I think that the experience of being criminalized might pack a reality/emotional wallop which could add depth and darkness to writing. Imagination is always key, though, isn't it? I think that genre writers can be stereotyped. Do some readers tend to assume that sex writers DO everything they write about? Perhaps some think so. But I doubt that readers think of crime writers as criminals, murderers and such . . .
Remember the case of Jack Abbott? He was behind bars for forgery, prison escape, bank robbery and the stabbing murder of a fellow inmate when Norman Mailer championed his release saying Abbott was a promising, talented writer. Abbott got released and six weeks later stabbed a man to death. He hanged himself in prison twenty years later, his promise never realized.
I've read about that - then recently came across this link
Re: the criminal system, I feel for the falsely accused - or for someone who is rotting in prison for a marijuana seed - or for the person who truly self-defends but who is charged with murder - another issue is selective prosecution and the huge variation in the length of prison terms for the same crime.
OK, I can say right up front that I've never committed any crime. But that's not to say I can't understand the drive, or the ability to commit a crime. Speaking only for myself, there is defintiely a dark, twisted side that exists. I've always understood that I am a good, decent person by deliberate choice because that's what I want to be. I'm proud of who I am. But I think I've always known that, if I chose, I could be quite different....
Is that a deviation from the norm, if we are all honest? I don't know. I can only speak my own truth. And I do think it makes me better at creating and defining characters, both good and bad.
This is just the best question ever! And the responses -- so funny! But seriously, though I've never committed a crime, I've lived enough of my life on the checkered side of the street to know a thing or two about criminals. I'm not saying I once married one, or that he tried several times to off me, or that he almost succeeded twice, because that might open me up to having to explain, which I will not do. But I'm familiar with the phrase "nasty bastard"! That's all I'll say on that one!
I have not committed a crime but I have been on the end of one as a "victim" (though I do not like that term) and i have been in court, been cross-examined, been in hospital and the whole she-bang. While I have never used the exact story of what happened I have drawn on it emotionally as I feel my readers can relate to aspects of that.
I once asked a very sweet little old lady, whom I'd known all my life, if she had ever thought of divorce. This 75-year-old sweetheart who had been married for 57 years looked me right in the eye and said, "Divorce, no, never -- murder, many many times."
I think most people have committed crimes in their imaginations, although many would never admit it.