by Tracy Kiely
The victims in my books are not randomly snatched from fiction’s equivalent of Central Casting. Instead, I create each one with great care and attention to detail. Because of this, I see them more than a mere prop to jumpstart the action for my detective. Every nuance of their character, hue of their appearance, and degree of their imperfection is selected for a specific reason. For me, each of their deaths represents something meaningful, something bigger than it seems.
And that something, of course, is petty revenge.
Laugh if you want. But, I’ve never made much of a secret about this. My victims are embodiments of those annoying souls who have really pissed me off. Horrible ex-boyfriend? Dead. Hideous Mean Girl in Middle School? Dead. Tyrannical Boss? Dead. Guy Who Cut Me Off and Then Flipped Me the Bird? Dead!
Okay, in my defense, for that last one was I was having a really bad day and the guy in question had a hair full of product and was driving a freshly detailed yellow Hummer with one of those ball sacks hanging from the trailer hitch. You totally would have wanted to kill him too, so put down the gavel, Judge Judy.
My victims represent a kind of cathartic release of pent up rage and frustration that would probably be better managed by trained health care professionals, but as my insurance won’t cover that, I write mysteries.
I did, however, once spare a character from jail. In writing my last book, Murder with A Twist (Midnight Ink, May 2015), I realized that the character I had pegged as the murderer had grown on me. I liked him. I didn’t want to see him end up in cuffs and thrown in the back of a squad car. So, I switched out the guilty party for someone else.
I think the reason for this, is that in creating him, I tried to create a character that the reader wouldn’t suspect. In other words, I made him likeable. At least, he was likeable to me. After a few special chapters together, I discovered that I couldn’t send him off to his prescribed fate.
As I write this, I wonder if I really shouldn’t look into getting better insurance. I’ve just admitted to not only creating characters just so that I can kill them, but that I’ve spared others out of a guilty attachment. Is this covered under ObamaCare? I think I’ll check into it. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? I’ll have an absurd conversation with a health care representative that will result in another character begging to be killed off. It’s kind of a win/win actually.
Unless mental stability is your goal, that is.