There are tons of genres you could have contributed your talents. For some reason, you ended up writing crime fiction. Not fantasy. Not techno-thriller. Not cyberpunk. You wound up writing/reading crime fiction. What was the trigger? Why do you write what you write?

For me, it was a fascination with the raw intensity committing a crime brought. As a crime reporter, my favorite stories were the atrocities everyday people committed. The forces that transformed a benign person into a criminal peaked my interest. That transformation makes for a terrific backdrop for a novel, one that drew me to explore. The fact it could happen to me or someone I know makes it all the more dangerous and appealing.

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I first got interested in mysteries thanks to Ed McBain and the most boring family reunion on the planet. I was about 13 or 14, and avoiding the slew of aunts I didn't know and found an Ed McBain book in my uncle's study. Started reading and couldn't put it down.

Like you, I eventually became a crime (oops..."public safety" - and yes my eyes are rolling) reporter before working my way up the ranks to my current position as publisher. For a long time, I thought about writing a true crime book and still have some clips that might be suitable for such a book.

One day, I did a very short story - maybe 6 inches - on an old crime and the idea of it just stuck with me. That resulted in my first (still unpublished) novel, but ever since I've experimented with crime fiction and have been fortunate enough to publish some short stories.

I have long been fascinated by crime - probably why I followed that path in reporting. The emotions and passions that drive people to do the things they do is ... morbidly ... interesting. AND I think it is an ideal genre to explore something else that fascinates me - gray areas in human behavior, gray areas in right and wrong, and the idea or concept of whether or not it is "right" to do something "wrong" for a "good" reason.

And maybe it's cathartic. As you know, crime reporters see a lot. That has to be dealt with. I mean, the guy who chopped up his girlfriend, put her parts in different coolers, buried them all over, then went back and had dinner with her parents. Or..the woman who came home, noticed the broken-in door, noticed the blood, and sent her children in first to discover their murdered father (whom she hired someone to kill). The kid who shot five police officers before "disappearing" only to be subdued and turned in by his grandmother. The guy who went into the bank and shot two tellers and then turned the gun on himself. The guy who "burned alive" in his car in the park, except he was handcuffed to the steering wheel and there was a bullet in his brain. These are all stories I worked on and remember. Stories that stuck with me and still stick with me, and I guess had to be dealt with in some manner.

Perhaps that's another reason I like writing crime fiction.

And, honestly, it's just plain fun to write.
You brought it up, Clay, so I have to share. The best crime report I did was of a motivational speaker who traveled the country telling kids to stay away from drugs. So what does he do? Go crazy on meth and try to kill his girlfriend and another male friend. After detained and charged with nine felonies, he cracks double digits when he threatens his (now ex-) girlfriend from his jail cell and hires an attorney with fraudulent credit cards.

He now resides in prison and beneath entries in the New Heritage Dictionary under "insane" and "stupid."

A close second was the guy who chased his girlfriend with a chainsaw Jason Vorhees-style.

Let's not forget, too, the guy who tried to blow himself up with a gas oven after slaughtering his girlfriend, only to miraculously survive his injuries for a lengthy stay in the hospital and legal system.

(Sigh) I miss those days...
Holy Cow.

It is simply...well...amazing what human beings can do to each other.
What y'all said. Plus, it's a chance to let my inner psychopath run around. It's also a good excuse to write about food, drinking and sex--and an opportunity at times to do comedy, which I enjoy.
Hey, Jon, that inner psycho is something I think a lot of us crime fiction writers can relate to! "Amuck, amuck, amuck...."
I've read crime novels for a lifetime. So when I thought of writing, that was first choice -- because I knew the genre pretty well. My interest is not so much in the criminal's mind as in the fall-out of a violent crime on the living.
I also write straight historical fiction, but that also involves crimes and a certain amount of violence and its results.
I would bet a large number of crime writers picked this genre because they grew up reading it. You fall in love with a few writers's styles, their characters, and if you've got the 'writer's itch' in you, sooner or later you say to yourself "I can do this!"

Especially true when, over the years, you find yourself amazed at who was picked to be printed and wondered what kind of cactus-juice that editor was drinking when he said he'd buy the 'script.
Run me up a pipeline for that cactus-juice, friend!
And yes, I agree, it's what most of us grew up reading or watching on tele, that sense of mystery gets into the neurons and bloodstream.
Like others, I grew up reading it, ever since my grandfather showed me my first Sherlock Holmes story and I found a Mickey Spillane paperback while helping my father clean the basement. I also like the fact that a crime story, by its nature, provides an ending. Doesn't have to be happy, and can be unsettling, but you know when the story is over.
Like a lot of these folks, I grew up reading it (and still do). But I think it's also the basic balance of it. I've reached the point in life where I really like the idea that there's some kind of justice, that things make sense and come full circle. Not true in real life, but I love making it happen in print.
All of the above and then some. I have always been fascinated by crime itself. I think what you said at the onset is the primary reason: The fact that it could happen to any of us at any time makes it both dangerous and intriguing. I have a family member who was the victim of a crime and I myself have also been and it never ceases to amaze me what human beings are more than willing to do to each other. I would like to point out that the crime against my family member and the one against me, while both were different, neither was life-threatening. I would also like to point out though that the individuals responsible for both, while known, were never prosecuted. Needless to say, the justice system is of great interest to me as well.

Writing crime fiction involves so many things, but development of the characters is the most fun for me. Should my 'bad guy' have nice ways about him, should my 'good guy' cross over to the 'dark side' briefly for whatever reason, should the criminal get caught, get away, how can I accomplish this, that and the other?

The genre is wide open for any time period, any crime, any victim, any criminal... The challenge is there and it's like you have to take it on. Joyce
After 6 years of university English I finally took a course that was on 'popular' fiction. It was all bio-thrillers and many of them were terrible, but after reading Dicken's and 20thC Canadian fiction, I was amazed how much I wanted to turn the pages of these books. So, i quit writing 'literature', read a crap load of mysteries and 'thrillers' and discovered that the art in these books was exactly what I wanted to create.
So here I slog away on a PI novel having finished a police procedural which didn't turn out quite as I wanted it to. And it is, above all else, fun!


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