Writing about murder
I was standing in line at Loganberry Books, an independent bookstore close to where I live, waiting to buy a book and at the same time talking on the phone. I was complaining to the person on the other end about the main character in a book I was writing. I said into the phone, with people all around me, “She won’t die. I keep trying to kill her, but she just won’t die.” Everyone turned to look at me with horror in their eyes. I quickly explained, I was talking about a character in my book.
I write cozy mysteries. In fact, I’ve written about twenty-five of them and am working on several more. They are a genre I really enjoy writing in. And in them, there is always a murder to be solved.
My first book, In the Beginning, was often compared to Dan Brown books. It was a mystery, only I didn’t include peril around every corner, not swear words or sex. I just don’t write like that and readers complained. But then I found cozies and I learned there are certain criteria needed to make a book a cozy and I was comfortable with all of them. I was hooked.
But since cozies have the same formula, I decided to come up with different ways for my stories to stand out, to set them apart from other cozy murder mysteries. I think one way to do that is to make the method of the murder different. To “kill” the victims in my story in an unusual way. I try to do that in all my books, but let me tell you, it ain’t easy! I often search for hours on a way to murder the bad guy. (I only hope that no one in law enforcement would ever have to do a scrub of my computer, I would be in so much trouble!)
To make my murder mystery more interesting, I like to google weird and unusual ways that people have died. Like Isadora Duncan, the famous dancer. She loved long scarfs and wore them all the time. One day, while riding in a convertible, a breeze caught the end of the scarf around her neck, wrapped it into one of the tires on the car and choked her to death. Weird, right? Here’s another one: The London Beer Flood in 1814. A high-pressured beer vat burst causing a domino-effect that splintered all the other vats. More than 300,000 gallons of beer flooded the brewery and street and eight people died. That would be a great way to kill someone, don’t you think?
I haven’t been able to come up with a way to use either one of those methods to kill the victims in my books. But I’ve come up with some interesting ones—like water intoxication and dry drowning. In my new series, An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery, I used succinylcholine as the murder weapon in A Deadly Inside Scoop. I saw that method on a true crime show way before I started writing books and never forgot about it.
You’ll have to read my books to find out what other unique ways I’ve come up with. When you do, let me know what you think. Or, if you’ve heard of an unusual way someone died and think it will make a good story, please, tell me all about it!
About Abby Collette
Abby Collette is the pseudonym of Abby L. Vandiver, a hybrid author who has penned more than twenty-five books and short stories. She has hit both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller lists. A Game of Cones is the second book in the Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series, Learn more about Abby at www.authorabby.com.
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