The Crime Writer’s Guide to Procrastination
By Melissa Scrivner LoveFebruary 21, 2019
Join Melissa Scrivner Love, author of American Heroin, as she shares her favorite procrastination-slash-research rabbit holes. Procrastinators rewrite tomorrow!
Like any writer, I live to procrastinate. If I don’t get my thousand words in between five-thirty and seven in the morning—when I am not fully conscious and therefore don’t yet know to be scared of the page—I will try to talk myself out of it. And while I should encourage you to sit your butt in a chair—or a bed, if you are like me and like to be as close to sleeping as possible when you write—and open your file, I’m going to also encourage you to do as I do and allow yourself to venture down a few rabbit holes. Don’t worry, they’re productive. If you’re working on crime fiction, you might even be able to call them research. Either way, who’s to say they won’t stimulate some deep down part of the brain where stories swim before we even know they’re there.
1) MY FAVORITE MURDER
If you haven’t listened to this comedic murder podcast with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, now is the time to start. They don’t laugh at murder. They attempt to process atrocities through humor, and, being a cop’s daughter, I can get behind that. I tend to listen most while jogging. I’ve had to stop several times because I’m doubled over with laughter. At other times, I’ve had to skip forward to avoid something too close to home.
2) END OF WATCH
Watch this movie David Ayer wrote and directed, especially if you’re writing about Los Angeles. I tend to re-watch it on planes coming home because it makes me nostalgic for the city where I’ve lived for fifteen years. It goes very well with airplane wine and tears. Keep a particular eye out for Flakiss, the rapper/actor who plays one of the film’s villains. She is so perfectly frightening it is delightful.
Note: She is very kind in person.
This podcast hails from Australia, complete with an anonymous host whose accent is both endearing and chilling. If you go down a Reddit rabbit hole, you’ll find people trying to guess the host’s identity, but he keeps his own name secret for a reason—in order to keep the victims of the crimes he details the central focus of his podcast.
Casefile is meticulously researched and written, with amazing teasers to kick off each episode. The first episode, which details the still-unsolved Wanda Beach Murders, is a good place to start. A quick note, though—Casefile is not for the faint of heart.
4) 30 ROCK
This television show created by and starring Tina Fey is not an obvious procrastination tool for the crime fiction writer, but it’s a valid one. There was a period in my life when I was pregnant with my second child, parenting a toddler, and writing American Heroin. I was exhausted, I was overwhelmed, and I was terrified, given the dark subject matter I was working out on the page. 30 Rock is my constant palate cleanser when I’m working. I have seen the entire series at least seven times, and my husband can no longer enjoy it because he knows it means I’m working through some dark issues.
5.) LAURA LIPPMAN
Yes, reading one of the greatest crime writers of all time is indeed a valid form of procrastination. I go back to her books again and again for dare I say, comfort. Her writing gives me a sense of place and self like no other, even though I don’t think I’ve ever been outside the airport in Baltimore, and I would make the worst private investigator on the planet due to my claustrophobia, fear of heights, anxiety while waiting, and aversion to leaving my house.
Guess I better get back to the only thing I’m good at—writing.
About American Heroin:
From acclaimed author Melissa Scrivner Love comes a gritty and high-octane thriller about an uncompromising woman who will do anything to protect her growing criminal empire, even if she has to go to war with a rival cartel, her own business partner . . . or her own family.
It took sacrifice, pain, and more than a few dead bodies, but Lola Vasquez has clawed her way to the top of the Los Angeles drug trade. As her gang has grown beyond a few trusted soldiers into a full-fledged empire, the influx of cash has opened up a world that she has never known—one where her daughter can attend a “good” (meaning white) school, and Lola and her mother can live in a “safe” (meaning wealthy) neighborhood. Though she wrestles with the messy contradictions and compromises of the life she’s made for herself, one thing about Lola will never change: She’ll kill anyone who hurts those she cares about or who tries to take what’s rightfully hers.
But with great success comes great risk, and Lola’s ascent to the top has put a target on her back. When a brutal new cartel starts an all-out war that threatens to topple everything she’s built, Lola turns to her greatest allies for help—only to be betrayed in devastating fashion. Abandoned, desperate, and with her back against the wall, Lola must find a way to turn the tables on her enemies and save everyone she’s ever loved. Which is going to be a problem, because her greatest enemy of all may be the person she cares the most about.