I’ve never thought of myself as squeamish. But lately I find myself cringing at some of the blood and gore.
Have you seen the TV show The Following? Gad. Fortunately the setting is a large city, which is good, because as many people as they are killing off each week, it won’t take long to decimate an entire small town.
It makes me wonder if we’re to the point that it takes a lot to shock us. Maybe we just aren’t that easy to scare anymore. We’ve been desensitized to the point that even deaths need to be more shocking, more bloody, more bizarre. If you haven’t seen this TV show, it began with a woman stabbing herself in the eye. It gets worse.
I’m not sure I need this. I scare myself all the time with the characters I write. I don’t want to meet any of my villains in a dark alley, thank you very much. But I have never gone in for the gory, bloody, horrendous acts of violence in my books. I like more subtle, psychological evil. It scares me plenty.
Recently I began writing a romantic suspense with a villain who is so dark that I’m wondering if he is too awful – or if there is such a thing. How much evil do readers want to experience while reading a book?
Last night I was at my quilt club and one of the avid readers mentioned that she can watch really gory, scary shows and movies, but she can’t read books like that. The books are too real. Or maybe her imagination is.
I wrote a book some time ago about child abductors. The book, Twelve-Gauge Guardian, has continued to be one of my bestsellers. My heroine in the book was abducted when she was a child. She managed to escape and, now grown, has come back to catch the people who took her. My editor was concerned it would put readers off. It apparently didn’t.
As a writer, I have to get into the minds of my villains, but I scare myself enough that I often have a gun handy – and I know how to use it.
I know it’s a dark world we live in, but do we purposely scare ourselves with books, movies, television shows to face our fears? Or just for the adrenaline rush? I read somewhere that Stephen King wrote about his fears to keep them from coming true.
I write suspense because I love mysteries – and seeing the bad guy get his/hers. I want justice. But how far do readers want the villain to go before they are screaming for his blood?