The first two chapters of Among the Departed and some of Vicki’s other books are posted on Vicki’s web page at: www.vickidelany.com . Vicki blogs about the writing life at One Woman Crime Wave (http://klondikeandtrafalgar.blogspot.com). Find her on Facebook www.facebook.com/vicki.delany 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.