On Murder Most Foul and Abandoning Roots


I saw this tweet the other day, and it really resonated with me. 

Sarah Hilary (@sarah_hilary

Bored to death with grisly crime. Headless this and severed that *yawns* Psychological suspense is the way to go crimewriting

I have to admit, I feel the same way. I don't know when my - shall we call it squeamishness? I think we shall! - began, but it reared its head during the writing of The Immortals. And trust me, that isn't exactly a book for the squeamish. Or maybe it was after 14, which has a scene that turns my stomach. Honestly, it must have been, because Judas Kiss is a straight up murder mystery, not a serial killer book, and The Cold Room, while a serial killer book, has no blood in it. Which was a fun challenge.

I remember having this exact conversation with an author I greatly respect. I told her I was starting to get put off my lunch by my work. That the violence against women didn't work for me, that I was scaring the crap out of myself, that I was having such vicious nightmares I considered seeking help. She very adroitly pointed out that suspense could be just as intense with the threat of blowing up a mall at the heart of the story as could the threat of dismemberment.

Her words stayed with me. I knew I had one more bloodbath of a book to write, and I dove into it with all my heart. But it wasn't gross, it wasn't freaky, it was simply violent. And that was better, but not quite enough.

I followed that book with one without a murder. No one dies in Where All the Dead Lie. On purpose.

And my Samantha Owens books are straight up suspense, heavy on the mystery, with a strong dash of romance. 

I guess somewhere along the way I lost my bloodlust. Even my reading habits bore out this theory. I steered clear of the writers I knew were going to have gorefests, and went back to some of my previous favorites - historicals, romances, mysteries and psychological suspense. 

Have I abandoned my roots? Perhaps. But my writing is stronger, it's more appealing to just about everyone, and I don't cringe when I have to discuss the plots. And boy, how, have I been sleeping better.

So what about you, chickadees? Have you ever been into the freakily frightening stuff? Who's your favorite suspense writer these days? Recommendations wanted!