Why I wrote: Blessed are the Dead

This is part I of a three-part series on why I wrote my debut mystery, Blessed are the Dead.

I’m one of those cliché writers who have wanted to write a book since I was 10. Sometimes you are just lucky enough to find your passion at a young age. However, I was distracted from that passion, for, oh, about 30 years. That’s because I had to get a “real job.” I found one that combined my love of writing with a steady paycheck – journalism.

For about 15 years of my life, my passion was journalism, specifically crime reporting for newspapers. When I wasn’t writing about crime for the newspaper, I was at home reading the people who have done it best: Tom Wolfe (The New Journalism), Truman Capote, and Edna Buchanan, (Pulitzer-prize winning former Miami Herald police reporter).

Then I had kids. A reporter friend of mine told me that I was the kind of person who put so much passion into what I did, she could see I had to give up reporting when I became a mother.

She was right.

But it was also the juxtaposition of covering the seedy side of life and then coming home to pure innocence in the form of a baby. It wasn’t working. Not to mention that if a murder took place at 5:59 p.m. when I was scheduled to be off work at 6 p.m., I still had to cover it.

So, for several years I focused on being the mother of two youngsters under age two.  It took everything out of me. I had no idea how intense parenting would be. A good friend of mine wrote a nonfiction crime book while her little ones were young and I am still in awe of her. Her book was based on one of the most horrific crimes our newspaper had ever covered. Although I had lived through the gruesome, gritty details of the case when it ran in our newspaper, after her book was published I had to read it in spurts. That’s because the story it told was so terribly disturbing. (And yet so well written!)

Meanwhile, when I left the newspaper, I had carted along a giant cardboard box with file folders and notes about a story I wanted to write one day. It was about my dealings with a serial killer —  a true life monster — who claimed to me that he had kidnapped and killed little girls. I figured some day I would have the energy to write a nonfiction book about it.

Then one day, my youngest started kindergarten. I signed up for a writing class on the novel at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. My youngest was only gone from the house for two and a half hours, but I devoted that time to writing. To my surprise, what I began writing was fiction, not nonfiction. I found what I really wanted to do was write a novel — fiction not fact— inspired by this haunting serial killer.

A few months later, I had completed my first draft of a novel about an Italian-American police reporter and her dealings with a serial killer. Now, the real work would begin.

Stay tuned next month for Part Two. This originally ran at http://www.kristibelcamino.com

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Author: kristibelcamino

Kristi Belcamino is a crime writer, photographer, and artist who also bakes a tasty biscotti. Her debut mystery, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, will be published in June 2014. www.kristibelcamino.com

12 thoughts on “Why I wrote: Blessed are the Dead”

  1. I am SOOO happy to have seen this book in many stages! It’s fantastic, folks. And, as you can see, Kristi worked her butt off to finally write it! So happy it will be out in the world soon!

  2. I love these kinds of stories! They’re so inspiring. My story is a bit of a flip-side to yours. It was when I was pregnant with my firstborn that I finally settled down to write. Isn’t that funny? And I wrote during naps and in the car during appointments and a huge chunk of my first book was written in the McDonald’s Playland area. NOT recommended.
    The part that is really similar though, is that I had to “drop out” of my career (therapist at a residential treatment center for kids) because it was too harsh of a difference coming home to my own babies. I think before kids I had more of a protective layer. Now that they’re older I’ve been able to resume duties, but as an outpatient therapist, not at a RTC.
    Can’t wait for June!!

  3. Thanks so much for your kind words, Donna! Totally the same deal – having kids opens up this flood of emotions or strips that protective barrier or SOMETHING. I admire you writing when yours were little. I was purely in survival mode. Even to this day, it’s all a blur. lol.

  4. Sounds like something that is right up my alley, Kristi. I don’t think I had too much of a protective layer when my kids were little – I just don’t think I had a lot of sanity to spare!

  5. Really enjoyed reading this and can’t wait until your book comes out, Kristi! Very excited to read it (although I know it’s going to scare the bejeepers out of me). Kudos to you for following your dreams!

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