Let me start by saying I have the most open-minded, supportive and brilliant mom in history. She spent my childhood blindly supporting my bizarre exploits, ridiculous hobbies, and most importantly my writing.
I was in writing classes with adults at ten. In professional script-writing classes with performing arts professionals at twelve. And during all that time, not one complaint, eye-roll or judgment.
But she still can’t read my books.
Reason #1: My characters have sex
And think about sex. And think about sex while having sex. They notice how legs feel when clasped up against their naked asses and they think about the feeling that comes with each thrust . . . okay, you get the point.
Here’s the thing. My mom knows about sex. I know about sex. My mom knows that I know about sex. I don’t need my mom reading what I write about sex.
Reason #2: My characters kill people
I spend a great deal of time closing my eyes and wondering how it feels to be stabbed… or better yet, to stab. I know, for example, it’s harder than it sounds. Especially if you are using the chef knives I fail to sharpen in my kitchen.
Killing is messy. You have to think through the process. What is going on physically, sight/sounds. What is going on in the head of the killer? Of the one being killed? What’s it like to take a final breath? How does it feel to watch somebody take a breath you took? Are bad guys soft at the moment of death? Do they have regrets? They have to clean up the mess, think about the consequences.
Then there’s the shooting. And the car crashing. Firing pistols at advancing enemies. You know, action-flick stuff.
I know, that at some point, the reader is thinking the author is a psychopath when reading some scenes. We’re not, for the record. We just like to imagine so that we can bring a dose of reality to our story. We have to think about the messiness of murder, or the suffocation of death, or the logistics of handling a dead body.
See, I know the types of books my mom likes. And the movies. She likes to cry because of an exceedingly sweet thing someone did for a lifelong love. She doesn’t want to see a secret society warrior blast down a bad guy with a Tommy Gun. Unfortunately, those are the types of books her son writes.
Reason #3: My books don’t care about heart strings
And my mom does. So maybe I should, too. But really, I’m after a formula that drives characters into plots. I like action on pages, propelling so quickly that it’s like watching a movie. I am, admittedly, very plot-focused and my characters are along for the ride.
Frankly, my wife writes the sorts of books my mom reads, because she is more interested in the characters than the plot.
But, I guess, that’s just not what I produce. Maybe, I should be a good son and write a book my mom would like. But then I wouldn’t have any car chases. And I really, really like car chases.
Sorry, Mom. I appreciate that you want to read them, and I love that you’ve supported my craft all these years. But really … you don’t have to.