I wish you and yours well during this difficult and uncertain time, and welcome hearing from you (see email button at bottom of page.) For those of you facing financial insecurity, please know that my publisher, Fahrenheit Press, is offering a FREE BOOK every day. Go to this link receive a free book:
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One more note: If you have unused N95 masks, please consider immediately donating them to the closest hospital/medical center or contact mask-match.com, a group providing desperately necessary N95 masks to the doctors, nurses and other hospital professionals risking their lives to provide care during this crisis. My daughter is a medical resident. Doctors like her are facing dangerous shortages so I'm asking this because it's personal and very real to me. Please know too that ordinary persons don't need N95s for trips to the market or the pharmacy. According to public health professionals, only those who are sick--sneezing, coughing, etc.--should wear masks (regular) to protect others and the sick should stay home and self-isolate. Regular masks, if not handled correctly, can collect and transfer particles so sometimes it's safest to go-mask-less, carefully distance yourself from others, and sanitize your hands.
We're all in this together.
Thanks and love,
I was on a panel about animals in crime fiction at Bouchercon last year and I'm preparing to moderate (weird term) one on the same subject in a few weeks at the Tucson Festival of Books which reminded me once again of the the truth of writing universally acknowledged––offered always with a shrug to indicate its obviousness as a reality-tested fact:
Whatever the fuck you do as an author, #DontKillTheDog.
Informing this LAW OF FICTION is the notion that killing said dog is the one thing readers will never forgive. A total turnoff. Indecent. A form of reader-abuse. A thought-crime and a writing-crime, a betrayal, a total fuckover worthy of some sort of punishment a.s.a.p.
For killing the dog is to void the tacit pact between writer and reader to not surprise too much, to tease but never actually go THERE. Sadism and violence against human beings is okay. Hyper-detailed descriptions of the sexual torture murders of young women pre and post mortem are "fascinating," but for God's sake, leave the dog alone.
This line-that-cannot-be-crossed in crime fiction that divides the victimization of an innocent human victim and an INNOCENT canine victim is an interesting one. Is it that the dead, often violated female at the center of so many mysteries is not fully innocent in the way a dog is? Is it that the reader and the writer can imagine hurting/killing another person under certain circumstances? But the capacity to hurt an animal is something no one, even animal abusers, ever admits to himself. Even Michael-Torture-Electrocute-Dogs-For-His-Own-Pleasure Michael Vick.
You tell me.
I know zero. Clueless late bloomer that I was (not sure that one is still said to be blooming after a certain age) and am, my first novel and the series that grew from it begin with a murdered man (that's fine) and a dog who died of cruelty and neglect.
Alas and without realizing it, I had fatally fucked up from the start. All was lost on page 3, book one. And having made the fatal error so early on, I was free.
At the Bouchercon panel all the panelists except yours truly spoke about why they would never "kill" the dog (also cat, etc), how absolutely wrong that would be, etc. and I found myself in the position of confessing that I had indeed killed the you-know-what to an audience of suddenly Keane-eyed stone faces.
I still believe that that if someone or something in your fictional world calls out for you to kill it, do it.
The victim in crime fiction is a stand-in for what matters and who matters--or it should be. In my series the dog matters. Not a dog sidekick inserted to "humanize" a character. To provide "warmth." "Cuteness." But THE DOG.
Fiction has its own truth. Nothing is deader than pages fogged over by words untethered to the real or to the deeply felt. Heed the insistent--animal or human--voice in your head. Listen to your thumping heart. Follow where your sorrow leads.
Over a million animals abused each year in the USA during incidents of domestic violence--and this is a guess as abuse is an elastic term and reporting is sketchy and omits violence in other forms i.e. animal racing, hoarding, breeding, fighting, testing, etc. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/animal-cruelty-facts-and-stats