I am constantly thinking of new fun ways to kill people. It's not that I'm an angry or violent person, but after writing six murder mysteries it's impossible not to at least consider the many possibilities. For instance, in my second book, Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights my protagonist considers killing her cheating brother-in-law by rigging an inflatable sex doll with explosives. Memorable, right? Or how about this...a small percentage of people (including me) have abnormally high levels of magnetism/static electricity in our bodies/skin. What that means is that if I wear a watch for a month or so it will stop, the battery will die and no other battery will ever work in that device again. If I wear an iphone against my skin (with like one of those sport-armband deals) it will also stop working.
So what if someone like me purposely had sex with a rich guy with a pacemaker? Could such a woman even be prosecuted? She would just have to be sure to spend a lot of time snuggling afterwards but it could work!
Oh, and when I'm hiking I'm always wondering if one could hide body nearby.
When I read warning labels that instruct me to get immediate medical attention if accidental ingestion occurs I think...what if someone didn't get medical help. How would they die? What would that look like?
And I've found myself in rather dark conversations due to my profession too, particularly when I'm doing research. Like the time I spoke to a corrections officer and asked him what kind of marks would be left on a man's neck after he tried to hang himself but was cut down before death. He paused and then said, "I'm not sure. All the people I've cut down from self-made nooses have been dead."
It's at moments like that when I realize that although I may sometimes think I've become desensitized I haven't been. I am still innocent enough to be shocked by the idea of having to cut down a dead body from a noose on more than one occasion.
But for a murder mystery novelist those dark moments are important. Particularly if you write mysteries like mine, books that are encased in pretty covers, with tongue-in-cheek titles and filled with humor. Because even in those kinds of books you need to remember that you're writing about the end of human life. You're writing about brutality and every once in a while you need to jerk your protagonist (and your reader) out of the laughter, romance and excitement and remind them of the darkness. The contrast between the light and the dark can be jarring, as it should be. Just a tiny taste of hate and cruelty to remind us why we crave joie de vivre.
It's a reminder that we can laugh about the explosives in the sex doll without guilt. We have not been desensitized. On the contrary, we're so sensitive that when it comes to our entertainment we take our darkness in small dosages...and then we work through it and find our way to the pages that makes us smile again.