24 December 2011

Tom Mach Guest Blog!

Please welcome back Tom Mach, who I'm offering a second day since I forgot to previously post his blog. Without further ado:

How I Let My Imagination Run Wild With My Murder Mystery

by Tom Mach

I think writing is the only profession where you can literally get away with murder without fear of being arrested. I don’t know if this is true for other authors, but when I wrote An Innocent Murdered, I got into the heart and mind of each major character, including the murderer herself. I could sense the anger building up in her heart as she confronted the priest in the rectory….

She slipped the Smith & Wesson into her pocket and removed a knife from her bag. “There’s nothing to talk about, you son of a bitch.”

He dropped his hands for a moment. “Please let me at least say a prayer.”

“Go ahead and beg for God’s mercy, you pervert!”

He made the sign of the cross with his crucifix. “Oh my God,” he muttered, “I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.”

His squeal vibrated across the room as she slashed his throat. After his body slumped to the floor, she plunged the knife into his abdomen. He made a gagging sound from his throat as if he were drowning in his own blood. She plunged the knife into him again. And again. And again.

As I wrote this scene I could feel the weight of the gun as I returned it to the bag I carried and I took a good look at the sharp knife I removed. I could sense his entire body shaking and when I slashed his throat it felt as if I were carving up a turkey. My anger rose as I continued to stab him. After this scene, I had to take a break and regain my sanity before returning to my computer to type more.

It was rather interesting for me to pretend to be a woman in An Innocent Murdered.  To do this, however, I had to draw on whatever experiences I had with women involved in different lifestyles. Take, for instance, a former nun named Susan Stratford, who plays an important part in An Innocent Murdered because she helps Matt solve a cold case involving the murder of a child 25 years ago. Since I attended a Catholic elementary school, I knew several nuns and today I know a couple of nuns who go to my church. I became familiar with the daily routine they need to go through, and even though Susan is no longer a nun, she still has strong religious convictions. Imagine her dilemma, then, when Susan confesses to Matt that she was a virgin for 46 years and has never even seen a naked man before, and wants the experience of sexual intercourse. When Matt disrobes for her she still evokes memories from her past about her intense feelings for God….

Her face turned crimson as she stroked his penis while touching his testicles. “I’m sorry, Matt. I’m probably embarrassing you by doing this.”

“No, not all.”

She looked up at him. “From what I’ve read, these testicles create the sperm while the penis ejaculates it into a woman’s vagina to create life. It’s wonderful the way God designed man for procreation. Isn’t it?”

“I can’t argue with that.”

She noticed his penis beginning to grow as she fondled it. “I mean, God produces human life from life. We’re all participants in the act of creation.”

“If feels as if I’m in a religion class right now.”

“Sorry. I can’t help but see God in everything.”

When I wrote about Susan, I felt her dilemma and guilt about satisfying her curiosity while being convinced she was sinning. One thing I’ve learned is that women tend to be much more involved and interested in relationships than in the sex act itself. Therefore, when Heather, an African-American woman with whom Matt wants to have sex with talks to him, she is much more interested in knowing about his ex-wife and his son Billy….

“Was your ex also an African-American woman?” Heather asks.

“Yeah. She was an oboist with the Arkansas Symphony. Also taught music. But she had an ego larger than a full orchestra.”

Heather cocked her head in curiosity. “What was it like for Billy to be biracial—I mean to have a black mother and a white father? Did he have problems with his school friends? Did people see him differently?”

“Not at all. Billy grew up in the eighties. By then folks were far more tolerant than they used to be. I’d say he had a pretty normal life—but a short one, of course.”

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up. It must have been agonizing to lose a son at such an early age.”

“No need to apologize. Bad things sometimes happen to people.”

It became painfully quiet for a moment, but Heather laughed lightly to ease the tension. “You seem to have a fixation for black women.”

Initially, I had difficulty getting into the skin and mind of Detective Matt Gunnison. When I first wrote about him he was just a detective solving a case. But in my heart and mind he was much more than that.  I finally began to identify with him when I made him a full human being, complete with a horrible event from the past which soured him, his love for kids, his tenderness to people such as Susan, the former nun, his anger at Heather for using him, his intuitive sense in trying to solve the case, and his intense sorrow at learning how and why an eight-year-old girl was murdered 25 years ago.

I love it when my imagination runs wild and different characters form in my head and develop a personality of their own. During the time I am writing about a particular character I feel as if I am magically transformed into being that character. It’s fun being a person with a different background, a different perspective, and a different gender and race. But I’m so glad that when I actually see myself stabbing a victim, I am not brought up on charges of murder. This is because writers have a lot of freedom. It reminds me of the story of the pope, the president, and a writer in the same canoe when it capsizes. With the island too far from shore, neither the pope nor the president can save themselves, but the writer simply walks on water and arrives safely at the island. How is that possible?

Anything is possible with creative writing—even first-degree murder!


Tom Mach’s Bio

Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011.Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.

His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants. His website is: www.TomMach.com He also has a popular blog for writers of both prose and verse at http://tommach.tumblr.com

Book Blurb:
Father O'Fallon has been murdered, and police officer Jacinta Perez is arrested and charged. Detective Matt Gunnison, however, is not convinced and with the help of Susan, an ex-nun, he discovers a fascinating link between the priest's death and the death of a child 25 years ago. Will Matt be able to solve both murders? See video: http://t.co/H1siZOg


Catherine Lee said...

That excerpted scene between Susan and Matt is just kind of creepy. Did you intend that?


award-winning writer said...

Catherine Lee--

I didn't intend for that scene to be "creepy." I felt strongly that a woman who never had any sexual education and knew virtually nothing about sex for 46 years might be curious as to what she had missed all those years. You have to put yourself in her shoes...She had never even SEEN a man's body before and all she knows at this point is a vague theory of reproduction. To top it off, she's lived her life visualizing the beauty of God in everything. I think this attitude is consistent with this scene, don't you think--or not? Let me know.

award-winning writer said...

Catherine Lee--

By the way, I saw an impressive list of blogs you follow. Would you mind adding one or two or my blogs to that list? They are:
Prose & Verse World


Tom Mach's Blog

Catherine Lee said...

Hi Tom...I could certainly see how Susan would be curious, but I can't see her saying that. It's just weird!

I do follow a lot of authors' blogs...mostly via GFC or Goodreads. I didn't see that option on either of yours!


marybelle said...

I'm enjoying the to-ing & fro-ing here in the comments. It's not a scene I am comfortable with.