October has arrived. I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, fall! Leaves! Hot cider! Sweaters! Boots! Yay! (Can I use any more exclamation marks?) On the other hand…
Call me a grump, but I don’t really like Halloween. This probably (okay, definitely) comes out of my kids’ elementary school days when I had to come up with 2-3 different costumes (one for school, one for other activities, one for trick-or-treating because heaven forbid you wear the SAME costume twice). I realize I am in the minority here. I’m okay with that.
But Halloween and mystery writing have a lot in common:
- Both deal with people putting on costumes – literally and figuratively. The bad guys sometimes masquerade as good guys and vice-versa. There are rarely actual costumes involved, but that’s not the point.
- Mystery writers are deceivers. We talked about this earlier on the blog. Part of the charm of mysteries is the figuring-it-out part. Writers drop clues, red herrings and bits of information everywhere. It’s up to the sleuth – professional or amateur – and the reader to figure things out. We want to challenge our reader, but nothing gives quite as much joy (okay, at least to me) as a reader saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming!”
- Writing allows us to deceive ourselves. I think Joss Whedon said it perfectly: I write to be the characters I’m not. That’s a bit of self-deception, isn’t it? At the end of the day, I’m NOT a cop or a lawyer. But for the time I’m immersed in the story, I’m absolutely those characters. I’m strong enough, I’m smart enough. Those imaginary people are a bit of me. It’s a little like putting on that Halloween mask. I think there’s a reason costume balls are popular. For that brief bit of time, we get to pretend to be someone or something else. So it is with writing. And reading, too. A good book will pull me out of my everyday life – and there are days when that’s a really good thing.
So while I’m not all that into physical costumes, I’m totally into slipping into the deceptive world of a mystery. Too bad that’s not a category in the office costume competition – Best Fictional Costume. Because I would totally rock that one.
Readers, what about you? Do you see a natural affinity between Halloween and mysteries or not?