Writing Those Disturbing Parts

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It’s no secret that there are some unsettling scenes in The Tattooed Heart. and my sister Judy, who’s a diversity consultant up in Rhode Island, called today to ask how on earth I’d managed to write them.

In fact, I just followed the axiom attributed to Red Smith, that “Writing is easy.  You sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”  In my case, tears and scotch were involved as well as blood, and a laptop subbed for the typewriter; but the basic truth he expressed is eternal.

The other truth is that, if I’d thought I had a choice, I wouldn’t have done it.  As a reader, I’m pretty cowardly.  I prefer books where no one you care about gets hurt.  I’m addicted to Jayne Ann Krentz, Nora Roberts, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, for chrissake.  I would never willingly have crafted a novel where my heroine gets run through the wringer, as Gracie does—where this character, who’s essentially me, is haunted, harassed, and chased to hell and back by her own demons, and the ones she meets in human form.

I would certainly not have killed off her lover in Chapter 3 if anyone had asked me what I wanted.

But the bottom line is, nobody asked.

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