Saturday, June 26, 2010

Travels with A Mind to Murder

K D: I just returned from a week in France. I can't talk too much about it or I will give away my Other Identity (not that anyone cares) but I was traveling with a group, and it was mostly business.

Kaye: Too bad the business is a secret--I'd like to find one that gave me a week in France. I even have to pay my way to Paris, Texas. But we're glad you're back safely!

K D: My trip made me think about murder mysteries. Of course, everything makes me think about mysteries. Seeing the Eiffel Tower makes me think about the movie Lavender Hill Mob. That's just the kind of person I am.

Kate: So, were you thinking of writing murder mysteries, or of watching movies?

K D: Good question. I didn't spend my whole time thinking about old movies. I mostly thought about groups.

I was a member of a group business trip. There were six of us, and I had met only one of the people before I joined the trip. There's a certain kind of social anxiety in that sort of situation. These people, I don't know them, but I am going to hang out with them nearly 24/7 for a few days. Will they like me? Will they be okay with me? Will I offend someone? Will someone murder someone?

Kaye: Group dynamics are so interesting for a writer to study, aside from the individuals, if you had any interesting ones with you.

K D: Okay, the last question was farfetched. No murderers on this trip. But I wonder about the anxiety that underlies the statement. The anxiety of meeting a group of new people, and feeling you are "in their hands" to some extent. Can you think of a book that brings that feeling forward?

Kaye: I think most of the mysteries I read, even the hard-boiled, and thrillers (a few of those) serve me as entertainment. And, of course, studying my craft. It's non-fiction that gives me anxiety. Especially Ann Rule's true crime books. In fiction, everyone is made up and you can dismiss the really bad things that happen--that's only fiction. But in non-fiction, bad stuff really happens!

OK, back to touring and mysteries. When I was in Greece a few years ago and saw the size of the wooden cask in the place where the monks made wine, I couldn't help but picture a body stuffed inside. Did you come away with any ideas you might someday use?

K D: Not really. If anything, I thought about how small and well-maintained everything in Europe tends to be. We're super-sized in America (cars, hotel rooms, etc) so there are more places to stash a body. However, I did find out that they used to mine iron in Normandy: with mines that had shafts on land and then adits running out under the sea. They had the same kind of technology in Cornwall to mine copper. All this is in Victorian days, more or less.

There are still left-over structures from those days, and that might be something to use in a story.

Kaye: I'm always thinking of a way to write off the expenses. If I could just take a fabulous trip, then get published quickly enough.

K D: It's an interesting question: why do we think this way. Not about expenses, about murder. A group of people...will one be a murderer? Odd structures...a place to stuff a body? I don't think this is the natural way to think.

Kaye: Should we donate our brains to science so they can study them? It might be interesting for someone to see what writerly brains have in common. They can't have mine for a good long time, yet, though. I have to get my mysteries published first!

K D: Amen to that, Kaye! Here's to publication!

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