A friend posted a picture on Facebook of a heron that he said looked like a murderbird plotting a murder. ‘Whoa,’ I commented, ‘I thought I was the murderbird plotting murders. Is that bird gonna write my books now?’


No, seriously. I do slip a lot of dark into my young adult stories and my adult thrillers, including murder, unintentional killing, suicide, and other vicious betrayals of and by mankind.


I ask myself that question with every new story and usually end up blaming my muse, even if I know, deep down, that I must have a dark and ruthless streak or his ideas and inspiration wouldn’t strike a chord.

For what it’s worth, I never set out to write about death. I do know that a story will be dark and more often than not death crops up. That happens mostly when I’m plotting the story and often in what I used to call my ‘but what if…’ phase and now call my ‘push the envelop!’ phase. It’s when I force my thinking past my personal limits and boundaries, when I put all civility aside.

Other times I realize during writing the first draft that the story needs more drastic action to raise the stakes for my protagonist. And is there anything more drastic than death?


But… that’s water under the bridge now. The heron has taken over and left me contemplating my future.



Shall I set sail? Or did I just think up a thrilling new death?