In the unheard screams that rip the fabric of the night, in the silent tears of a victim huddled in upon herself in the corner of her own kitchen, Sketch of a Murder was born.
Domestic violence and rape are patterns of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence.
Once the first seeds of an idea are planted, I begin to research. What I found in the case of Sketch of a Murder was:
One in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.
4 MILION women experience physical assault and rape by their intimate partners http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics–facts-52.html?gclid=CJ6k76f9rcUCFYeEfgodUwYACA
The number of women murdered by current or ex male partners between 2001 and 2012 were 11,766. During that same time period, the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq were 6,488.
FBI Statistics for 2013 for Washington State:
Forcible rapes in seven cities: (these are the ones actually brought to trial. Until conviction, they are only considered alleged rapes) 657.
Rape and domestic violence are among the most under-reported crimes. Frequently, women internalize the blame for being beaten and sexually assaulted. Shame and a sense of hopelessness; a fear of the abuser increasing the abuse; a fear that there is no way to escape; fear of reprisal against them or their family, seals their lips against reporting the crimes.
When the crimes are reported, the woman often finds herself grilled as if she is the perpetrator–what did you do to anger him; why were you wearing that slutty dress; isn’t it true that you’ve slept with other men; how many other men; how long did you know X before you invited him to your home; and the interrogations go on and on.
If the crime does go to trial, the woman’s ordeal is increased. She is placed on the stand and forced to testify to humiliating and painful memories in a hostile environment. She is cross-examined as if she is the defendant. Evidence can be difficult to collect or has been contaminated; the woman waited too long to report the crime; the woman’s character is put on trial; the trial becomes a “he said–she said” fiasco. Technicalities and good attorneys allow men to smile as they walk away unscathed after perpetrating horrible crimes that will scar their victims forever.
With research as a foundation, I begin a process of creative “what-ifs”. What if a person decided to take justice into their own hands? What motivates a person to seek violent revenge? What type of personality would such revenge require? What type of training would a person need to be successful? What type of tools would that person have to use?
From this process, the Avenger sprang. In Sketch of a Murder, the Avenger has been triggered by a life event to exact justice. After the first murder, the Avenger goes on a spree of gruesome killings. The Avenger, however, doesn’t simply pick guilty men who have skated on serious charges; the Avenger wreaks havoc among wealthy men who have used position and power and monetary advantage to walk free.
Now that I have the antagonist–or the bad person and that person’s motivation–I must decide who will oppose this person and why; who will be the protagonist.
Some crimes are far reaching enough to warrant the formation of a Task Force. Again the creative “what-ifs” are employed. What if a task force is created by the governor because the Avenger has eluded multiple police forces and the deaths of wealthy men negatively impact her position? What if the task force is not constrained by jurisdictional boundaries within the state? What if the best cops for that force are misfits, cops that have ticked off a superior because they refused to toe the blue line? What special attitudes and abilities would they bring to the story? What conflicts with each other would such renegade team members face?
The Special Crimes Team was born from the governor’s desperation to find and stop the Avenger. Purely a political move, or was it?
All books need a place of occurrence. Whether that physical place plays a large or a small part in the story depends upon the story. The state of Washington is blessed, and cursed, with features that attract the best of people, and the worst of people. Mountains, wilderness, farmlands, big cities, airports, seaports, railway stations, high immigrant and migrant worker populations, a diverse and mobile population, a down turn in the economy that resulted in foreclosed and abandoned homes, proximity to another country’s border and a general attitude of live and let live makes this state a haven for human traffickers, dog fighters, kidnappers, and other criminals who need unlimited places in which to blend and/or to use to escape.
With those elements–the crime, the antagonist, the protagonist, the scene and some of the complications–in place, the work of writing begins.
The first draft is written without concern for grammar, punctuation, or even logic and timelines. It is the story in the rough. After the first draft comes multiple drafts, each one refining the story, further developing the characters, fleshing out the scenes, fine tuning the dialogue, checking and fixing the timeline; and, reassessing the logic and the story arc. When I decide the story is finished, I begin editing. After I edit as much as I can, I send the work to others to edit. When that work is returned, I read the feedback and evaluate what changes must be made.
After editing, Beta Readers are engaged to comment on the story as readers–did it hook them; did the dialogue sound real; were the situations believable, and so forth. With that feedback, I make final corrections then send the book to the publisher.
The publisher obtains a cover, formats the book and puts the package together for presentation to the public. And, a book is born.
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