Deck the Halls with….Crime? by Leigh Russell
Barry Forshaw, the UK’s leading crime expert, wrote that my books ‘take the reader into the darkest recesses of the human psyche’ because my investigations explore what drives killers to behave in such an extreme way. Whatever some psychopaths may claim, taking another person’s life is always an act of insanity. That said, most of us could be provoked into killing under the worst of circumstances – self-defence, or to protect someone we love. It’s a fascinating subject for anyone interested in people, as I am.
With Christmas approaching, Shelf Pleasure asked me if it’s hard to ‘head into a darker place’ when everything around us is so cheerful. I still struggle to explain my enjoyment of the genre. On the surface, I’m the most unlikely candidate for the role. In real life I’m very squeamish. I don’t like reading about true crime. It’s too upsetting. Any crime is one human being causing another human being to suffer. There is nothing redeeming about it. But somehow, in fiction, crime transforms into entertainment. It’s a hugely popular genre. We can’t get enough of it, in books or on the television.
Crime fiction gives us tension and suspense, goodies and baddies, mystery, and the promise of a restoration of moral order. Like Oscar Wilde’s definition of art, it imposes order on the chaos of our lives. But it’s not reality. That is why we need stories. As children we were transported by fiction taking us through the back of the wardrobe, down the rabbit hole, onto a train at Kings Cross that carries us to Hogwarts, into another world. As adults, that need is as strong—whether it be for vicarious adventure, wish fulfilment, acting out our fears in a safe environment, romance with a happy ending, intrigue, or the company of characters who demand nothing of us but that we keep turning the pages in their stories.
So is it hard to write about murder in a room festooned with tinsel and Christmas baubles? I don’t think it makes any difference. But in any case, my next publisher’s deadline is looming in January. I don’t have time to stop and think about whether or not I want to ‘head in to a darker place’ right now. There’s another book to write – and it will have nothing to do with Christmas.
For many years, Leigh Russell taught secondary school English. She now writes the bestselling Geraldine Steel series, and guest lectures in creative writing at universities as well as running occasional workshops for The Society of Authors and The Writers Lab in Greece. Her debut novel was shortlisted for a Crime Writers Association Dagger Award for Best First Crime Novel. Well reviewed in journals as diverse as The Times, The New York Journal of Books, and Star magazine, so far all her books have reached bestseller charts on amazon, kindle, iTunes, WH Smith’s and Waterstones. A Top Read on Eurocrime, Voted Best Crime Novel by readers of Crime Time, and a Best Fiction Book in the Miami Examiner, Geraldine Steel is one of Lovereading’s Great Crime Sleuths.Links to all of Leigh’s books can be found on her website, along with links to her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..
Author and police psychologist Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D., weighs the pitfalls ..
Little known fact about Shelf Pleasure's Kristen: she's obsessed with ..
Although Debbie De Louise has been a librarian and avid ..