I remember vividly several years ago, before my first mystery novel was published, having lunch with a couple of coworkers. The subject turned to reading and we started talking about our favorite books and authors. But before I had a chance to speak up, one of my coworkers said, “I already know what kind of books Angie likes. She's into murder and death.” That really shocked and bothered me. Everyone knew I loved mysteries. But did that mean I was into death? What was it about murder mysteries that I loved so much? And what did my love of the genre say about me as a person? It didn't take long for me to realize that my coworker had completely missed the point.
The act of murder in and of itself is not what fascinates me about mysteries. In fact, I tend to shy away from graphic descriptions of violence and death. No, what fascinates me about mysteries are the lives of the people behind such an extreme act. What causes people to kill? What was the motive? Was it an accident? Was it plotted and planned for? Was it a crime of passion? These are the questions that fascinate me. I guess you could call me a back-story junkie...or maybe I'm just nosy The reason why one of my favorite shows is Law & Order: Criminal Intent is because it explores the reasons why, the victims, and the perpetrators. The act of murder itself plays a very small part of the plot. Then there are the clues, puzzle pieces left behind by the murderer. Where do they lead? What did the killer do to cover their tracks? And most importantly of all, will they get away with it.
During that long ago lunchtime conversation I remember being at loss for words and laughing off my coworker’s comments. But had the conversation taken place today I’d have told her. “No, honey, I’m not into death and murder. I’m into life.”