crime? Would you like to write about crime? Why would you write about crime?
I can’t answer those questions for myself, let alone for you. Fortunately, I don’t have to, because fellow Crooked Cat author, Val Penny is here to share some of her experience and answer those difficult questions.
Take it away, Val!
Reasons to Write a Crime Novel
People like crime, at least in novels! Often, I meet dentists and bank managers with clever plot ideas, or nurses who read every crime novel they can lay their hands on. If I visit a writing group, there are always members keenly producing new murderous plots. Lawyers and convicts show equal enthusiasm for this genre. For those who want to write a crime novel, there are several reasons to want to do so. Here are a few of them.
Often, those who write crime novels find an emotional release in their craft. Crime novelists deal with the dark things that people usually push to the side of their minds in order to get on with every day life. The cathartic attraction of writing can be decisive.
Some crime authors tell of poor sleep patterns, punctured by nightmares that are repaired when they start to write. Others panic, constantly scanning doorways for signs of danger. The stiffening fear that afflicts them resolves when they are busy writing crime.
The Story-Telling Urge
The sources for crime novels are many and varied. Ideas can spring from the news and current affairs; memories from the past and historical events or things that puzzle or fascinate the writer. Once an author begins to exercise their creative muscles, they often find that they run into stories demanding to be told. The stories demand to be told and will not stop coming.
It is often said that writers can be difficult people: gloomy, competitive and quarrelsome. However, for the most part, I have found crime writers to be an inclusive and convivial bunch. They are certainly hard-working. The pressure of producing a book a year is intense, yet they never seem to turn their backs on fun. If you have a chance to go to a crime-writers’ convention, do take it. They are exhausting, exhilarating and irresistible.
An Outlet for Aggression
Most crime-writers will tell you that they are good company because they channel all their belligerent thoughts into their stories, so in real life, the authors are meek and mild. It is not always true, but I can confirm that a crime novel is an excellent place to park your rage! The prospect of giving vent to righteous anger in a safe form can be a particularly pleasing device. When characters require to act in a violent way or commit violence the reader is willing to witness this on the page but they would shy from it in real life. Crime writers can let rip on the page in a way they avoid doing in the real world.
The Thrill of Research
I can personally confirm that the research you do for crime novels and for academic purposes are equally satisfying. It is also extremely diverse. It may involve visiting prisons, refuges, police stations or drug dens. Police are often very willing to be of assistance to crime writers, even if it is just to avoid being irritated when otherwise the writers would get police procedures wrong. This information is most useful and helpful. Indeed, when you are writing a novel, no information or experience is wasted!
Thank you for that, Val.
Val Penny’s debut novel, Hunter’s Chase, was published just last week. Here’s the blurb:
Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.
DI Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city and he needs to find the source but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taut crime thriller.