by Kristine Coblitz
For some reason, people are often shocked when I tell them I write crime fiction.
I was a quiet child. I liked my time alone. As an only child, my best friends were fictional characters in books. I got more pleasure from reading in my bedroom than from wrecking havoc with other kids in my neighborhood. I think at one point my parents became worried I would grow up to be a recluse. I was raised to be polite and not break the rules, qualities that are admirable in a child but not necessarily helpful as an adult writer.
I like to think all that time alone in my bedroom prepared me for the solitude required to live as a writer. My parents are still stumped, however, about where my fascination with crime came from. I attribute most of it to my father, who loves puzzles and enjoys challenging me to see which one of us can figure out how movies or TV shows will end. I've gotten pretty good at it over the years, I must say.
It took me a while to come out of the crime writing closet. For a long time, my family and friends knew I was a writer, but they didn't know what I wrote about. When I started sharing details of my work, let's say the news was staggering to them. I would get the worried looks of caring aunts who wondered what had gone wrong. She was such a nice girl.
A few months ago, I had coffee with two friends I hadn't seen since high school. They found me through my MySpace page. When we reunited, the first thing we did was congratulate each other on how young we still looked (Ha!). The second topic of conversation was crime fiction. They were stunned to learn I write about murder. One of them remarked, “...but you were always so nice and quiet!”
As I told them with an evil grin, it's always the quiet ones.
They are trying to convince me to attend our 15-year reunion this year because in sharing stories and gossip about our fellow classmates, the two of them decided that we've turned out pretty well, especially me, who even though I write about serial killers, haven't managed to kill anyone. (I like to think there was a compliment in there somewhere.)
This past weekend, I had lunch with my cousin, who just graduated from high school. We were talking about writing, and she asked me how I could research and write about murder and crime every day without losing my mind. Her burning question was whether or not I scare myself when I'm writing my scenes.
My response? Yes. If I'm scared, I've done my job as a writer.
Have you come out of the closet yet?