Thursday, February 3, 2022

Killing Your Darlings

 RHYS BOWEN

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big softie. I can’t watch horror movies. I can’t read really noir novels. Take someone down in the cellar and I close the book. I even hate killing spiders (of which I’m mortally afraid). Instead I try to put a glass over it, slide a sheet of paper between us and carry it outside. I once did this with a brown recluse (I only found out what it was later).  So I hate killing things. 

This applies to my books. Sometimes I have a victim who is so obnoxious that I am quite happy to bump them off. But more frequently I am sorry they have to die. When I was writing young adult novels, back in the time of stone tablets, I had to write a mini-series in which each book had a different telling of the life of a high school boy who ends up killing himself. During those four books I grew very fond of him and I didn’t want him to die. I put off those last chapters until the publisher was yelling at me.

I’m going through the same thing now. I’m in the throes of a new stand-alone, part of which involves a woman parachuted into Nazi-occupied France during WWII. I know bad things have to happen. The life expectancy of a female operative undercover in France was three months. I have read all the personal accounts and biographies of the female spies and I know what awful things Nazis did to captured women. Some of them I can’t get out of my head. But I can’t bring myself to write the worst of them.  I simply can’t make my character suffer that much. And yet a brave rescue wouldn’t be realistic. She’s got to survive, but to survive a great cost and with a passionate hatred for her captor.

And so I am hesitating, procrastinating. Also I am aware of my fan-base. They like my books because they can handle my stories. So I can’t shock them too much. Any torture will have to be off-page or more psychological than physical. I simply can’t pull out her fingernails one by one.  I once got a piece of wood under one fingernail. I tiny sliver of wood. It was excruciating. So I can’t do that.  I’ll get her through it somehow but I don’t want to have to write that scene.

I’m curious, Reds, do you have problems inflicting pain, writing violence, killing someone on the page? Maybe I should have stuck to children’s books. “There was once a happy little duckling who lived in the farmyard pond….  Until the fox came one night and… Oh right

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I deeply dislike violence  p@rn - books with lavish descriptions of terrible things that enable readers to say, “Oh, how dreadful” while also being titillated. So when violence happens in my novels, I use misdirection and suggestion, which, really, I think is more effective than gruesome details. Thinking of pulling out fingernails: in one book the medical examiner is looking at a body found in situ, dead after being tortured for information. I didn’t say anything about the body’s appearance, but the reaction of the cops on the scene tell the reader it’s distressing and totally out of the norm. The M.E. picks up the victim’s hand and says, “After the second finger, he would have told them anything they wanted.”

That’s it. I think it makes the reader shudder in horror and sympathy, without ever resorting to a description of the violence or it’s effects. 

Jenn McKinlay: Rhys, I adore your posts. Ducklings..fox. LOL! 

Well, I think we all know that I’m no good at torture and grisly killings as I’m always looking for the joke and it’s hard to find the humor when someone’s head gets lopped off or their private bits are being electrocuted in a torture scene. 

I try to craft victims that I can’t abide (I have a running list of potential victims based on real people who severely annoy me – don’t judge, it’s therapy), and hopefully the reader can’t stand them either, so that when they do die it’s not terribly surprising or sad but justice is still served and the murderer is caught at the end. I can admit it. I like things tidy, even my murders.

HALLIE EPHRON: I’m with you, Rhys, on eschewing pain and violence. But I don’t write about female operatives parachuting into Nazi territory, either. It’s easier to avoid in domestic suspense, since the angst is usually mental. In real life I save spiders, too. And right now I’m torn over a mouse (or two) that I think is visiting my kitchen nightly. Trap or kill? Huge ick factor. 

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I don’t like killing people in the first place, which I know is odd for a murder mystery author. That’s why I go for violence of the mind—how much people can hurt and mislead each other emotionally and psychologically. Selfishness and manipulation and gaslighting. Jeffery Deaver once had a scene where a truly bad guy plugged in an iron. And that was the end of the chapter. We never saw anything specific that happened after that about the iron, we just had to imagine. Which I did. And still do. 

