Friday, February 26, 2010

How much motive?

Recently (or maybe not-so-recently, I forget) I sent a query letter, along with a synopsis, to an agent. I'm still in the market for a good agent, so I'm always sending these things out and so far I've accumulated quite a collection of rejection letters. Most of these rejection letters, through necessity or otherwise, are form letters with maybe a quickly scribbled word of apology added in the margin. One of these snagged my attention however when the scribbled words turned out to be, "I just don't believe the antagonist's motive for murder." I stared at her words in surprise and was almost immediately filled with sadness for this pitiful creature, for it was obvious that she must lead an extremely sheltered life and have no access to books, television, newspapers, the internet, nosy neighbors, or even the sidewalk in front of her home. Motive for murder?!? Those of us who delve repeatedly into the twisted psyches of killers learned long ago that murder needs little or no motive (although in order to write a convincing and juicy mystery and/or crime novel a motive is usually a must!) to take place. Sure there are murders that stem from elaborate scemes, a botched robbery, or passion... but there are murders that happen all the time that defy the "norm". Who hasn't flinched at the news of someone who's murdered over an imagined insult, a slight (real or imagined) on a crowded city street? Whole families have been killed for no more reason than to steal the dog! How many homeless persons suffered beatings and death at the hands of someone that considered the act little more than a prank? Motive? Motive? The madness and evil that men (and yes, women) do needs little to motivate it. An idea that may seem monstrous or unimaginable to the average person may seem totally rational to a killer. This has been proven over and over again since the days when Cain killed his own brother Abel in a fit of jealousy. So I'm afraid that I have to disagree with this young lady when it comes to a motive for murder... people don't need none.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Serial killers, child murderers, the Canadian Armed Forces and book deals

If you haven't heard recent news, let me say that it's one of the most shocking murder cases in Canadian history--especially in military history. Colonel Russell Williams, a Canadian military man who has commanded thousands and piloted presidents, has been accused in the brutal murders of two Ontario women. Charges of forcible confinement, sexual assault and break and enter of two other Ontario women have also been filed against Williams.

Random House Canada announced that they've signed a book deal with Timothy Appleby, a reporter for the Globe and Mail, just days after charges were laid. The book will detail the court case and presumably the accused will be interviewed, as in most true crime books. Will it give readers insights into the mind of a killer? Or sensationalize what is a terrible and horrifying tragedy for the victims and their families?

The book will be titled: Betrayal in Uniform: The Secret Life of Colonel Russell Williams

On a personal note:
I was recently contacted by the survivor of 2 murder victims, someone I've come to care for as a friend and admire for her strength. She asked me if I'd consider writing a book based on the trial, conviction and horror that was done to her loved ones. As her friend, it was very hard to say no. As someone wanting to see justice, that decision was even more difficult. As an author, I'll admit that too made it difficult. It's a horrific but compelling story.

Why did I decide not to write a book about a murderer and his victims? I don't believe I'm the kind of writer who could report only the facts, although I once was a reporter for a small BC newspaper. Facts don't appeal to me as much as emotion. And I cannot imagine being the one to rip the proverbial bandage off my friend's heart and expose her to more torture.

Did I make the right decision? I honestly don't know.

I don't judge any writer for jumping on an opportunity, but being that the Colonel Williams case is so fresh, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this book deal. I only hope that the truth comes out in court and that the victims' families find a sense of justice and peace afterwards. But I know from personal experience that being a survivor of a murder victim can be a grueling journey.

Colonel Russell Williams will be joining Steve and Lorelei Turner, formerly stationed at Canadian Forces Base in Chatham, NB. The Turners were convicted of torturing, starving and murdering their three-year-old son John. They were both sentenced to 16 years but have been paroled--early. According to the Canadian Press, "The boy had not eaten for weeks and may have refused food. In the final days of his life at Canadian Forces Base Chatham, N.B., John was restrained by a harness and gagged with a sock to muffle his cries. He died on May 29, 1994."

I had the misfortune of knowing Lorelei and Steve Turner. My husband and I were stationed at the same base. My baby and baby John played on a blanket in their living room. I can't even begin to tell you how it makes me feel to know I was in the home of brutal murderers. I wish I'd known and stopped them.

Links of interest:

Book deal signed for story of Colonel Russ Williams

Random House Canada signs Globe and Mail crime reporter Timothy Appleby to write a book on Colonel Russell Williams

Colonel Russ Williams's biography

Profile: Colonel Russ Williams charged with murders of Jessica Lloyd, Marie Comeau

"Ontario woman convicted of son's starvation death granted full parole"

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling suspense author