I suppose all fictional characters, especially in adventure or heroic fiction, at the end of the day are our dreams about ourselves. And sometimes they can be really revealing.
- Alan Moore
Dana Bowman sits before me, sketch pad and charcoal in hand. She is going to give me the third-degree interview.
Dana: I understand you and my brother Bast share a career background.
Me: Journalistic, yes. I am a former journalist for 30 years, so a bit longer than your twin. I did write a few crime-related articles but my beats were the arts, health, seniors, and profiles of all kinds of people.
Dana: How and why did you switch from journalism to mystery fiction?
Me: That’s really two questions. First, the journalism one – it wasn’t really a switch. I just got tired of all the work for newspaper and magazine stories for little pay. Guess I ran out of steam but I am still interested in people and writing their stories, so profiles aren’t off the table completely.
Dana: But why mystery fiction?
Me: Because that’s what I like to read and watch on TV. I grew up with Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and from age 12, Agatha Christie. And my late mom and I used to watch the Perry Mason TV series – the original one in black and white. From all that I got hooked on the puzzle – why people do what they do, why it brings them to murder and who the heck is the guilty party. I also have a sense of justice – people who do the crime should do the time – in one way or another. That doesn’t seem to be happening anymore in real life, even back in your days in the late 1990s.
Dana: As Bast would say, let the record show, that Sharon is referring to the timelines in Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. So, Sharon, can you tell us how you, well created Bast and I? Are you and I similar in any way?
Me: That’s two questions again. I see that’s how you operate.
Dana: You started it all.
Dana: How are we similar? Especially with our height.
Me: Yes, you and I are shorties, but I have a couple of inches on you.
Dana: Why did you make me 4’11”? Couldn’t you have brought me up to 5 feet at least?
Me: Too close to me. Actually the idea of both yours and Bast’s height came from an aunt and uncle on my dad’s side. Aunt Marguerite was 4’ll” and Uncle Miles was 6’2” But I did give Bast an inch. But I gave you some qualities and traits I don’t have. You own and drive a car. I couldn’t drive a car to save my life.
Dana: Would you want to?
Me: Very occasionally but seldom. I know I would be guilty of roadkill, so it’s safer if I’m never behind the wheel of a car. Also you have a cell phone and I don’t. Sure, it would come in handy in emergencies but cell phone technology is a whole lot more complicated in 2014 than in the late 1990s. And I gave you the gift of being able to draw because I can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler.
Dana: A little jealousy here?
Me. Maybe, but I wanted you different than I. And you and your brother evolved over 15 or 16 years of on and off writing, now definitely in the on stage.
Dana: And Bast? Why did you make him gay?
Me: Because when I first started writing Beyond Blood back in the late 1990s, gay people were just coming out more. The annual Pride parade was just starting up in Toronto. And I wanted a character that was different than what was being published. I know there are now gay (male and female) mystery characters, but how many of them are a fraternal twin?
Dana: True. What about my son David? Where did he come from?
Me: Well, I do have a son, who is now in his mid-thirties and I too was a single parent, so I suppose some of that originated there. And I had issues with being a working mom and wanted to bring that out in the stories.
Dana: Okay. Now, moving along. You mentioned that you want justice done in this world. Is there anything in your background, particularly when growing up, that made you feel this way?
Me: Several things. I was bullied as a child by both one of my best friends and also by a nun in grade school. Never beaten up – it was more verbal. Also I read a lot in the newspapers about 11 and 12-year-old girls getting murdered and that really upset me. I was the same age then. You have to remember this was around 1960 when things were supposedly stricter. Well, they were at school and church – I grew up a Catholic and so there was this belief in the bad being punished for their bad deeds, even an eye for an eye. So, if you killed someone, you deserved to die. But Canadian justice seemed to be getting too liberal. Many convicted murderers were getting their executions (hanging in Canada back then) stayed. I remember in grade 11 at high school class discussion on capital punishment – it was around the time that the government was considering dropping the hanging sentence. I was one of the few in the class who wanted Canada to keep the death penalty. We all know that didn’t happen and a lot of the criminal law got too much in favour of the criminals since then. Sure, some harsh sentences remain, but the convicted killers get jail credit for time spent in prison leading up to and during the trial. The bottom line is I don’t think justice for the victim is being given. But in a mystery novel you can have this happen – one way or the other – even with any lenient laws.
Dana: Wow. That sounds familiar. That’s me; that’s how I feel. And now understand better why I do what I do.
Me: Well, remember I may have created you, but you go out on your own in my stories.
Dana: Oh, so you give me enough rope to hang…. sorry, bad choice of words.
Me: Right. We don’t want you getting killed. It would kill the stories.
Dana: Of course. And I thought it was because you like me.
Me: I do.
Dana: Okay, that’s it for this time. Bast wants to interview you next week.
Meantime click on my book cover above – it will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.
And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.
Sharon A. Crawford