"Hi. My name is Jordan. And I'm a … " I bite my lower lip and grimace, but push through the first step of my recovery program. "I'm a crime fiction author."
Oh sure, some might think this isn't a big thing to admit. Some may even envy my position, but I'm here to confess that as a crime fiction author, I'm not a well person. Bad men speak to me in my head—and I like it. I visualize a bloody crime scene and all I can think about is, "Does viscera have a 'C' in it?" When I say, "I'm cracking open a case" I'm not talking Heineken, people. And making a good impression in my world involves shoe prints or tire tracks. In short, what makes some people squeamish puts me on the fiction happy train.
That's because crime fiction authors don't think like normal people. We have a warped sense of reality and of what's funny. If a man is killed from poisoned chickpeas, this is tragic certainly, but I'm thinking it's a solid case of hummuscide. And I play deviant games of "what if" scenarios in my head, like what if tupperware could kill? What if coffee shops dispensed mind-altering lattes or espresso was discovered as the sole source of global warming?
Nothing is sacred, literally. I called my mother one day saying, "Yo Mom, I'm putting my Catholic upbringing to good use. I dumped the body in the church." I waited for her reaction and only heard a deep sigh, a familiar sound by now.
On the less flippant side of the coin, I also imagine and try to capture what courage it takes to run toward a gun shot instead of racing away like a sane person. I have a lot of respect for the men and women of law enforcement and I hope that's reflected in my writing. Author Lee Child said that it's not about writing what you know, but rather writing what you fear. That makes sense to me. Whenever I imagine the pain of losing a loved one to violence, it sets me on edge and makes me sad, but it's always a soul-searching experience. Hopefully, working on my empathy muscles will strengthen my ability to find compassion and tolerance of others who are different.
I'm a fan of anti-heroes and complex personalities, so I showcase my characters in varying degrees of redemption. Some deserve sympathy or forgiveness while others may be a total waste of skin. And characters handicapped by their personality flaws intrigue me, where only a fine line separates a good man from his criminal adversaries. And as in life, not everything in my books is black or white. I like my work to reflect the gray in between.
I know by now you're thinking that I really love what I do. I'm conflicted, I suppose. Weighing the consequences of becoming a crime fiction author has not been easy, but I'm taking my recovery one step at a time. And I'm optimistic that I'll find the right balance—or be forced to find a whole new set of friends.