Monday, January 20, 2014

Writing Dark Subject Matter and Why I Do It

 I’ve written about strangulation (Ties that Bind), slit necks (Justified), drown victims (Sacrifice), men being eaten by dogs (Assassination of a Dignitary), torture and mutilation (Eleven), and now rape in Silent Graves. I’m even certain I’m missing some. Why do I write such dark subject matter?

In simple response, these things scare me. If I write about what I fear then this is going to come across on the page. This built-in emotional connection will pass onto my readers and elicit a visceral response.

Let’s face it if you’re a fan of the crime genre, you want to be taken to the edge. Not only do you want to have the intrigue of trying to figure out ‘who done it’, you want to experience something while you’re reading. Just as fans of romance want to feel the emotion of the characters’ love, of the trials they have to overcome to be together, crime fans want to be thrilled.

I love finding justice for the victims, but I also have a need to understand why killers act the way they do. I must have a need to assign logic to a situation that doesn’t seem to carry any. With writing in the crime genre, I need to empathize even with the antagonist and his/her course of action.

Some say this can be a way of dealing with anger management. Maybe? All I know is that as long as there is a mystery solve, I’ll be there, even if it takes me into the darkness.  I invite my readers along for the ride.