Mystery Writers: The Nicest Killers You’ll Ever Meet

The mystery writing community is one of the nicest groups of people I’ve ever encountered. Based on the posts this month, the rest of the Mysteristas agree. I find it funny, though. The nicest group of people I’ve ever met is made up of people who spend all their time plotting murder.

I’m not kidding about mystery writers being nice. It’s not a “nice to your face only” crowd. My writer friends are the kind of people who would give your car a jump in the Target parking lot in a twenty below windchill, good-to-the-bone, down-to-Earth people. It kind of makes sense, though. I’ve written three genres: romance, mystery, and legal documents, if you let me count “the law” as a genre (which might expose why I’m a better novelist than a lawyer). Out of those three genres, writing a mystery is the most blue collar, hands-on pursuit. It’s like fixing a car, dirty with lots of moving parts. Theoretically–it’s not like I’ve ever fixed a car.

I’m getting carried away, though. Writers can’t ever be as cool as car people, unless you count Steve Ulfelder (actual car person) or Kristi Belcamino, who considers leather pants and a faux fur jacket to be winter wear. Most mystery writers look a little more library-esque.

Murderous thinking or not, I would vouch for any mystery writer as a last-minute wedding date. For one, thinking about death is normal. My kids certainly talk about it enough. I’m not so sure thinking about murder is normal, but certainly death. I asked a psychologist if it’s normal to think about murder all day long (over coffee with no context). Her response: “Normal is so relative. Thinking about murdering relatives might be normal. Relatives thinking about murdering all day might be normal, depending on the relatives.” So there you have it, we’re normal!

I’ve also noticed that people who reflect on the darkness in life tend to be easier to hang out with. I haven’t met any saccharine or phony mystery writers. Not to mention, a book needs a lot of dramatic tension. Murder is arguably the worst crime, so that’s what most of us write about. So on that note, I leave you. Mystery writers might spend all day pretending to kill people, but they make great dinner dates.

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Giveaway: comment on today’s post to enter! One winner will receive an e-copy of SMART, BUT DEAD by Nancy G. West (Aggie Mundeen Mystery #3).

SMART BUT DEAD cover front

“An impetuous, warm-hearted heroine with an insatiable curiosity, passion for learning and unquenchable zest for life.” – Mystery People.

Pushing forty and appalled at the prospect of descending into middle-age decrepitude, Aggie Mundeen blasts off to the local university to study the genetics of aging. She’s fascinated with scientific discoveries but finds a dead academic. Dangerously curious and programmed to prod, she winds up prime suspect and is on target to become next campus corpse. http://tinyurl.com/pxg2bm

 

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16 thoughts on “Mystery Writers: The Nicest Killers You’ll Ever Meet”

  1. Sam, it’s so true, right? I’ve not met any snobby writers and mystery folks are the best. Maybe because we know that if we irritate someone, we’re likely to end up dead (on the page). As Mary Higgins Clark once said, if someone annoys her, she just makes them the victim in her next book. I think that outlet is what helps me. Plus where else can I have a conversation about lividity and decomp where people don’t raise their eyebrows and edge for the door?

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  2. Definitely true. Maybe it’s because we are so intimately acquainted with the ‘seamy’ side of life that we actually live our lives in the sunshine. Then again, about that last minute thing…it could be we’re gathering experiences for our victims. Jump a car in -20 weather with a roaring windchill…sure, because what if that’s the last time our victim is seen alive? What did it feel like? how did the wind bite the exposed bits of wrist as she hooked up the jumper cables…you get my drift. Hope to see you at a conference Sam. It will be fun to swap stories.

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  3. This is so true. I belong to Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime and everyone is so supportive and willing to help out their fellow authors and aspiring writers. I think it’s because if we meet someone not so nice in our life (past or present) we can do something nasty to them on paper!

    Having met Nancy G. West at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, I can say she definitely took time to talk to me, a first time panelist, and give me advice. It meant a lot. Would love to win a copy of her book!

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  4. That’s such an important distinction, that it’s not “nice to your face only” but *genuinely* happy to help others out. What a gift! Love this post, too. (Another gift, thank you!)

    Now…what is the clock in that picture?

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  5. Totally agree! Your post reminds me of hubby’s worries, though, when he sees my bookshelves of resource materials. So many interesting ways to murder!

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  6. So true about mystery writers. I like the real-life, press-the-flesh, gritty, funny stuff all bundled up in a just ending (we don’t always see that in law, do we?). There’s something in the structure of mystery which allows us to explore all that stuff and in turn, attracts some very real people. And if there are really people out there who don’t think about murder all day long, what do they think about?

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  7. Sam! You are the very definition of nice mystery writer! And it is so true. I’ve heard (but haven’t substantiated) that young adult writers are vicious. And snobby. Will barely give you the time of day especially if you are not published yet. Mystery writers will call their agents for you and tell them they must read your manuscript. I’m so glad I write about murder!

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  8. Sam, what a great post! Maybe mystery writers are nice because, like you, we like people and are perceptive about them. When we get together, we feel like we have “found our tribe.” Loved talking to you at Bouchercon, Judy.

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  9. Thanks for all the lovely comments! After reading Sarah’s comment, I’m concerned I spelled saccharin wrong. Does it have an e or not!?

    Cynthia, the clock in the now absent picture was a jigsaw puzzle. 🙂

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  10. I’ve been fortunate to have mentors, and they’ve grown me into one. When I receive a gift with gratitude, I give one. And so it goes. We’re a giving group. Who like to knock people off. It’s all good.

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  11. I used to do a blog series called “Book Savor” where authors answered questions about their favorite books. The best question was “which authors would you invite to dinner and what would you serve?” Mystery authors always came up with the best answers and were so friendly and creative! So many dinner parties, so many murders, so little time.

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  12. Such a fun post! Thanks, Sam. I agree, mystery writers are so genuine. I think I’ve only had two people who weren’t super nice, and that’s impressive. I love “law” as a genre! Definitely counts.

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