This month’s topic is rebels. That’s a broad topic with lots of meaning for writers. Both of my series characters are rebels to a certain extent. They have to be. My characters are amateur sleuths. It takes a bit of rebel to decide to solve a murder if you are not a cop. Of course, the murder (or crime) has to hit close to home, and the character needs good reason for her involvement, but beyond that—it takes a rebellious streak. Keeping that rebellious streak in the realm of reality is the writer’s job. Neither of my characters are vigilantes, neither believe the police incompetent. What then, do they think? Usually that the police are overlooking a valuable bit of information, something my amateur sleuth knows, that is also known to the cops.
That little nugget of information is the core of the rebellion. My sleuths look at it and see one story, the police look at it and see something harmless. In Death by Blue Water, Hayden discovered a charm bracelet on a dive. What the cops thought was little more than a lucky find, Hayden knew told a story of tragedy. It was this tiny find that helps bring the killer to justice, and nearly costs Hayden her life. In Murder in the Multiples, Catherine Swope looks at the crime scene and sees high-level official involvement while the cops see a drug deal gone bad. Each of these women rebelled against the status quo, followed their hunches and brought down the killers. The rebel is a facet of each of these women’s characters. The balance of their lives are lived within the same lines as you or I.
The definition of rebellion is the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention. Mystery stories are conceptually rebellious. The writer looks at everyday life and says, ‘what if.’ The ‘what if’ becomes the point of rebellion. The turning point where something that should be ordinary and everyday hits that bump in the road. There is societal conflict. Someone has resisted authority, broken the conventions, and committed a crime. It is up to our sleuths, rebels themselves, to bring closure, to return their world to the status quo.
The rebellion in some traditional mysteries and cozies is softer. While still dealing with death, the nastier actions take place off the page and the heroine is front and center. In thrillers and traditional mysteries of the noir persuasion, the rebellion takes place on the page. The reader witnesses it. The heroine is often not as much front and center as the villain or the act of rebellion. It’s a different treatment of a similar concept.
What about you, do you like your rebels hard or soft boiled?