Light Writing, Dark Reading

In our family room my husband is watching a Hallmark movie about a gorgeous judge-cum-shampoo-model in a small coastal town where no one locks his door and all the parked cars have keys in them. A thieves paradise, yet the crime rate is barely above 0. (It would be 0, except that sweet old Mr. C is losing his mind and has taken to stealing packs of gum from the EZ mart. Tsk. Tsk.)

If it were a book, we’d call it a cozy.

In the next room, I’m sitting in front of another large flat screen (mine is bigger than his, but his has better resolution). My entire body is focused on Dexter, his knife-wielding arm raised above his latest victim. Well, not a victim since the guy on the table is also a serial killer. Now that Dexter is gone from TV, I’ll have to re-read the Jeff Lindsay Dexter books. And “Boardwalk Empire” is a nice alternative as far as shoot-outs and bloody scenes go.

Definitely not cozy.

I usually watch and read only dark, unless a book club, class presentation, or the threat of a lost friendship requires me to read light. Give me a serial killer, a goon, or a hit man and I’m in reading heaven.

So why am I now writing my 20th cozy mystery? And that’s just the contracted ones. Why it is that every time I sit down to write a “thriller,” or a slasher, or even dark, psychological suspense, my fingers pull away from the keyboard and I take a chocolate break. When I get back, I drag out an old, funny essay and polish it up for a blog.

Here’s my theory: It’s just too scary for me to hang out and even sleep with a really, really, sick guy. And in case you readers didn’t know it, writers do sleep with their characters. Why else have a pad of paper and pen by our beds? In case the character says or does something noteworthy in the middle of the night. How sleep-inducing is that? Not.

So until further notice, I’ll be getting my thrills second hand, from other writers, and living real life with the cozy guy.


6 Responses

  1. We sleep with our characters–what a lovely/frightening thought, Camille! Well, I guess it depends on the character, and there are some I just want to get away from. But yes, they keep coming back, so better stick with cozy–or dark cozy maybe, the kind I like to read, if not sleep with.Anyway, something to reflect on for the new year. And true, it’s nice to “live real life with the cozy guy.” Or woman, depending on who you are. Happy New Year to you!

    • Funny, Camille. I too keep that pad by my bed, and sometimes the things I write down, usually when I’m just about to drop off, turn out to be useful. I’d never thought of it as sleeping with the bad guys, though. More like being “with book,” which I suppose means the bad guys are sleeping in me. This is too scary. No wonder I stick to writing cozies.

  2. I might have been too blase about my phrasing, Nancy and Sara. Thanks for clarifying the relationship! I think our characters are Significant Others, though, no matter who they are. I hope your new year is going well.

  3. I never would have guessed you were a Dexter fan.

    I’ll have to ponder this.

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