Give them nothing

It is with a disturbed and saddened heart that I witness this rise in mainstreaming of bigotry in our country. Somehow, it became okay to believe that white people, the most privileged and entitled group on pretty much the entire planet, are somehow in harm’s way and are therefore justified in pushing an agenda of purity and violence. Really? Really?

I am not unfamiliar with racism. I grew up with it. It still exists all around me. It crops up in old tasteless jokes, usually about Native Americans or minorities. After Obama became president, the awful monkey poster made the rounds. I still hear grumbling in local small town parades as royalty becomes more diversified. And I see it in the wide births that I sometimes witness in the local grocery stores when groups of newly settled immigrants are doing their shopping, often speaking a language to each other that is not English.

Presiden Trump is not the reason for this reappearance of an old ignorance, but his refusal to admit the alt rights’ irrelevance in a modern America only emboldens those who can’t accept that our country has no room for their hate any longer.

This condoning behavior from our commander and chief has sparked a resurgence in white power rallies that only promise misery and pain to those of us who must tolerate their First Amendment right to exist and assemble in public places.

So what should we do? If counter protesting only spurns them on, then what is the solution?

There are many of those who will vehemently disagree with me, but I suggest we do…nothing. Don’t counter protest. Don’t show up at the rally if you are not a cop and obligated to be there. Don’t pay any attention to them whatsoever. Let them have their right to speak, to chant, to act like big bullies with their ridiculous symbols and pretend they are important, but let their audience be no one. They want the attention. They crave the validation. Don’t give them the satisfaction that they matter.

They’ll have to look for that surge of adrenaline elsewhere, probably by doing something illegal. Then the authorities can arrest them and they’ll go back to being recognized for the thugs they truly are, lacking any of the faux legitimacy they think they somehow gained in January. Give them nothing.

It’s a question of body count

I often wonder if other mystery authors start a book with the number of characters that are going to die in mind. I generally don’t. I start with one victim and go from there. It’s just how I work, much like how I live, in a reactionary, fly by the seat of my pants sort of way.

There are many reasons I choose to kill off a character. The most obvious one is the murder moves the plot along. That’s a murder that is essential to the flow of the story, and the one that is usually first.

Then there is the character that I decide to murder because he or she knows too much and I need obstacles for my main characters. A person of interest may be too obvious to keep alive, so the murderer takes him or her out.

There are, of course, the murders I decree because the character is too evil to be left alive. I don’t think I’ve let a single villain live longer than a few books. They never go to jail, at least not yet. I think it’s my own inner sense of justice that predicates those murders. They deserve to die. Sounds simple to me.

Some murders occur to ramp up the emotion of the story. ¬†These are also the characters who usually don’t deserve to die. They are a reminder that death does and should affect us with some proportion of sadness, even if the deaths are fictional. I won’t lie. I’ve cried writing the aftermaths of some of my murders.

I’m currently working out a murder in my head of a character that I hadn’t originally planned on taking out. Let’s just say, this one is tricky, but the best ones usually are. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you soon.

You can’t plan your life or your novel to the letter

Well, I suppose you could do so with the novel, but good grief, how boring would that be? I am currently writing my sixth (good or bad, it is an accomplishment) novel, and though I originally had a rough idea of major plot points, even now, two years into it, details are revealing themselves in unexpected ways, things that would have not occurred to me, had this installment of Bernice Hordstrom’s life been penned any sooner.

It reflects recent changes to my own life. After nine years of disappointment, I have a beautiful, drooling, ever evolving full time job. The things in my life that I thought were pretty much set just a few ago are completely different. There is now a new trajectory in my life concerning everything, goals, values, hopes, priorities. And there is no doubt in my mind, that something else big and life altering will come down the pike and require changes in direction and expectations.

I also believe that novels need to have some fluidity to them. It’s the only way I’ve been able to write. Spontaneity cannot be planned, and I love when quirky, out-of-the blue notions just suddenly present themselves to my brain as I am typing or writing in a notebook. Even as I think to myself, “okay…where did that come from?”, there is a deep understanding that the weird, out of nowhere notion is fitting, is memorable and adds enough panache to what would perhaps be a rather predictable action to keep it fresh and consequently keep the reader’s attention.

Plus, these impulsive revelations make it fun for me as a writer. Otherwise, what would be the point, really? I don’t have an editor breathing down my neck, expecting me to make good on my ginormous advance from the giant publisher. I write to please me, and you, I hope. If it was no longer fun, I’d be better off spending more time making forts out of blankets and coming up with goofy voices to read that long ago memorized book for the umpteenth time. At least for now, I still have the fortitude to do that and write. Please stay tuned. More sex, murder, and mayhem is on its way with some off the wall details. You won’t be disappointed.