And yes, I’d rather have it be in the reaction.   And the only thing I can kill with only a brief regret is a clothes moth.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm with you, Rhys! I am such a softie. I hate for bad things to happen to people (or animals) in books or movies. But if nothing bad happens, you don't have much of a plot for a murder mystery, and I think if you only kill off unlikeable characters, your readers will not be very invested in the outcome.  So I have made myself do in characters that I absolutely loved, and have probably needed therapy–or at least a restorative retreat– afterwards.  A former editor once told me that I was "too nice to be a mystery writer." Probably true.

LUCY BURDETTE: You are awfully nice Debs! I too can’t take a lot of violence, and certainly no torture. Luckily, writing cozies, I’m off the hook for that. Someone does have to die–it’s expected–but I don’t have to show it in my pages. If I should forget and happen to shade into something a bit too graphic, my editor nudges me back on track. I try very hard to work on finding a reasonable motive, and have the bad guy not be too much of a cardboard character. It feels important to take something as intense and extreme as killing another person very seriously.

RHYS: You see--we're a bunch of softies. I knew it. But since we've all chosen to write mysteries then occasionally bad things have to happen.  How about you, dear readers? Can you handle on page violence? Or do you prefer anything awful to take place off screen?

73 comments:

  1. I'm a "splasher" when it comes to my mystery reading. I read noir, I read cozies, I read everything in between. I can have a high tolerance for violence; however, I do not care for violence when the author seems to be enjoying it too much. Three buckets of gore when a pint would do. And I well remember one book in which every kick, every punch, every spin, every toss, in a fight scene was lovingly described by its technical name. I really wanted to be Indiana Jones then so I could whip out my pistol and and put a stop to that endless scene!

    I do have a high tolerance for violence, but I don't read much of it. A little dab'll do me. What I really like is when an author sets the stage and then lets my imagination supply the details. I think most mystery readers have good imaginations and more authors should make use of that fact.

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    1. Good point Cathy--3 buckets of gore when a pint would do LOL

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  2. Softie here . . . set the stage and let me imagine; let the gory violence take place off stage.

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  3. I prefer violence to be off the stage.

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  4. RHYS: I am glad that you (and the Reds) are softies in real life.
    For cozies, I do not want to see the violence on the page.

    But when I read dark thrillers, or WWII espionage novels, I am ok with horrible scenes on the page. The story would not seem authentic without it (for me), so I see your dilemna with your female undercover op.

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  5. I have read books where I felt the violence was an important part of the story (mostly historicals with a point to make); but when I read mysteries, I usually prefer Sherlock Holmes, cozies, and puzzle-mysteries in general, and when I write, it's either children's books or cozies. So, a softie.

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    1. It's hard to be accurate in some historical novels without showing a certain amount of violence, when we know that prisoners were tortured, people were burned at the stake.

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  6. I am right with all of you. I had to walk out of a movie some years ago (a well-done, well-received film) involving the Irish Republican Army when a man's fingernails were being pulled out.

    I don't want to read violence and I don't want to write it. I did have a few babies die in my Quaker Midwife mysteries, but it was through the medical circumstances of the era, not from violence

    Hank, the scene ending with the bad guy plugging in the iron is scary enough. Rhys, best of luck with the bad things your agent will have to endure!

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  7. When people ask me what I like to read, I generally say books that have "blood, bodies and bullets". I like mysteries and I like thrillers. So I'm good with violence on the page. But it isn't required or anything.

    I mean, I like reading cozy mysteries where the murder is almost always "off-screen" and the only real violence comes at the end when the usually amateur sleuth is attacked by the now revealed killer in a dramatic climax to said mystery.

    But then I like to see (read) Mitch Rapp, Jack Reacher, Spenser & Hawk, Ellery Hathaway and Atlee Pine beat the ever-lovin' snot out of the bad guys and send them to their mortal just desserts as well when called upon to do so.

    I've never had a problem with seeing violence and despite what studies to the contrary say, I've yet to add any more bodies to my body count tally myself.

    I've never been much of a fan of horror movies though beyond when I was in my early teens and you had Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday The 13th churning out installments. And horror these days is basically torture porn anyway so I don't have an interest in that.

    For me, it all comes down to how well the story is told. A badly written story cannot really be saved by violence on the page but I don't turn up my nose when the good guy has to lay some serious smackdown on the bad guys either.

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    1. That's a key point Jay--if a story is well told, an author can do almost anything...

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    2. So true, Jay. A well-written scene gives just the right feel for violence without having to spell it out.

