I've Got a Question for You—
Today, several of my co-workers tried to engage me in a conversation about the sick screenplays of the VA Tech killer posted on aol.com, hoping I might shed some light (from an author's perspective) on what would make this person tick. (Yeah, right. Like I've got some special 3-D glasses to interpret the ranting of a mad man.)
It's true, when I write fictional characters, I delve into the deviant mind and try to adapt a specific villain as a foil to my hero/heroine. But for me, the wounds of VA Tech are too fresh. I write murder & mayhem for a living now. I think I'll sit this one out, thank you very much.
I've tried to distance myself from this latest mass murderer—not wanting to give his life a higher and undeserved priority than the poor victims in this case. So to distract myself from these horrific and sad events—and yet work along the fringes of it—I wanted to ask you a question. Many of you are readers of crime fiction. I certainly am. For the purposes of this discussion, I'd like to define crime fiction as mysteries, suspense thrillers, true crime books, etc.
Why do we read crime fiction?
Personally, I'm a voracious reader and although my shelves are crammed with an assortment of many types of books, I still gravitate to the suspense thrillers and crime fiction. So to answer the question for me, I think I read them for the suspense factor, certainly. There's an undeniable rush of adrenaline when I read these types of books. And I've lost hours of sleep too.
But I also read them to see the world righted again. And I like the mental stimulation of crime solving, especially when forensics are part of the investigation. Although I don't need a tidy ending to the stories I read, the good guy generally prevails and the world is restored after the villain is caught and punished. Real life isn't always wrapped up so neatly and well ordered.
But what do you think? Why do you read crime fiction? Do you think books allow us to feel more in control because in a fictional world, wrongs can be righted with more certainty than real life?