Live to be a hundred and you’re still gonna die

That’s the question Sandra Scoppettone asks on her blog, whether about her own work as a crime novelist, that of so many others, or reading such novels. Killing people is so integral to this kind of fiction, but what about as it relates to the real specter of death?

I do get upset by the idea of death.  Mostly my own.  Many friends

have died over the years and that was hard.  It wasn’t fiction and I

felt it.  Still, the idea of my own death can give me chills.


yet I write about it.  Not my own, of course.  But death in all its

guises.  Nothing is off limits for me to write.  Or read.  Except the

graphic death of an animal or a child.  Don’t want to write that

either.  Won’t. I’ve written about a child found dead, but I don’t want

to go much beyond that.

Nothing scares me more than knowing I’m

going to die.  Yet I’ve chosen a genre that relies on death.  When I’m

writing a murder scene I never think about my own death.  Perhaps I use

this as a technique to keep death away from me.  It’s very convoluted

if that’s what I’m doing.  And stupid.

Because I’m going

to die.  No matter what I do.  No matter how many times I joke and say

I’m not going.  I’m going.  And so are all the crime writers in the

world.  I think we’re all very strange.

Strange yes, but my own answer is fairly straightforward: death is the ultimate conflict, and conflict is what drives fiction. And sure, no matter what, we’re all destined to circle the drain at some point, but the trick is to embrace life up until that endpoint. Or as Shel Silverstein put it, you better have some fun ‘fore you say bye-bye.