RHYS: As a writer I've never had any problem killing in wicked and devious ways. I've shot, stabbed, poisoned people. Hit them over the head with blunt objects, pushed them off cliffs and out of boats. I've even shut someone in a steam room and turned up the heat to maximum.
But for some reason when it comes to real life I have a complete aversion to killing. I don't mean people. Most of us have that aversion. I mean things that others kill without a second thought. Insects, for one thing. I am terrified of spiders but I can't kill one. I have to drop a glass over it, slip in a sheet of paper and then carry it safely to the garden. This is sometimes a stupid thing to do. When I was up in Sedona I inadvertently carried a Brown Recluse carefully out of the house with only a sheet of paper between me and eternity.
Now I know all the other Jungle Reds are fabulous gardeners. Their gardens look like show places with banks of color, appropriate to the season. Mine looks neat and tidy with no color for most of the year. Of course things are harder to grow in California with all the deer and the lack of rain, but another reason is that I can't dig things out when they need to be replaced. I simply can't kill a living plant. I've read all those articles on plants sending out distress signals to each other. Take a look at the pathetic specimen in the pot that should have been replaced ages ago. I keep hoping it will revive. It probably won't because it lives on my hot deck and I'm away so much. But I'm too soft hearted.
How about you, Reds. Do you find it easy to kill? (In real life, I mean.)
LUCY BURDETTE: You STEAMED someone to death Rhys? That's rich! I'm pretty soft-hearted but I do have my limits. One of them is the house centipede or Scutigera, as I learned it's called. I just finished Googling to find the name and learned that they feed on other insects, including bedbugs. Even so, they give me the creeps so bad that I have no trouble pounding them with whatever shoe is handy. Ditto, anything eating my indoor lime tree. I don't like to use pesticides so one summer I talked my stepson into helping me hand squash hundreds of little green aphids. By God, we won too!
HALLIE EPHRON: Ooooh, that is one creepy centipede that lurks in Roberta's pipes. It's something out of a Stephen King novel. I do carry spiders carefully out of the house. Ours are pretty harmless but fierce insect eaters and lovely web builders, and invariably we get a raft of baby spiders each spring. Charlotte I, Charlotte II...
I squash flies and clap fruit flies to death. Mash pantry moths, should they dare to appear, to a black paste. Boil live lobsters and clams.
You can't kill a PLANT, Rhys? What do you eat??? Our garden would be a jungle in about ten minutes if I didn't weed and transplant. Meanwhile, our compost heap is busy turning all that lovely plant matter into lovely rich soil.
In my books, people die but I rarely kill them off.
RHYS: Okay, Hallie, I know I'm a hypocrite. I know someone else harvests everything I eat. Just as I know someone else kills the adorable little lambs for the chops I love so much. But the plant looks at me and I decide to give it another chance.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: One little word. Earwigs. Oh, my gosh, I hate them. Let me just say first that when an ant comes into the house, I scoot it onto a piece of cardboard and carry it outside. (Parenthetically, I always think about the ant lore that could come out of that--as the ant tells the story of how he was swooped up on a big white magic carpet, and carried through the air by a giant..well, anyway.)
Those pantry moths? I delightedly crush into powder. (What're they made of, anyway? Nothing?) Moths? Inside? Sorry, hate 'em and will mercilessly kill. Spiders, I ignore and hope they go away.
But earwigs? I am homicidal. They get into my gorgeous dahlias and then creep out when you bring the flowers inside. It's horrible, but the only way to kill them is to drown them in soapy water, and then throw them into the spinning garbage disposal. Hey. They shouldn't have gotten into my flowers.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: First the axilotyl, then the scutigera. Lucy is helping me make up for all of those bio classes I cut in high school!
I have a hard time tossing plants on the compost pile. I always think I can save them. Shrubs and understory trees I inherited from the previous owner sometimes have to go. But I've lived in my house for 20 years so I'm taking my time. I've got two sick trees which i've been trying to nurse back to health all year.
Interestingly enough, I've taken a break from killing people in my novels, but slugs? I used to be squeamish about them but now - SQUISH! And I go outside after it rains to look for them. Is that weird?
JAN BROGAN: Like Ro, I've taken a break from killing people in novels. Or at least murdering them. But after having a beam of a porch destroyed by carpenter ants, I squish the first one I see each spring and immediately have the house treated. I figure if I actually hire someone to do the killing, I'm still killing.
I also used to save spiders, until I heard an NPR story about someone who got bit in her bedroom by a "brown spider" and spent a lifetime with MS-like symptoms. Since I don't know what a brown spider is, I kill all spiders except Daddy Long Legs, which I kindly eject.
And those pantry moths - I don't know what they are made of Hank - but I hate them. I see one and I got on a serial killing spree, opening every cabinet and wapping everything in sight.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: One word. COCKROACHES!!!! I HATE them. Will smash them with anything and enjoy the crunchy splat. Lucy, you must have them in Florida? Not even Wall-E softened my heart towards roaches. Mosquitos, if I'm faster than they are. Spiders I admit I will kill in the house, because they bite me, and I had a friend die from a brown recluse bite years ago.
Outside, we don't kill anything. Totally organic garden for seventeen years. One year, we had an orb spider spin a web on our front porch window. We left it all summer and into the fall, even though our house looked like a haunted house. The web was so beautiful, and the spider so fascinating to watch.
We have loads of birds, bees, butterflies, moths, and quite a few frogs and toads, of which I am very proud, as they are so threatened in today's environment.
RHYS: So do tell, dear readers, can you kill without a second thought?
JUNGLE REDS HEAD TO CLEVELAND TO ATTEND BOUCHERCON THE WORLD MYSTERY CONVENTION. STAY TUNED FROM ON THE SPOT REPORTS.
AND COMING THIS WEEK ON JUNGLE REDS:
Tuesday: I wish I'd written that.
Wednesday: An interview with Aunt Agatha's bookstore on their 20th anniversary
Thursday: Thoughts on Halloween, costume parties and celebrating the birth of my new e-story called MASKED BALL AT BROXLEY MANOR.
Friday: Do you believe in love at first sight?
ALSO ON FRIDAY THE FAMOUS JUNGLE REDS PANEL AT BOUCHERCON--ACTUALLY IT'S OUR VERSION OF FAMILY FEUD. IF YOU'RE ATTENDING BOUCHERCON DON'T YOU DARE MISS IT!
Saturday will be our report from the convention
and Sunday our beloved Kaye Barley makes her monthly appearance.