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  8. Softie here, with enough imagination to last a reading lifetime, thank you. You set the stage and my mind will fill in the rest. And sometimes that is too much for me.

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  9. I think it has to do with intention, as Julia said. I understand your quandary,Rhys, do you serve historical accuracy, or yield to the expectations of your readers? In historicals, I vote for 'delicate' accuracy. I don't think a child should know exactly where Edward II hot poker was placed in his body. For me I would like that scene to appear off stage.
    Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) is an interesting example. His 87th precinct series started as gritty procedurals. The crimes became increasingly violent (women being skinned alive) until I could not bear to read him. I wonder now,if his writing reflected his editors demands, or a mind that was darkening. The most skilled authors, like y'all, carefully give us the story by showing awareness of both your audience and the tale.

    I don't need to be with a protagonist while they endure physical torture. I can be with them with psychological torture which can last longer. Bodies break, mend, or die. Minds stay broken.. or not. Their consciousness remains with the reader; perhaps our consciousness lasts forever.

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    1. Coralee, I thought the same thing about Patricia Cornwell--what on earth happened to her, that she went so far down a dark spiral. I really used to love her books.

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    2. Well said, both of you. There are authors I once enjoyed whose books I no longer read for that reason.

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    3. CORALEE: I probably read more than 40 of the Ed McBain 87th Precinct novels, which he started writing in the 1950s, and liked them. Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer books were also popular then. I think McBain and Spillane were a product of their time and are pretty distasteful to read now. But I liked the 87th Precinct's ensemble cast of detectives, and to me, those books were a precursor to TV shows like Hill Street Blues that I also enjoyed watching in the 1980s.

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    4. Completely agree with you re the books reflecting their era. I think this is why historians love reading pop culture books from other times.

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    5. I remember loving the 87th Precinct books!

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  10. Debs, your comment about "doing in" a victim made me think of Liza Doolittle at the races talking about "Them what done her in".

    I used to read thrillers, way back to Sidney Sheldon, but then something changed, and the "fem jeop" era was born. I called it the "woman in the box/buried alive" syndrome. Women authors who employed this particular type of torture porn, in particular, infuriated me, and I quit reading some very prolific writers altogether because of it. As a mother of three daughters, I couldn't bear to read about potential terror.

    The pandemic, and maybe the current political climate, have made my revulsion even more pronounced. I can't stand seeing really violent scenes any more, and I have to leave the room when they occur on TV shows or movies. I know it's not "real", but why does such violence need to be depicted graphically, anyway? I think it's lazy writing, frankly. And it horrifies me to think future murderers are being given such ideas. If I dreamed up such a situation that was later emulated I could never go on, my conscience would torture me so.

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    1. KAREN: I'm glad that I don't have cable TV or many streaming services to watch the current crop of violent TV shows. But I remember watching one TV show for many years: Criminal Minds. Is that stlll on the air? The whole premise of that show was an elite group of FBI profilers at the BAU were sent across the US to catch the worst serial killers. Who knew there were so many gruesome, crazy ways to torment and kill victims?

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    2. Grace, I don't think it is still on, but I have not watched network or cable TV in 12 years, so don't rely on me! I remember watching it, though, and it also turned me off with the gruesome stories.

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    3. Karen in Ohio,

      This reminds me of what an author friend said. She refuses to read "dark" novels, especially where children are maimed or killed.

      Diana

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    4. Criminal Minds finished its run in February of 2020, but it can still be seen in reruns. I wasn't a fan from the beginning of the show, but once I started watching it, I loved it. Of course, a lot of that love had to do with my interest in the recurring main characters and their stories. And, the show could indeed get gruesome, which did cause me some consternation. It's really the only show with violence that I've been such a fan of.

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  11. I wouldn't say I'm a softy--but I have a vivid imagination and once 'seen,' I can't unsee images--whether I see them with my eyes or in my mind's eye as I read. There are books I started to read which I couldn't finish, but the images still haunt me. So, no to graphic violence on the page. It's one reason I don't tend to read anything with a serial killer on the shelf--the killer delights in the killing--I don't want to see or be in that 'mind'.

