This is Delphine, from France. I am a scholar and a chief editor for a French publisher (Zulma). I am working on bodies in detective fiction. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have ideas on the subject.
Other than that, I have the impression that a lot of writers start writing detective fiction to counterbalance a frustration. I mean your husband is a jerk. Well, instead of killing him for real, which mich land you in prison, you kill him in a novel (and then, when you are feeling better, with the profit of your novel, you get yourself a good divorce lawyer :-))) What is your point of view?

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This is a common misperception, in my view. Novel writing is an art, and to say that mystery novelists kill people in their fiction to sublimate their own desires to kill is as silly as saying Klimt painted a lot of nude women because he couldn't get laid.
Sue Grafton -- in several interviews -- has said that she began writing while in the midst her messy divorce, and her first five novels were her killing her husband in increasingly mischievous ways. She then decided to move on, to broaden her horizons, and kill other people who deserved it.
There are other famous examples of Delphine's assertion. Sure, there are counter-examples -- me for instance -- that did not start from angst, but Delphine left the door open for those opinions to enter.
There are always exceptions, Newt. But I'll still be surprised if even one person here agrees with the statement: "Yes, I started writing crime novels primarily because I was feeling violent impulses toward someone in real life and sought to work out my frustrations in a socially acceptable manner."

Delphine, I didn't mean to imply your question was inappropriate. This is a good place to ask it.
I started writing because I realized one day that I wanted to kill someone. I'd never felt that way before, and it surprised me that I actually had got to a point I could actually even think about it. (Not that I went so far as to plan it, just realized the motivation was there. I made myself stop before Means and Opportunity showed up.)

I don't think that made me turn to a life of crime fiction so much as it made me realize I needed a life beyond work, some balance, so that I wouldn't let myself get so wrapped up in what was truthfully pretty trivial. It could have been trainspotting, or knitting, I suppose. But I'd wanted to write for a long time and being too wrapped up in dumb stuff gave me the kick in the pants to give it a try.

Though come to think of it, my upcoming book was very much driven by how I feel about George Bush.
Feeling murderous about Bush? :-)))
My husband has asked me politely to stop yelling at the television. It hurts his ears.
Yep, I had the impression that How the Strong Survive was more about my ex than yours :-))))
How the Strong Survive had nothing to do with my ex. It was about answering your challenge to write a book to your specification. It also was metaphorically about me, you, Nance, my sister Annette, and one other, moving on from past pain to new gain. It caused me to renew my roots in my Lakhota culture, which caused me to regenerate the spirit in me that the ex had almost killed.
If you can wait long enough, the 4th Nick Schaevers -- working title Can't Go Home -- is very much about my ex. She isn't killed, she is the killer. I won't say more until I see you in Paris in September. Since the 1st Nick Schavers isn't on the street yet, you may have to wait a while for the book.
I'll try to be patient! BTW François is ready to meet you and your publisher then.
"I have the impression that a lot of writers start writing detective fiction to counterbalance a frustration. I mean your husband is a jerk. Well, instead of killing him for real, which mich land you in prison, you kill him in a novel"

Sounds close.

Okay, just kidding. (Really, Evil Kev.) For me, I've always been writing something. I decided to write crime because that's what I enjoy reading, and because it's important. I'm a bit more 'issues' oriented in my interests. I read a wide range, but have a real appreciation for work that makes social commentary. Not in a 'hit you over the head' kind of way, but subtle. A great book makes you think about things long after you've put it down.

In most of my work the murder happens off the page. The emphasis is more on justice than murder. I don't even name my victims after people I don't like - I name sleazeball characters after people I don't like. If someone's a jerk to me I want everyone to loathe them, not sympathize with them.
Although my reading tastes have been eclectic since the day I found out I could read, I've always ejoyed some form of mystery, horror or crime writing the most. Edgar Allen Poe, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson. So, when I decided to write, I graviated to the genre that appealed to me the most.

However, I did bump off my father...pardon me...A father type person... in one short story, and had a great time doing it, I must admit!
Funny you should mention this, Delphine. I was giving a talk at a library last night, and used this very subject, though not using your exact words--writing to counterbalance a frustration. This might not be the reason why we initially choose to write, but I do think it plays into our themes and characters that populate our novels. Back to counterbalancing frustrations... When I first started writing, I chose romance, even though everyone said as a police officer, I should write the police procedural. An odd choice for a cop, I know, but at the time my thinking was that I deal with criminals and idiots and crime on a daily basis, so why on earth would I want to come home, turn on my computer and create more crime, fictional or not? (Of course, the romance was about a cop, who solves a crime, but I failed to see any connection at the time.) But after much convincing, I finally tried my hand at writing the police procedural, basing it on my own experiences on the street. What I found was that writing about crime and criminals became very cathartic. Bad day at the office? Supervisor giving you hell? Come home, write him as a fictional character, and show him to be the idiot he really is. No solution to the case you're investigating? No problem. Send your cop on a new lead, solve it from your computer, and catch the bad guy in the end, giving him the justice he deserves.

I think there is a lot of truth in writing to counterbalance not just a frustration, but to explore, perhaps, why some things happen in this world. We try to make sense of what goes on around us, things we have no control over. Writing gives us that control.


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