Friday, July 22, 2011

I just kill people on the page -- really

by Meredith Cole

For a mystery writer, I'm pretty squeamish about blood and guts. You'd think I'd have gotten better about it right now. After all, I think about death an awful lot. I think about who should die, how it should be done and who might have had a motive to get it done. This is also known as plotting your next novel.

In my regular life, I'm pretty much a pacifist. I swerve to avoid squirrels. I've shot a gun before (at a driving range on a Sisters in Crime field trip) but have never wanted to own one. I've taken self-defense, but I've luckily never had to use any of my skills. Probably the most aggressive I get during a regular day is doing kick boxing--or passing people in the pool who are going too slow.

So what's the question this week? Who would be a really hard person to kill? I immediately thought of that wonderful old movie THE LADYKILLERS (not the remake with Tom Hanks). Alec Guinness plays the leader of a gang of  robbers who rent a room from a sweet old lady and pretend to be classical musicians. They arrive each day carrying instrument cases, and plot their crimes while a record plays. Peter Sellers plays one of the gang, too. When the lady finally suspects something is up, they decide they have to kill her. They draw straws, but each one who tries is woefully unsuccessful.

So instead of pulling out Jack Reacher or the head of the CIA or someone else that's probably impossible to kill, I'm going to go choose Mrs. Louisa Wilberforce. Her goodness wins out over evil. Unfortunately, it's just a story, like the mystery novels we write, but it's very likely the reason that I'm more inclined to read fiction than the news. It's full of happy endings.

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