J. B. Stanley on Mystery Writing
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: May 22 2008
Mystery writers have so much fun! We do oddball research that can range from how a .22-caliber gun shoots at close range to the Latin names of cattle vaccines to recipes for authentic chicken enchiladas.
It must be strange to live with a mystery writer. We are always killing people in print, and when we’re not writing a chapter in which somebody dies, we’re planning to write one in the near future. We scheme on behalf of our villains and stab, shoot, poison, suffocate, and commit vehicular manslaughter on a regular basis.
I often call my father-in-law in Utah (he is an expert on a spectrum of potentially lethal drugs) to ask him for advice on deadly dosages, side effects, and the appearance of cadavers. My husband listens to these conversations with a smirk on his face. He knows how much I enjoy coming up with original murder scenarios and how much his father enjoys pontificating over the negative uses of opiates. If I wasn’t a mystery writer, I’m not sure that his father would even know what to talk to me about.
The other night, after the kids were in bed and the dishwasher was merrily gurgling away as it worked on the caked grease I had created on the stove top an hour earlier, I was surfing on the Internet when I suddenly blurted, “There just isn’t enough clip art showing poisons on the Web! I need some violent drawings for my library presentation.”
My husband replied, “Isn’t that a good thing? The lack of clip art showing poison?”
I scowled and continued to complain. “And all the clip art showing murderers and felons shooting guns are drawings of men! Women kill people too. Sexist clip art. Jeez.”
This comment was followed by my husband swiveling around on his desk chair to ask, “What’s for dessert?”
Poisons cannot compare with dessert, of course, so that was the end of the night’s research.
This is the life we lead. By we, I’m referring to the Cozy Chicks. We are seven rather average women. We cook, clean, care for children, and do a little harmless killing. If you saw one of us in the grocery store, you’d never know that we’re dreaming of the hit-and-run scene we’ll pen as soon as we pick up the dry cleaning. The dumbbells at the gym remind us of the blunt object our killer will use on his second victim, and as we feed the fish in our child’s room, we ponder the possibility of a drowning in the next book in the series.
Okay, so maybe we’re not your average chick, but our time seated in front of the computer screen is never dull.
What is your favorite part about being a writer?