... what happens when the pen is the sword?
I have no insights today, only questions.
We have a common bond on this blog. We're all suspense writers of one form or another, and if you're like me, you've done research that's taken you dark places. But speaking for myself, while some of the research gave me nightmares, I've always had a clear understanding that I write fiction. I create events and people that aren't real.
While the news has been non-stop lately with horrible acts of terror and victimization, two conversations this week have resonated in unexpected ways. Two writing friends shared events that were keeping them awake at night. Men they knew, people they'd gone to lunch with, worked with, thought they knew, had snapped and lashed out. The men killed others, including their wives, and then took their own lives. In both situations, my friends were shaken—hadn't seen the potential for violence, any evidence of mental illness—and were grieving.
I write about law enforcement professionals and amateur sleuths who put themselves in harm's way to bring villains to justice. I've read your books and know your characters take similar paths. But this intrusion of real life into the fictional world has made me wonder. We complain about violent video games and their impact on the kids who play them. Are we writing novels that desensitize people to violence or murder?
What do you think? Does the experience in reading a novel evoke different emotions than the hands-on, visceral experience of a video game? Do we need to dial down the violence? Or does horror rule?