JAN: There are a lot of scary things about Amy Bishop, the Harvard-educated neurobiologist who opened fire at the University of Alabama and killed three of her colleagues.
The first, of course, is her motive. Innocent people died because this woman didn't get her tenure.
Second, is that she "accidentally" shot her brother in her home in Braintree when she was 21-years old, and was let off after the most cursory of investigations.
But what I find personally frightening? ? She was an aspiring writer (a second cousin of John Irving it turns out), who once belonged to a writers group, and that three of her unpublished novels, all thrillers, sound sort of interesting.
As crime writers we answer a lot of questions about "where we get our ideas." We go to seminars on blood spatter and DNA testing. I've been to the shooting range so I could get the feel of a gun. Often, we often make frequent jokes all the people we "kill off."
But it wasn't so imaginary for Amy. Has anyone else thought about this: And will it cross your mind the next time you're asked how you choose your story lines or whether you'd consider allowing your protagonist to shoot a gun?
HANK: I've thought about it a lot. And it just shows you how fragile everything is. And how law enforcement can--apparently--make some huge mistakes. (No further comment here..) Will it change how I think? About people and motives and fear and, um, cover ups--maybe. Sure. About how people can conflate reality and fiction? Perhaps. Although--that's kind of classic. Whether a main character can use a gun? No.
HALLIE: True crime is just awful awful awful. Real victims. Real hatred and malice. Our books don't come close to telling it like it can be.
JAN: Actually in the Guardian, crime writer David Peace, author of the Red Riding quartet, said he thinks we should all turn to non-fiction because there is no reason to make up crime. There's so much real stuff.
I agree Hallie, our books don't come close to telling it like it is. But I think that may come as a welcome relief to our readers.
So has anyone else out there been wondering what Amy Bishop might have been like in a writers group? ( Especially after someone criticized her chapter?)