THE WRITER’S SEEING EYE by Lisa de Nikolits
Ideas for crime novels. Where do they come from?
“We need to watch another episode of Forensic Files,” I said to my husband.
“It’s 2 a.m. on Christmas Day,” he replied, “We need to get some sleep so we can enjoy Christmas.”
“Ah, just one more,” I encouraged him. “It’s all research for me and I’ll make you a fresh cup of tea. Just one more!”
That’s what I tell myself anyway.
And it’s true that I have learned a lot about ethylene glycol and ketotic hyperglycinemia, blood spatter, fingerprint analysis, handwriting analysis, the ever-famous DNA, toolmarkings and ballistic analysis.
While the things those guys can do is just mind-blowingly amazing, two things struck me with this program. The first is how stupid some people are, when it comes to committing a crime. Most of the time they leave behind a trail of evidence that is nearly a paint-by-numbers for the detectives to solve.
And the second thing is the impulsivity of the crimes, which occur on the spur of the moment.
While I am full of admiration for Forensic Files, when it comes to novels, things are very different. Readers have very little patience with stupid protagonists and they are very quick to spot any story inconsistencies or things that might not ring true in the flow of a crime committed.
In real life, how many times you have found yourself staying “real life really is stranger than fiction” and it is stranger because it’s not reasoned out in the same way that we plot books, real life crime just happens and then people try to mop up the mess and sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don’t.
My ideas for the crime in my novels comes from flights of my imagination. The big ‘what if?’
For example, my husband and I got confused while taking a ferry back from Sydney to Cremorne Point – he got off while I didn’t and in that nano-second, I was convinced that he had fallen into the black water of the Sydney harbor and drowned.
He was fine, of course he was, he had got off while I had been photographing something and there was nothing to it.
But my writer’s seeing eye saw him being ushered off the boat, with a gun tucked under his armpit, and a gothic anarchist girl leading him away. I saw that a human trafficking gang had confused him with his doppelganger, and that an innocuous picture that he had posted on Instagram had caused all the confusion. I saw that my husband’s niece was involved in the kidnapping, and that she was being haunted by the ghost of a woman who had been locked up in an insane asylum.
None of which could have come from Forensic Files or crime stories from real life, but that said, nothing is going to stop me from watching my favourite program – all for ‘research’ of course!
Lisa de Nikolits is the author of five novels: The Hungry Mirror, West of Wawa, A Glittering Chaos, The Witchdoctor’s Bones and Between The Cracks She Fell. Between The Cracks She Fell was reviewed by the Quill & Quire and on recommended reading lists for Open Book Toronto and 49th Shelf. Canadian Living magazine called it ‘a must-read book of 2015’.
Lisa has also been published in various anthologies and journals including Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, 2015, Thirteen O’Clock, Maud.Lin House, the Canada Woman Studies Journal, Hood and the Jellyfish Review.
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com @lisadenikolits
The Mesdames of Mayhem: http://mesdamesofmayhem.com/about/