    But violence happens. Has happened. Especially in a historical context, it's likely that I'm already familiar with the extent of violence which occurred--I trust an author with the details. Helen MacInnes wrote a torture scene in Assignment in Brittany--set in WWII in occupied France. What she gives the reader is the protagonist's thoughts--and details of his physical and mental condition as those forward the action of the scenes. I don't see anyone here indulging in violence for the sake of shocking or titillating the reader--the sensitivity with which you all approach that aspect of your genre is a big reason I keep coming back for more!

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  12. As a softie myself, it is not surprising that I appreciate the softies Reds books.
    It seems that as I grow older, I can take less and less violence ( physical or psychological ) .
    I don’t buy books when I know they will contain graphic violence or violence against children or women but, while reading, if I’m surprise by incoming disgraceful scenes , I skip them. I don’t want ugly images in my head.

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    1. So true, Danielle. When I was young I could take very dark violent subjects. As I grew older I found them more and more distressing.

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  13. Fascinating project!

    A scene from a WW2 movie haunts me: a lovely young French-speaking woman parachutes into France and sends frequent radio broadcasts to London while playing cat and mouse with the Nazis. She's caught, tortured, and eventually the German officer tells her to kneel on the ground. We know what's coming.

    Jacqueline Winspear wrote about the Nazi occupation and an elderly woman harboring Resistance fighters in her stately home. It wasn't as gruesome.

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    1. Margaret,

      Jacqueline Winspear writes the Maisie Dobbs series.

      Diana

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    2. Right. I've just read through all the Maisie Dobbs books and I don't remember that one, Margaret. Can you refresh my memory?

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    3. Maisie finds her friend Priss's granddaughter and learns about the bravery of Priss's multi-lingual son. In France.

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  14. I wrote a few books with a co-author and we would pull in opposite directions when it came to writing sex and violence. Fortunately I was the only actually pounding the keyboard so my will prevailed. Readers are the same. Some want to see it piled on, others: offstage right.

    I remember reading Sophie's Choice ages ago... and seeing the movie. I'd find it too excruciating to read or sit through now. And I wonder if I'd walk out of the theatre humming "Life is a Cabaret..." after seeing Cabaret, as I once did. Not sure if it's about getting older or changing times.

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    1. I have to say, Sophie's Choice nearly did me in when it was in theaters. It changed my way of determining what movies to see -- I don't ever want to come out of a movie theater that devastated again. So while I might respect a movie and know that it is high art, I will not go if it looks that disturbing.

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    2. I still find it hard to think about Sophie's choice.

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    3. Hallie, I commented below and almost said the same thing: is my aversion to violence something that has grown as I’ve gotten older? Does empathy get stronger with age?

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  15. And a half-dozen friends have recommended the new public TV's ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL specifically because it's so benign.

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    1. Hallie,

      I loved the books by James Herriot. And we are hooked on public TV's ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL. Did you know that the actress Rachel Shenton, who plays Helen, was in an American series called SWITCHED AT BIRTH? It was on TV about ten years ago and she is fluent in Sign Language. Last year she and some of the actors from ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL did a series of video clips in British Sign Language. It was really awesome to see them signing!

      Diana

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    2. But not as good as the first series, I feel. They've played up the drama and suspense too much. James and Helen trapped in a snowstorm etc--not in the books.

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    3. Diana, did you know that Rachel Shelton's father is deaf, and that she won an Oscar for a short film called The Silent Child, about a young deaf girl whose family won't teach her to sign. It's on YouTube.

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  16. I love that we are all softies. I guess we are in it for the justice, not for the violence. That we love to solve puzzles, and untangle twisty stories--but not so much hurt people. Which seems like a good thing.
    On TV, it's easier. You can just look away until the music changes. I do, at least.

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    1. When the music changes!!! When I first took my granddaughter to the Nutcracker at the age of 3 she disappeared under her seat every time the music went into a minor key!

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    2. That is a WONDERFUL story! Brilliant child! (so much for the Russian Dance.)

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  17. I once said no to blurbing a book because the violence in one scene was SO awful, and entirely unnecessary. If you took it out, it wouldn't have changed the story at all. I didn't want people thinking I approved of that. I actually told the editor, with much regret, and she and the author took it out! So...maybe that was a good thing.

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    1. Hank,

      An author friend who refuses to read novels with violence was asked to write a blurb for a novel with violence. She had to tell the publisher that she cannot read these kinds of novels. She refused to write a blurb.

