Have you ever wondered what someone who didn’t know you would think if they investigated the titles on your book cases?
Now of course I am not suggesting I am up to anything dodgy other than injuries I may inflict on characters I create, but I have just been catching up on some true crime programmes I had recorded and it did make me stop and think, well that and the dog. The dog probably started it to be fair as once more it had managed to tangle its tail in the brambles at the bottom of the garden chasing fairies (must be fairies because I can’t see what it finds so fascinating down there) of course the first thing all self respecting dogs do when they have a bleeding tip of their tail, yup they come in and give it a really good wag. There were several rather interesting spray patterns across the lower part of the wall and I did joke with the other half that if I was to disappear at that very moment it would take forensics a long time to eliminate every canine blood splatter. With this amusing thought in mind I settled down to watch some TV, something I tend to do in binges rather than regularly these days, and after watching a programme on Broadmoor and one on Fred and Rose West I started thinking about something one of the officers in Broadmoor said about being able to tell by seven which children would end up there.
Now I am not going to start in depth nature vs nurture debates here or discuss biological and chemical factors that can lead to the types of crimes and illnesses they were discussing in the shows so don’t worry but what did raise my eye brow was the idea that interests can be indicators of predispositions to certain behaviours.
Then I looked at my book cases…
Then I cringed…
Then I realised if ever social services looked to closely I would have to pray they believed I was a writer and it was all research material.
The truth is my book shelves are probably not that different to anyone one else’s but I thought it would be interesting to consider what is actually one them. Okay we start of with the Classics, not much wrong there really of course there is lots of murder, child labour, prostitution and crime and that is just Dicken’s but nothing too graphic.
Next up we start getting more disturbing, yes it’s the kids books, now if you have not read them for a while I suggest you start revisiting the original Grimm’s tales etc! I remember my daughter reading the actual Children’s Classic of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Disney has a lot to answer for at this point as I never considered this as a book I need to check before she read, well let me tell you she had nightmares after reading the section where the blue fairy hangs Pinocchio from a tree and sets fire to him!
Then we start with the grey area’s all the Sci-Fi and Fantasy I have on my bookshelves, mainly the later, full of violence, some sex, magic, witchcraft and some rather unsavoury characters. Also in my case you can throw in a Spell book or two which can be taken either way as they are not black magic just things like spells for health and happiness, thankfully no voodoo or satanic content though there may be some who would argue if I was to say the spells backwards lol.
The area it looks really bad is the growing section of real life crime, and misery memoirs, and lets face it some of those can be very gruesome. There is something naturally fascinating about evil, it is something that few of us ever come into direct contact with knowingly but is always only a few degrees of separation away. Terrible tragic things happen on a daily basis and at first it is easy to dismiss them as just another news story but for literally hundreds of people it can be life changing, and I believe that is where our fascination lies. Yes, we wonder what makes people do horrible things, and we are interested in the crimes but I think it is the people that surround the crimes that hold more interest in many ways. The number of times we ask how neighbours did not know something was happening, how they covered things up, how no one picked up on clues which in hindsight always seem so obvious. The next door neighbours of serial killers nearly always describe them as quiet, and polite, obviously annoying the neighbours would not be a good mood if you have dead bodies under the bed but it is also the fact they look so normal. If you were to stop and think about it even if you have never personally come into contact with these sorts of tragedies the chances are you know some one that has a degree of connection with one. Everyone knows someone who worked for the same company as someone who knew a killer or victim, or went to the same school or drank in the same pub. I know people who know someone who survived been attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper, now of course in reality that means nothing but what it does do is make it more real. It brings it from the pages of a book or newspaper and makes it something normal and everyday but instead of normalising it, it actually makes it more intriguing. As writers we possibly concentrate more on the murders on the how’s and whys than the average reader but the fascination is there for all. The number of Crime Channels on TV and crime programmes be the fact, fiction or a mixture of both continues to grow and likewise the number of books published.
I am pretty sure my book shelves are pretty much like anyone else’s and that if I ever did anything wrong someone could read more into the titles than they really represent but I might just move the books on anatomy away from the real life crime section just in case…
So what do you think your books say about you, generally mine say I am a fantasist with a fascination for the pain and suffering of others but as I say I think that sums up most writers.