Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Love and Tragedy: Why I write Crime Novels by Vicki Delany

The first two chapters of Among the Departed and some of Vicki’s other books are posted on Vicki’s web page at: . Vicki blogs about the writing life at One Woman Crime Wave (  Find her on Facebook and twitter @vickidelany

Love and Tragedy: Why I write Crime Novels
by Vicki Delany

“When I decided to become a police officer I knew I’d have to deal with the hard side of life. Beaten children, raped women, accident victims, blood and gore.  But that’s not the hardest part, is it? It’s the goddamn tragedy of people’s lives.”
Constable Molly Smith to Sergeant John Winters, Among the Departed.

It’s tragedy, as much as love, that makes the world go round.

And sometimes you can’t tell the two apart.

Which is why I write crime novels.

Mystery novels, or as I prefer to call them, crime novels, are frequently disparaged as not being important or literary. Particularly in Canada, where I live, the very idea of a crime novel being short-listed for an important award would have people rolling in the aisles in laughter.

It seems a strange mind-set to me.

Crime novels, it has been said, show the human psyche under pressure.

Crime novels take (usually) normal people and put them through a heck of a lot.  Some survive, some do not. Physically as well as mentally or morally.

Crime novels allow the reader to ask him or herself: what would I do in this situation? What would I do if this happened to me? How far would I go to save my child/defeat my enemy/get revenge/save myself? What would I do for money/for love?

Would I do the right thing, or would I fail?

Among the Departed concerns a cold case, the discovery of human remains that might belong to one Brian Nowak who disappeared from the mountain town of Trafalgar, British Columbia, fifteen years ago.

The case is very personal to Molly Smith as she, at thirteen years of age, may have been the last person outside of his family to see Nowak alive.

Sadly, we hear about cases like this all the time.  People do disappear, fortunately not as often as TV and books might make us think.  But it does happen and I wanted to explore what the effect would be on those left behind.

What about young children; the disappearance of their father must have a devastating effect on how they see the world. Would they ever dare to fully love?  Would they ever be able to trust? What about the surviving spouse? Can she get on with her life and have some semblance of normality?  Or would the disappearance of her husband chew away at her until there was nothing left?

Molly Smith again: She remembered the Nowak family as being the same as all the other families she’d known, hers included. The tragedy, the simply not knowing, had destroyed them.

It’s through the lens of the crime novel that we can explore people under extreme pressure.  The use of a crime or a mystery allows the author to up the stakes for the characters, but the essential humanity and the complex range of human emotions are what’s all-important.

As well as concerning a missing man and the investigation into his disappearance, Among the Departed is a novel about love. New love, old love, young love, love the second time around. Accepted love and forbidden love.

And fatal love.

Love and death and tragedy. They fit seamlessly together in a crime novel. 

Here are a few photos from Vicki's recent trip to North Carolina

The hat pic shows Vicki Delany, Molly Weston, and Mary Jane Maffini in traditional Canadian head gear.

Vicki Delany dines for the first time on shrimp and grits

Around the table are Elizabeth Duncan, Mary Jane Maffini, and Vicki Delany at Mama Dips Southern restaurant.  
Note the emptiness of the plates.


Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Vicki, Welcome Back!

I'm so glad you included some pictures from your trip to NC. I'm still kicking myself for not being able to meet y'all - maybe next time!

Vicki Delany said...

Next time for sure, Kaye

Anonymous said...

I love Vicki's books and am looking forward to this new adventure with Molly and company. I saw Carolyn Hart at an event the other day and she said that mysteries or crime novels are about fractured relationships - a crime has occurred and caused this fracture and it's about putting the pieces back together. I liked that description.

I also like Vicki's description of them showing the human psyche under pressure. It's why I read crime novels - to gain insight into humanity and also to see good triumph over evil in the end.

Bobbi Mumm said...

Well, I've heard, from a very good source, that Vicki Delany has just arrived here in Saskatoon! And tomorrow night a group of us are going to dine together and then troop over to McNally Robinson Booksellers to Vicki's reading and book signing. Maybe I can get a photo of Vicki in action to send you, Kaye!

May 18, 2011

jenny milchman said...

I couldn't agree more, Vicki--and it shows in every one of your books (that I've read anyway)--crime fiction is a lens over life. The whole range is there in every single book, the best ones anyway. And that roller coaster experience is addictive. So happy to see you again on M&M!

Vicki Delany said...

Thanks Jenny. And thanks Kaye for hosting me.