      Diana

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    2. I was once asked to blurb a novel that started with a S&M scene in a bordello that goes wrong. Knowing my readership I declined.

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    3. Exactly! To each their own, but we don't have to endorse it. (and Rhys, so odd that they'd even ask you!)

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  18. That's why I love reading all of the Red's books. It's all about the puzzles and not about the violence. I am a complete softie and can't stand horror or violence.
    Thank you all!

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  19. It really depends on the book. I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, RAZORBLADE TEARS, which had quite a bit of violence - but it all fit the story. And none of it went over the top. Other books, it just doesn't fit. And I definitely have a threshold where I think, "Okay, that's enough" and I'll either close the book or skip ahead.

    For my own writing, I tend to keep the violence and gore off the page. In an upcoming book, my deputy coroner (who is usually a very laid-back guy) is extremely somber at a scene - and if it's bad enough to rob him of his humor, I hope the reader understands the nature of the scene.

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    1. So right, Liz. The subtle hint of stress or gravity is so powerful

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  20. Softie here. I prefer violence off the pages. I cannot abide violence on the pages. I had the experience of walking out of a movie theater when a scene in a movie was too violent for my taste. I love that all of the Reds here are softies at heart. I prefer to read a murder mystery where the violence is off the page. I like the puzzles and the psychological aspect more than the graphic violence. I noticed that I stopped reading certain authors where the victim is always the woman and I wonder if the author or the publisher hates women.

    Diana

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  21. After reading everyone's responds, I find myself leaning toward the softie side of things. I have never been comfortable watching scenes with snake or other large reptiles and now I just flip to a different channel until the reptile is gone. I skim over written gory scenes in books, though I tolerated them when I was younger. Just don't need those scenes in my head and then jumping up in the middle of the night, which always seems to happen though not immediately. Those scenes seem to pop up days after I have read them.

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    1. I don't mind snakes, and I love nature programs, but when the lions hunt down the zebra foal... I turn off.

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  22. Please no graphic violence. Let happen somewhere off the page so I don't have to see it. A little bit I can take; I just skip over it, but please no page of grisly details. I had to give up on a popular female author because she wanted to tell us horrible things in great detail, things I didn't need to read about. That was too bad because otherwise her stories were very good. I think perhaps she did it to show that violence could be anywhere, even where we least expected it.

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  23. Intriguing topic. If the violence fits the story, and it's not over the top, then I'm fine with it, but it tends to haunt me. Harm an animal or a child - there's a good chance you've lost a reader.

    In my own writing, I keep the gory details off the page, but use reactions to portray them.

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  24. I'm laughing at Hank's tenderness toward all things... except the clothes moth. Hank, I feel the same way about the damn pantry moths. Die, die, die!

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  25. I can’t stand violence at all, which I know is odd for a mystery reader. The violence definitely must be off the page. If I’m reading something and come across a graphic description of violence, I skip over it. Something bad happened. I get it. I have stopped reading books by authors whose books seem to have more violence than actual story. There was an author I stopped reading years ago when I realized that all his characters, ALL of them, loved killing, and killed people just for the sake of killing them. And of course he had to include graphic descriptions.

    I love psychological thrillers that don’t involve any dead bodies at all. They’re more suspenseful than most violent novels.

    But I have no trouble killing spiders! When I was a child I had a bad allergic reaction to spider bites and have been terrified of spiders ever since.


    DebRo

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  26. I recently slammed a book shut on page five when the psychopath introduced on page one became the POV. Bestselling author, but do I need that voice in my head? The inference of cruelty is enough for me as a writer and a reader of fiction. The violence and cruelty in the real world is more than enough. And, yes, spider rescue here too!

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    1. Same! I never enjoy being in the bad guy's head. Yeesh.

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    2. I think it works if we switch to the bad guy just long enough to let us see what he plans. Mary Higgins Clark did this well

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  27. I'm quite a softie too, and usually avoid books with anything graphic. That said, I have enjoyed the books of Kate Quinn immensely, even though they portray some horrors that have really disturbed me. It is because they are exactly the situation you describe today, Rhys -- they are set in wartime and I know they are absolutely based in the truth. And the stories of the characters couldn't be told without them. I am confident you will find the right balance so that the stories can be told, but with the minimum level of graphic violence possible.

