NANCY MEHL: Writing About Serial Killers [GUEST POST]

Serial Killer

Why would an inspirational novelist write about a serial killer? Find out in this guest post from Nancy Mehl. (Photo by Giampaolo Macorig, Flickr)

Do serial killers belong in inspirational suspense and mystery? Some say yes, some say no. I just wrote Dark Deception, where I took on a serial killer for the first time. Why? First of all, serial killers exist. We can’t just pretend they don’t. Actually, many writers include serial killers in their novels without assigning them the title. If the bad guy in a mystery or suspense novel kills more than one person, we could call him (or her) a serial killer, couldn’t we? Of course, these villains are usually trying to cover up a crime – they don’t kill for some kind of perverse gratification. But murder is murder, right?

Nancy Mehl's DARK DECEPTION

Bethany House

Years ago I attended a mystery writers’ convention. One of the speakers said something I never forgot. She asked, “What is a mystery novel? It’s the portrayal of good verses evil. And good must win.” Of course, from a Christian perspective, this is something we understand. God verses the devil. Since the devil loves to steal, kill and destroy, we recognize his evil devices at work in the hearts and minds of serial murderers. This realization makes some inspirational writers even more committed to bringing down this particularly destructive criminal. We want to take on the battle. Stop the evil. The appeal is hard for many mystery/suspense writers to ignore.

Another reason many writers find serial killers compelling fodder stems from their distinctive pathology. They are usually triggered by something that happened in their childhoods. They have certain rituals that can’t and won’t be altered. Their victims not only fit a particular criteria, they may also live in certain areas – places where the killer feels comfortable. Understanding how serial killers think helps investigators find them – and stop them. These psychological elements can certainly inspire mystery and suspense writers. We love puzzles, and these criminals are human puzzles. Figuring out their particular patterns and proclivities can be fascinating. Instead of chasing them based on evidence alone, profilers who understand a killer’s particular traits may be able to apprehend them based on research and insight. This is something that occurs with two distinct groups – serial killers and terrorists. In both cases, these vicious individuals usually have no personal reason to kill. Instead, they are driven by hate and a desire to punish people based on their own past experiences or beliefs.

Inspirational fiction may tackle thorny situations and evil villains, but most of us will never write gory or overly violent scenes. Hopefully, my readers know this about my books and will trust me not to take them into situations that would make them uncomfortable. My goal is always to present an exciting and compelling story that will lead them on a great journey. I believe Dark Deception fulfills these goals, and I hope readers will be glad they hopped on board!

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TLC Book Tours Tour HostYou may purchase Dark Deception at any of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Books-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.

Dark Deception is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

 

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About Nancy Mehl
Nancy Mehl is the author of more than twenty books, including the Road to Kingdom and Finding Sanctuary series, and a 2015 finalist for RT Book Reviews' Reviewers' Choice Award. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson.

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