Morals, Bedtime Stories and Crime…Oh My!
Today we have best-selling mystery and suspense author Kathy Bennett guest blogging with us. Kathy spent twenty-one years as a police officer with the LAPD, and draws on her career experience to write her ‘arresting’ stories. Her latest book, A Deadly Justice, was released in September 2013. Welcome, Kathy!
Thanks, Leigh, and thanks to everyone here at Fierce Romance!
At bedtime when I was a little girl, my mother would read me a story from a book of fairy tales, or relate a story she'd been told by her parents as a little girl. Who could forget The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Little Red Hen, or the Emperor's New Clothes? Every story had a purpose or a lesson.
That fact would be summarized at the end of the story when my mother would say, "The End." Then she'd pause, look at me intently and say, "And the MORAL of the story is…" and then I'd be expected to tell her the lesson I'd learned from the tale she'd just read. Usually I was successful in reciting what I'd learned.
So now, as someone who makes up her own stories, it doesn't come as a big surprise to me that there are little lessons or things to be learned in my books. I'm not talking about the police jargon or procedures I sprinkle into my stories, and I'm not talking about research I've done about a particular location or profession.
No, I'm talking about the predicaments my characters face. I try to make those circumstances as authentic as I can. Usually, the situations are crime-related, and I hope that my readers will put themselves in the character's positions. That way, the reader can think about what they'd do if they experienced the same dilemmas.
In my second book, A Deadly Blessing, I had a sixteen-year-old girl get drugged and kidnapped from an unsupervised party. In a review of the book, one reader stated she'd used the events in my book to open a discussion with her teenage children about the dangers they might face when out with their friends.
In my most recent release, A Deadly Justice, I have a teenage female character struggle with what to do about a boss who is sexually harassing her. Additionally, in the same book, there is a subtle message for parents: Don't be so busy with your own lives that you only go through the motions with your children, while you have no clue what your kids are doing.
I don't intentionally put these examples or warnings in my book. They just grow from the plot. Of course, it's my hope that my characters and the situations they face permeate the reader's mind and get them thinking about the consequences of their actions…or inaction.
Is it my duty to subtly educate my readers? No. Is it necessary to my stories that I try to enlighten the people who buy my books? No. So why does my subconscious seem to turn my tales into learning adventures? Maybe because I suspect most parents today aren't telling bedtimes stories to their children – and I believe they should. What do you think?
Oh, and the moral of this story is…once you've been a cop for over twenty years, it's hard to break the habit of trying to protect people from the evil in the world.