Sunday, March 17, 2013

Don't shoot!

How does my personal belief about guns affect my writing about guns?

by Meredith Cole

I am not a big gun fan. I don't own a gun, I don't regularly shoot guns, and I really know very little about them. I think there's far too many guns in America, and too many crazy people can get a hold of them too easily.

But I also grew up in the south where people drive around with gun racks on their pick-up trucks, and kids were pulled out of school for the first day of hunting season. Hunting means the difference between a freezer full of food and lean winter months in many households, and it has an added benefit of keeping the deer population down. As a gardener, I'm in favor of anything that keeps the deer population in check.

I also grew up with a gun in the house. I was raised on a farm, and the gun (which I saw only once or twice and still don't know where it's kept) was brought out to deal with such things as rabid animals threatening the safety of people or animals, or a predator that had managed to get inside the hen house or was slaughtering sheep. My peace loving parents preferred to use a have-a-heart trap whenever possible, but I guess they realized early on that some situations needed more deadly measures.

I have also shot a gun. I went on a NY Sisters in Crime field trip to a gun range in New Jersey and, after learning quite a bit about handguns, we each had a chance to shoot one.  I was surprised at how hard it was to pull the trigger and how challenging it was to aim. And I discovered that I wasn't a bad shot. I proudly brought home the evidence of my prowess, and it helped inform my writing about guns.

With guns, though, I generally use the same technique to write about them that I do with other things I know very little about: avoid them. That doesn't mean that guns are never in my books, just that they don't play a very large role. And you'll never hear me mouthing off about the technical characteristics of this gun or that. I know that's a sure fire way to get myself in hot water.

Not to change the subject or anything, but The Virginia Festival of the Book is all next week in Charlottesville, and I'll be moderating two panels at Crime Wave on March 23rd. The festival is a lot of fun, and I enjoy having so many talented writers come hang out in my hometown for the week!


NancyM said...

Guns are such a hot button for me. So I made it a bugaboo for my main character, Nora Blackbird. Lemme tell you, I get more mail (I will stop short of calling it hate mail) from angry readers about this issue. If you want to alienate readers, but an anti-fun rant in your book!

NancyM said...

Whoops---epic typo!! That was supposed to be "anti-gun rant." LOL!

Meredith Cole said...

Too funny! Thanks for stopping by Nancy! Just wish you were coming to the fest this weekend... Next year--??

Kristopher said...

The festival sounds wonderful. Wish I could make it. We'll see.

I will be at Malice on Saturday though. Then off to the Festival of Mystery in PA. Bouchercon in the Fall.

I miss running into you Meredith.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I follow your path when it comes to guns. In my books it's a "big" gun or a "small" gun. That's it.

Have fun at the festival!

Meredith Cole said...

Kristopher! Hope to see you at something this spring or fall... Haven't figured out my schedule yet for all the cons...

Reece said...

I'm with you and Sue Ann when it comes to writing about guns. Nothing is surer to draw reader comments from certain quarters than a technical mistake on that subject. Hope you have a great time at the fest!