Crime doesn’t pay …

… but writing about it does. It’s fun to me to talk/write about master criminals, as if there is such a thing. There rarely is, you know — most of the time a real-life con-artist or thief or murderer is pretty ordinary. And pretty dumb. Because most of them get caught. Not a hundred percent, no — but enough to know that the payoff isn’t worth the hassle for most criminals.

But here’s the reason it’s fun to write about criminals: you can let your Id run free. You can murder that nosy neighbor, or that meddling mother-in-law. You don’t even have to write a death scene — instead write their character (and their flaws) so large that the person could recognize themselves. They’ll be mortified. You’ll be gratified. It all works out in the end.

It’s one of the reasons fiction is so appealing to me. You can make the world you want — and within that world, you set the rules. The only requirement is that you be consistent within the rules of that world, and tell a tale in which the characters’ actions, reactions and thoughts are reasonably plausible.

What could be better?

So why do I write about crime? In most of my work, I’ve written about thieves or murderers or guys with a score to settle, men (and women) who aren’t always on the up-and-up. What fascinates me about the recidivist lifestyle? Why does life on the fringe captivate me? Well, for one thing, exploring the mind of the criminal class leads one to see individuals. There are few individualists anymore — men or women who take their lives into their own hands and try to bend the world to their will. Or simply refuse to bend to the world’s will.

Often, those people break — because let’s face it, it’s a tough old world out there. And it’s broken many. But stories of people who stand up and are unafraid to be true to themselves, who live without fear of the deadening, dumbing crowd, are still popular. That’s my thought on why crime writing pays: we want to read about people who don’t have to bend to the whims of a manager. Or a regional manager. Or a customer who’s wrong but thinks she’s right. We don’t want to submit to that cop who’s writing us a ticket. And in our fiction choices, we can read about people who thumb their noses at the law — and get away with it.

When you get right down to it, crime fiction is empowering. Gotta love it.

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