The Eyes of a Crime Fiction Writer
Richie Narvaez, author of Hipster Death Rattle, offers us a look at life through the eyes of a crime fiction writer, where the garbage bags are full of possibilities and Celine Dion is the reddest of flags.
The eyes of the crime fiction writer see the world differently than normal people, or even normal writers.
The eyes of the crime fiction writer, for example, watch television differently. Most people watch crime shows for the schadenfreude, for the cheap thrills. But a crime fiction writer is different. A crime fiction writer is watching to remember. And critique. “What an original way to kill someone!” Or: “It’s so obviously the husband. Again.”
The eyes of the crime fiction writer look at everyday scenes and see something . . . unsavory. A spouse tells you to take out the trash, and there’s a pile of garbage bags there on the sidewalk. A so-called regular person probably thinks the sanitation department really needs to get its act together. A crime fiction writer, however, lingers outside and looks at the pile and wonders if there are severed body parts in there. And if the head is included.
The crime fiction writer imagines a killer hacksawing away in the bathtub, imagines the killer scrubbing for hours afterward, using a dozen rolls of paper towels now stuffed in the bags with the limbs. Criminal POV or discovery by bystander? Short story or novel? The crime fiction writer goes back in for dessert. Red Jell-O tonight? Perhaps after making some notes.
In the eyes of the crime fiction writer, even the most mundane tasks have the potential to connote “sinister.” Laundry, for example. Boring drudgery for some, certainly. 1. Load 2. Add soap — and make sure it’s the right amount or else! 3. Add the sickly sweet smelling softener. 4. Sigh. But when you’re a crime fiction writer, you’re not bored.
You watch the spinning clothes and wonder if there’s enough bleach in the world to fool the crack forensics team you’ve collected in your head. Then in walks a neighbor, who owns a cat (the “I Effing Lurv My Cat” sweatshirt is a giveaway), and you wonder, If this person died, poisoned, by the door and blocked it from opening, how long it would take the kitty to chew through that person to get to the cat door, and could the kitty, now on the loose, be used to solve the crime? You, as the crime fiction writer, upon seeing this and thinking this, feel bad for forgetting to bring a notebook to the laundry room. Something for AHMM perhaps.
The eyes of the crime fiction writer sitting in traffic watch the traffic like everyone else. But while others may carry on text conversations or fiddle with music, the crime fiction writer wonders how many of the people in the other vehicles are murderers? How many of them have bodies in their trunks? How many are fleeing from or are on their way to committing a crime?
See that innocent-looking woman in the Subaru, nervously tapping on the steering wheel. Is she, having just offed her husband, off to meet her lover and can they make it together to the border before the police catch up? See that doughy man in the SUV, the one with the shades and the ill-advised haircut. Is he so upset at the current state of politics that he will lose his temper in just a few hours and enter a bar with a purpose darker than stout? He’s listening to Celine Dion, loudly, so the answer is likely “Yes.”
But then the eyes of the crime fiction writer may turn inward and wonder, All this gruesome, grimdark stuff, all this gazing into the abyss, it can’t really be healthy for the compos mentis, can it? Whenever elevators doors open, when passing by a jewelry store, when changing your pants, plots and twists and scenes and motives spin in your head.
Think enough about monsters and become a monster also perhaps? Hmm, make a note to channel that character quirk into a flawed MC.
Still, one has to wonder.
“Yes, honey, of course, I’ll do the dishes.” Look at this kitchen knife. It’s deadly dull. But still deadly, when thrust just so. “Hey, sweetheart, when is your mother coming to visit again?”