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“Things that Drive Crime Writers CRAZY” (by Melodie Campbell)
Last week, all three of Dell Magazines’ mystery fiction editors—Linda Landrigan, editor-in-chief of AHMM, Jackie Sherbow, associate editor of EQMM and AHMM, and I—were interviewed on SleuthSayers, a blog by and for “professional crime writers and crime fighters.” In exchange for our interviews, a call went out to regular SleuthSayers contributors to blog for our sites. EQMM was delighted to receive this post from Melodie Campbell (known on SleuthSayers as Bad Girl). Called the “Queen of Comedy” by the Toronto Sun, the Canadian author has won nearly a dozen crime-fiction awards, including the Derringer and the Arthur Ellis. She is the past Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada and the author of a number of highly regarded crime novels. Her short fiction has appeared in AHMM and other publications; EQMM readers will have seen stellar reviews of her Goddaughter series in The Jury Box.—Janet HutchingsI’m a crime writer. Hell, I’ll put on my other hat (the one with the pointy top) and say it. I got my start writing comedy. Standup and newspaper columns, with the odd (very odd) greeting card thrown in.
I have a certain amount of legitimacy, in that The Toronto Sun called me “Canada’s Queen of Comedy.” Apparently, someone on staff there likes “wild and loopy.” Which may call into question their sanity as much as mine, but I digress.
I now write comic capers (the Goddaughter series). This is because I made the biggest mistake ever made by a person not legally insane.
Way back when we all had pet dinosaurs, one of my plays was performed in Toronto (Burglar for Coffee.) It may have been a bit zany. A television producer happened to be in the audience. After the show, he came up to me and said, “You are completely nuts. How would you like to write pilots for me? You’ll need to move to California.”
I had two toddlers at the time. And I’m Canadian. No way could I see how I could move to California. So I said no. Besides. It was 1993. Who had ever heard of HBO?
As I said, the biggest mistake ever made by someone not legally insane.
So I turned to a life of crime. Okay, writing crime capers. I come by that legitimately, but that’s another blog post. (How to Write Mob Comedies Without Getting Taken Out by The Family. And you thought I was kidding. . . .)
Which brings me to the point of this blog: suspension of disbelief. I’m willing to admit that as an audience, we might agree to “suspend belief” for a little while. As a writer, I do it regularly. As a reader and viewer, I delight when someone takes me into another world.
But enough is enough. Crime fiction and television, you go too far. CSI Hoboken, or wherever you are, take note. Here are some things that drive otherwise fairly normal crime writers (oxymoron alert) crazy:
- Crime scene people in high heels and raw cleavage.
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