The topic about the killing kids in crime fiction got me thinking: As writers, are there any lines we won't cross? Is there a personal taboo that you just won't write about? (Not because you just aren't interested, but because it would be some sort of violation of what you believe is acceptable? Or you just don't have the mental guts to go there in your writing?) Some people won't write violence in their works at all, for example. (Which I suppose is unlikely to find in crime fiction. But it's an example.) The other thread brought up the popular taboo against killing kids in fiction, or killing animals. Are there other taboos you won't touch? Are the ones already mentioned among them? Why are these such taboos for you?

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I won't let myself write sex scenes. Not that I'm a prude. I'm just doing everyone a favor.

As far as taboos, it's got to be the N-word. It fits into some authors' stories given the context of its use, and I don't fault them for that. But even if I'm writing about a KKK rally, it's not going to be in my story.

There are hundreds. Where do you want me to start?

Pick! Which is most interesting to talk about? :P

Depends on who you ask. I can go on for days about gender stereotypes and sexism in crime fiction, but I stopped talking about it out loud when peoples' eyes started to roll back in their heads as soon as I opened my mouth...

I do sex scenes, not at length, but short ones are fun.


I draw the line absolutely at making a villain a sympathetic character or the protagonist. 


That doesn't mean that I haven't had murderers who started out as decent people and ended up taking the wrong turn somewhere.  But justice for the victims is always more important than humanizing a murderer.


Crime and guilt can be complex.  Lately I've focused more and more often on shared guilt, as in a recent short story ("Confessions") where 3 men bear responsibility for the death of a young woman, though only one of them committed the murder.

Currently, I'm working on a father's involvement in his own daughter's murder, even though she was his favorite.  Murder shouldn't be simple in a novel (though it usually is real life) 

Yes, crime and guilt can be complex. I mostly write about professional criminals - I know a few people in the marijuana business and they're very frustrated that they have to be involved with organized crime. They often see themselves as today's version of brewers and distillers during prohibition and feel that once their product is also fully legalized they won't be criminals anymore. So they don't feel guilty about what they're doing, just what they feel forced to do because of what they see as a temporary ban on the product.

I had a hunch Grow House wasn't complete fiction.

I had dead children in my first novel, and there are dead animals in the new one.  I've done both straight and lesbian sex scenes, and some others that were a little...different (one reader called them "uncomfortable"--heh).  I've also included a bit of of political content (mostly jokes), which has generated a couple of hostile comments on my blog from conservative readers, and is likely to generate more.  My characters swear a lot.  They also drink and fuck, and some of them do drugs--and I consider that a good thing.  There are some things I wouldn't do in the narrative, but only because they'd be out of character for my protagonist.  On the whole, the one thing I hope I never do is take myself or the genre too seriously.  I'm not trying to solve the world's problems, I'm not trying to teach anybody anything (except maybe that the best oysters in the world come from Welfleet harbor--but who doesn't already know that?)--I'm just trying to entertain.  If I ever go all didactic morality play, I have no doubt that my editor will abruptly put me out to pasture where I belong.   

I don't touch oysters, but I live on the Lynnhaven Bay, and Lynnhaven oysters used to be the best in the world.  The queen of England ordered them from here.  They are making a comeback, I think, but frankly I don't care.  This is a city, and we don't need wetlands restrictions to promote oyster farming.

My detective's daughter is closely inspired by my own daughter; the scenes between them are often taken from thins we've done, or are close reproductions. No matter what else i might do in those stories, nothing bad is going to happen to that kid. I'm not considered to be a superstitious man, but I don't mess with karma.

Hey, I hear you with that. lol Not that I believe in cosmic revenge or anything, but I don't think I'd ever be able to off any character based off of somebody I know. (Although I never really based a character off of anybody I actually knew either. lol)

That would make writing certain "blue" scenes...ah...a bit awkward to say the least.


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