I remember the very first inkling. At about age sixteen I walked into a room, spied a heavy candlestick, and exclaimed, while pointing, "That would make a great murder weapon.”
Lost in my fantasy of discovering a killer, I didn't notice that my friends cast furtive glances at each other and backed away from me after they heard my words.
WEAPONS IN THE GAME OF CLUE
Together with my three cousins in my hometown, I continued to play the board game of Clue on Sunday afternoons after the family lunches that invariably followed church services. I kept reading murder mysteries, too. After I finished all the Nancy Drew books, I moved on to more grown up volumes. My parents read plenty of fiction, and my father liked who-done-it's, so lots of books were available at our home.
In my last year of high school, I repeated my performance and again noted a hefty candlestick. "What a dandy murder weapon that would make," I explained while eying a massive version placed on a railing in my church sanctuary.
"What's wrong with you?" Nancy said. "Are you going to grow up to be a killer or something? You hardly seem the type."
One other friend snickered, but Glenda came to my defense. "Don't be silly. She's just indulging in make believe."
Back then I didn't make much of these incidents. They did, however, stick in my mind, and once I began writing mysteries, I looked back and wondered if these were portents of things to come. I just had not recognized them as such at the time.
After all, I never heard one other person utter anything similar to my remarks. That is, not until decades later when I began to attend conferences for mystery writers. Not only was such talk common among those authors, but whole panels were held that discussed how to commit murder, how to get away with it, and how to find the perpetrator. Moreover, a few pathologists were always available to advise on just the right poison to fit a writer's plot circumstances. I picked up specific details too that would make a scene accurate. Did you know that if you hanged your victim, his or her head would always, always tilt to one side? If you see a corpse in a film whose head hangs straight down, that is a big mistake.
I had found my tribe. Oddly enough, the crime writing and fan community is a great bunch of people. They are kind and help one another. It is a truism that people who write about murders, day in and day out, are as a group one of the nicest you can ever meet.
How about it? Can you also look back on your life and pick out a moment that suggested what you would do "when you grew up?" I would love to hear about it.
Award-winning author Kay Kendall is passionate about historical mysteries. She lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, two house rabbits, and spaniel Wills.
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