Friday, April 1, 2011

There's a killer on the other side of the bathroom door

by Meredith Cole


A killer on the other side of the bathroom door? Say it isn't so! This has been my fear ever since watching PSYCHO frame by frame in film class in college. It doesn't get any less scary when you analyze it. So maybe that's why I included a bathroom/killer scene in my first book POSED FOR MURDER. When you write it, you get to control it--and that's slightly less scary.

I'll try not to give too much away, since the scene is near the end of the book. But Lydia McKenzie is hiding out at a friend's house. She's been told the police have hauled the murderer in for questioning, but she has a funny feeling it wasn't them at all. Hungry, she and her friend order a pizza. But when the pizza arrives, the killer carries it into the apartment. This happens while Lydia is freshening up in the bathroom, so the killer has no idea she's there.

Lydia is forced to create a weapon from what she has around her. She has her purse with various items (nail scissors, blush, mascara, a comb) and bathroom items (toilet paper, a plunger, soap). This was a fun scene to write. The stakes were high (killer could murder both her and her friend) and time was limited. It took all her ingenuity to catch the killer off guard and get them out of their safely. You'll just have to read POSED FOR MURDER to find out how she does it. Although you might have guessed already that my sleuth lived through that adventure when you heard I had a series going. It's kind of a giveaway.

This week I'm talking about the influences of two other writers on my work at various events in my hometown. The Big Read book for Charlottesville is THE MALTESE FALCON, and I'm speaking at a few libraries about his book. I think it's impossible to write a book with Private detectives set in a big city without responding to his influential work. And, this Saturday, I'm speaking at the Nancy Drew Sleuths convention. Turns out, there was a Nancy Drew mystery set in Charlottesville, THE HIDDEN WINDOW MYSTERY, and so they're returning to the "scene of the crime." I'm going to talk about how she influenced me and millions of girls all over the world. Some of those girls may even have grown up to be crime writers (like me).

6 comments:

Sara J. Henry said...

I've always wondered in those "killer outside the bathroom door" scenes why the person trapped in the bathroom doesn't take the toilet tank lid off and smack the killer upside the head with it. That's a hefty weapon.

Meredith Cole said...

That's a good idea, Sara! One of the best lessons I learned in self-defense class was to go through frightening scenarios in your head, and then figure out a way to escape. It's a great exercise for plotting, too.

Michael Wiley said...

Sounds like a great scene, Meredith -- and it all goes back to Poe and pre-Poe Gothic novels : with innocent people locked in crypts and other out-of-the way places. And the added benefit of the bathroom: nudity -- partial or total or obscured by a cloudy shower stall.

If the toilet tank top doesn't work, maybe toilet paper spitballs will do the job.

Meredith Cole said...

Yes, it's hard to fight off a killer when you're naked (hey--where's Shane?) but hopefully it's not impossible. Toilet paper spitballs -- I like it, Michael.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Shane actually DID post about the naked killer outside the bathroom door on Tuesday! :)

I like the toilet lid idea, Sara! Next time I'm trapped, I'm calling you!

Great post, Meredith, and best of luck with the Sam Spade/Nancy Drew fans! (bit of a range, that)

Meredith Cole said...

You're right, Becky. Luckily Sam Spade was on Monday, and today is Nancy Drew. But hey--lots of mystery readers love to read a big range of stuff, me included, so it's not such a big stretch I guess...