03 January 2015

Mess with me, Darlin'? Watch me Kill You with Words

(In which we attempt to address a serious subject in a light-hearted way)

Here’s some news for all you sociopaths out there, and just plain nasties: Don’t mess with a crime writer.  We know at least twenty ways to kill you and not get caught.

On paper, of course <insert nervous laughter>. We’re talking about fictional kills here.

Or are we?

My name is Melodie Campbell, and I write comic mob capers for a living. And for the loving. So I know a bit about the mob. Like espresso and cannoli, you might say they come with my Sicilian background.

This should make people nervous. (Hell, it makes ME nervous.)

But I digress. To recap:  the question offered here was:

Do you ever take out real life rage on fictional murder victims? Are any of your victims based on people who pissed you off in real life?

Oh sweetie, don’t I ever.

One of the joys of being a writer is playing out scenarios in your fiction that you dream about at night.  One of these is murder.  (The other is sex, but that would be my other series, the Rowena Through the Wall fantasy one.)

Back to grievous bodily harm. Like in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, I have my little list.

To the covert colleague who made out to be friends and then bad-mouthed me to the board at a previous job. 

Yes, you got caught red-handed. I called your bluff.  But better than that, I made your mealy-mouthed sorry hide a star of THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE.  Goodbye, Carmine the rat.  You live forever in fictional history.

He never will be missed.

To the sociopathic boss who undermined an entire department and got a kick out of making my sweet younger colleague cry: may you age like a hag and end up alone.  Oh wait – you did. And not just in A PURSE TO DIE FOR.

She never will be missed.

Oh, the joy of creating bad guys and gals from real-life creeps!  The crafty thing is, when you design a villain based on people you have met in person and experienced in technicolor, they sound real. Colourful.  Their motivations are believable, because they actually exist. No cardboard characters here! 

Of course, I may fudge a few details to keep out of jail. Names and professions change. Males can morph into females.

But fictional murder can be very satisfying. (Definitely more satisfying than fictional sex. Oops.) 

Revenge is sweet, when coupled with royalties. 

You can ignore that crack about 'fictional kills only.' Of course we’re only talking books; in my case, light-hearted murder mysteries, and mob crime capers.

That’s right: mob capers. Like I said: never mess with a Sicilian Goddaughter.

Melodie Campbell achieved a personal best when Library Journal compared her to Janet Evanovich.  Her fifth novel, THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE, won the Derringer and the Arthur Ellis.  www.melodiecampbell.com


  1. (wringing hands and grinning madly) Heh heh, har har, chortle chortle…

  2. Melodie, my characters are usually combinations of people I've known with what my imagination does to them. When the first Callie Parrish book came out, I heard from my college sweetheart. He wanted to know if the first person I murdered on paper had his first name and a last name similar to his on purpose.

  3. Leigh - I shall always think of you in a black cloak with a Snidely Whiplash mustache now...grin

  4. Fran, which begs the question...did it? grin

  5. Oh I do truly love this writing job! The things we get to do when we are making up ways to kill off a character. Revenge is definitely sweet, especially when you really don't have a mess to clean up.

  6. You've made for another enjoyable start to the day, Melodie!

    Hits can sometimes go awry however, as when I had a ferret bite the dust in one of my stories. An irate lady wrote me at length declaring that I failed to properly appreciate ferrets and demonstrated great insensitivity (I'm not making this up). She was right, of course, and I've since sworn off ferret hits--weasels are another matter though.

  7. David, it shall be our cardinal rule: NEVER make an animal a villain or a victim. People, however, are fair game (note 'game'- dang, we're 'on' this morning, David! grin)

  8. Cath, spoken like a woman after my own heart! Mess, indeed, grin.

  9. Loved your comments about "no cardboard characters" -- a concept that is very important to me. I never assign an action to any character unless I can imagine someone I've known actually carrying it out. Not saying anyone I know is a killer -- but I have to be able to get into the motivation, and at least imagine a real acquaintance committing the crime. Otherwise it won't ring true.

  10. Donna, now I have to go back and reread your books, with a different eye (smile)

  11. Enjoyed your article a lot. And yes, I've killed off a person who's dun me wrong. That is one of the best things about being a writer. I had a friend many summers ago who wrote children's stories with a dog detective. She confessed that she killed her mother-in-law over and over and the MIL loved her books and never, ever recognized herself. Talk about getting rid of your frustrations.

  12. Reading your post, I kept thinking, "Oh, YEAH, I've done that!"

    Trying to think of a specific instance, in which I'd imagined someone I knew being murdered, however, I found myself stymied.

    I did once envision of person I knew, when writing about a suicide victim, because I thought that person's attitude fit the character and his actions. And -- humorously perhaps -- I've never realized, until now, that I always imagine my wife if I'm writing a sex scene -- otherwise it comes off dull and rather flat. Hmm...

  13. Dixon, I think you're wife is a very lucky person, and likewise, you. What a lovely thing to say.

  14. Jan, if my mother in law loved my books, I would have loved her! Amazing how we come to think that people who love our books must be extremely witty and intelligent (grin)

  15. If you can't kill them off in fiction, when CAN you kill them off? Of course I've done it. And I've sent them to prison, had them lose everything, embarrassed them in front of the whole town. That's the fun!

  16. Embarrassing is the BEST weapon, Eve - grin.

  17. I've often said that Deadly Legacy wouldn't have got finished if my mother didn't provide the motive. No I didn't kill my mother. but I did commit a murder on her behalf. I think she would have appreciated that.

  18. To David Dean, you can't kill a pet, but you can best a particularly irritating one.

  19. I've never done this...And now I can't wait! Heh, heh, heh.

  20. Mwah hah hah! Still working on placing some of my embarrassing dates into characters but the dates are outpacing my writing speed....

  21. I always love your wit and wonderful humor! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  22. Dorothyanne, I love it! I'd read that book.

  23. Thelma, thank you! Always a pleasure to hear from you.


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>