Saralyn Richard is the author of a children’s picture book and three police procedurals for adults. You can read her last Blackbirds post here, and find out more about her here.
When Murder in the One Percent was released, I went on a whirlwind book tour from city to city. It was thrilling to meet face-to-face with readers and listen to their comments and questions. A few questions emerged as typical: where did the plot idea originate, do you outline, or why did you choose that setting?
I was stunned, though, when a woman asked me why I would write a mystery when the world is so full of crime and violence already.
In truth, as a person who abhors violence and faints at the sight of blood, I’ve made sure my books aren’t too gritty or bloody. Any violence in my books has taken place “off the set” as in a Greek tragedy.
A Legitimate Answer
Still, a legitimate question deserves a legitimate answer. My brain stretched to my days as a school administrator. Whenever bad things happened on my watch, I made sure we all learned the proper lessons from them. Life is full of challenges, and part of overcoming them is being prepared. Conquering each obstacle empowers us to address the next one.
That reminded me of a quote from P.D. James: “What the Detective story is about is not murder, but the restoration of order.” At the end of a mystery novel, the characters and the readers are able to move forward, equipped with the knowledge and efficacy that comes from a problem solved.
I’ve written several mysteries since that time, and each one ends with a satisfying ending, a righting of wrongs, a ray of hope for the future. What is more important during turbulent times than inspiring readers to think, solve problems, and find ways to restore order to a disorderly world? I believe the mystery novel does that.
So, why do you read or write mysteries?
Award-winning mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard has ink in her veins. A former urban high school educator, she’s living the dream, connecting with readers through her books: A Murder of Principal, Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, and A Palette for Love and Murder. Saralyn participates in International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, and teaches creative writing. Connect with Saralyn at: http://saralynrichard.com, or on Amazon.
This Post Has 9 Comments
I READ mysteries to see if I can solve them before I reach the end.
I WRITE them to see if I can stump the reader.
Same for me Laurie!
Thanks to Blackbird Writers for hosting me today, and thanks to my fellow blackbirds. It’s great to be a part of the flock.
Thank you, also, Laurie Buchanan. Your reasons resonate with me, as well!
I read mysteries because I enjoy the twists and turns in the story and how the characters think through the problem. I don’t necessarily try to solve the mystery myself. I write mysteries to illuminate social issues that need attention so that we might correct them…an interesting murder mystery and what I hope are engaging characters are vehicles for doing that without me needing to get up on a soapbox. Or at least that’s my goal. I enjoy many mystery authors who seem to approach their work this way.
Thanks for commenting. I agree, Margaret, and you could extend your thoughts to describe literature in general. There should always be a WHY behind a story.
What a great question Saralyn. PD James has a good point about restoring order. We could all use a little bit of that feeling these days. Your Oliver Parrot mysteries are just the ticket. 🙂
Thanks for your compliment, Tracey. Parrott inspires me, too!
Saralyn: I agree with P.D. James. Restoring order, righting wrongs, finding balance, and bringing justice to an unjust world are reasons why I write mysteries. I read them simply because they make my brain light up with possibilities.
That’s exactly what happens to me, Joy. It’s not unlike the way Greek tragedy purges us of emotion at the end. Thanks for reading and commenting.