Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Of Mice and Cats

Any decent thriller lets some blood, but I prefer not to wade in it.  Give me a startling spot of red on a white collar, thieves who rob their targets with a keyboard. But I can’t revel in violence or luridness for entertainment. That’s why I write technothrillers. Unlike my learned colleague, Sue Collett, I’ll take a decisive hollow-point bullet into the temple over a patient serial killer and his toolkit.

photo by Robert Sheie

Any. Day. 

Serial killers are an enormously popular subgenre, but toying with life for the thrill makes me cringe. And not in way that makes me want more. Ask anyone. I routinely rescue snakes and rodents and wolf spiders out of my swimming pool. Once, I liberated a pair of randy frogs who were unconcerned that their tryst was conducted under four feet of water. 

photo by Nigel Wilson

Someday, I expect them all to return the favor.

Over the years, I’ve been owned by several cats and have learned that their sole motivation is self-interest. None of my purring companions would rescue a rodent let alone me. My worth to them is restricted to finding that elusive itch and my confounding ability to open a can. 

photo by Emilie 

All of the phases of Sue’s prototypical serial killer can be attributed to the cutest of kittehs

photos by Wotthe7734

If their intended meal can provide some entertainment before it perishes, well, all the better. They simply haven’t got a soul. It’s the reason I won’t have a cat around that is bigger than a fuzzy slipper. I want them many weight classes below me. 

photo by Jessica Curtain

I admit to slowing down at accidents, but I always regret it. Before a jousting show at Medieval Times, I visited the torture room. What was I thinking? As humans, we’ve devised some clever ways to inflict pain on one another. I’ll take Nigerian spam any day. 

The etymology of the word Medieval comes from modern Latin for medium aevum or middle age. Personally, the experience felt more akin to amid evil. Not a place I want to hang.

photo by Bob n' Renee

Like my cats, fiction has plenty of feline antagonists who want their victims to share in the fun before their untimely demise: 

Characters in a book, perhaps, but we could easily find an equivalent in the news. I’d rather face an unfriendly firing squad than watch one of these at work. 

photo by Chris Christian

Yet, my friends and loved ones, who know I write thrillers, all insist I check out their favorite crime show. 


Even the main character of Criminal Minds, played by Mandy Patinkin, left that show after two seasons because it was too gruesome. Me? I didn’t last an hour. 

In fairness, many people enjoy serial killer dramas because evil is regularly vanquished.  But I don’t like them. They creeped me out as a kid. And now that I’m grown, I know that all the adults lied, and monsters really do exist.  

Helen Hanson works in the high-tech sector, which informs her geeky thrillers. According to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, her # 1 bestselling technothriller, 3 LIES, contains “an artistry that is hard to deny.”

Currently, she’s writing a sequel to 3 LIES. You can find all her thrillers in the usual places. And you can find her at coddling a goblet of red.


Sue Coletta said...

Nice rebuttal, Helen! I agree with you, that a blood spot on a white collar can be very illusive in crime fiction. But, speaking as a reader, I eventually want to know exactly where that blood came from. I don't think, as a writer, I need to show every gruesome cut, which is why I don't write horror. But, I do love to write alternating chapters that focus on the killer. They are deliciously naughty.

Unknown said...

To me the line between serial killers and horror is less distinct. Mind you, I did not miss my calling in any field remotely medical. As for horror, I often wonder how Tabitha King can sleep nights. Even my husband expresses concern when I linger over the knife block . . .

You're a good sport, Sue, thanks!