    BTW, Rhys, I have long wanted to tell you that I credit you for developing in me a taste for historical fiction. I always thought I didn't like it. Even after falling in love with Maisie Dobbs, I still told myself those books were just the exception that proved the rule. But as I have read your work, I finally had to admit to myself that I love wartime fiction, and I have now branched out to several other authors. So thank you!!

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    1. Thank you, Susan. I also like Kate's books, and Jackie's. Kates are so closely based on truth that you can't fault her for showing violence.

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  28. Hallie, rent a live trap (like a cage) and after trapping, drive the mouse far far away. Then let it out. Go through your house and block wherever it is getting in with steel wool. (Mine were getting in through an exhaust fan built into an outer wall. I taped over it with REAL duct tape for the winter. In summer, I ran it full time and they didn't use it for entry.)

    Whatever you do, DO NOT USE A GLUE TRAP. Mouse got his hind legs and tail stuck in the glue pad, and despite what it said on the package, alcohol did not dissolve the glue. To save it from a long slow death, I had to drown it. This was 35 years ago, but it sticks in my memory.

    And do not use warfarin. Mice crawl into drawers or your linen closet and bleed to death there. Or die and rot inside your walls. Or they go back out and owls or foxes eat them, and then THEY bleed to death.

    Or get a cat or a rat terrier.

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    1. Usually the old reliable snappy mouse trap is quick and effective, but sometimes they duck. Last summer I found a mouse in the trap, still alive, with its nose caught. Fortunately, I had a bucket of water nearby and finished it off, but it wasn't so quick (mice and wooden traps float, so I had to hold it down).

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  29. I think you are all mystery writers because you don't like violence and killing. The stories are about justice or redressing wrongs or sometimes the psychology of killing. The killing is just the "something happens."

    War is a tough subject to take on if you don't want to depict violence. If it is too graphic, or gratuitous, I won't read it. That holds true of non-fiction as well as fiction. As part of the backdrop, or a reaction, memory, dream, implication and the occasional wound are ok and effective enough. And never kill a dog. Psychological wounds and how they play out perhaps require the most explanation as they are often less obvious, less direct, less understood.

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  30. I'm a softy, too. I must prefer my victims vile and my violence off page or suggested. It's why I read the books I do.

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  31. The late L. R. Wright had a horrific murder scene in one of her books. It was in a cottage on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, a lovely setting. She described the scene, the bodies, smells, the blood... through the eyes of a cat that had come through a window, curious about the sounds and smells. She told me she just could not bear to have her Staff Sergeant, Karl Aarlberg work the crime scene, it would be so painful for him.

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    1. That's an interesting approach. Clever. Makes it more acceptable.

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  32. Just don’t kill the dog or the child. Other than that, it’s only a story to me. All that really matters is the quality of the writing. Sean Cosby comes to mind.

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    1. Yes, NEVER kill the dog. I won't keep reading, and I won't buy anymore of your books.

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  33. Since I've already admitted to being a fan of Criminal Minds, I have to say I must be a contradiction of my own mind. I'm terrible to watch horror movies with because I click it off when the blood and gore scene kicks in. I normally can't watch or read a scene with a prolonged, tortuous death (but, then Criminal Minds was bearable, most of the time). Torture is just too much. When the murder victim is a bad guy or gal, I can accept the death and move on. When the victim is someone, especially a child, who has his or her life cut short, I get caught up in all the things they were deprived of experiencing in life.

    Oh, and mental torture can be awful, too. I still hesitate to read any more Stephen King because of how mind twisting some of his novels were that I read. For example in his short story compilation entitled The Four Seasons, the story "The Apt Pupil" was one big nightmare.

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    1. I gave up Criminal Minds early on. Much too violent for me.

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  34. Even though I loved the Criminal Minds actors and their characters, I had to quit the series. Creepy serial killers in a few episodes of the NCIS"s or other regular series is Ok but every episode was too much.

    I do prefer cozy mysteries but read some darker authors. I've read a number of books about World War II spies, some true and some fiction, and I can't see you telling the story without showing some violence. The Nazis weren't nice people. I watched a Canadian show maybe called X-Corp about a group of Canadian spies during World War II with some Americans and French and even a good German. Almost everyone had died by the end of the series. It was a good show but very depressing at the end. I hope your book works out.

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