An Ode to Crime Writers’ Kids

Hey all. Gerry Boyle here. Today is my son’s birthday. He’s my youngest: 22, a senior in college. We have a good time.  Watching sports. Fishing. Shooting guns. Driving his vintage El Camino muscle car. Just talking. I even turned him on to Ken Bruen’s books.

Good times.

So this day has me thinking of my kids, and since this is a blog about crime writing, I’m thinking of crime writers’ kids. This is a rather unusual thing that we writers do and our kids have some unusual experiences, I’m sure. (I invite my fellow crime writers to weigh in).

I’ll start things off going back to a time when one of my three kids (things run together a bit so I’m not sure which one; if you’re a parent you understand) was in kindergarten and they were talking about their parents’ jobs. Boys and girls  went around the circle saying what their parents did for work: mechanic, secretary, doctor, truck driver. As the teacher reported later, then it was my child’s turn.

Teacher: “What do your parents do?”

Crime writer’s child: “My mom is a teacher and my dad is a typer.”

That was what they knew way back when, that Mom went to school and dad sat in his study and typed. A lot. They vaguely knew there were books coming out the pipeline but they didn’t know what they were about until …

I remember my oldest daughter coming home from sixth grade and announcing, “Susie is reading one of your books.”

My heart stopped.

“Which one?” I said.

She told me. I started running through the pages, trying to recall the sex scenes (occasional).  The violence (not so occasional).  The profanity (not occasional at all). “She’s reading it now? At home?”

I pictured parents meeting with the teacher. Awkward moments at soccer games. Cold stares at the post office.

But if Susie could read my books, what of my own kids?

When kids go to Paris, they find cops for Dad

So then your eldest reads one of your books. Child No. 2, not to be outdone, demands to read one, too. And you thought it was weird when your mother read your sex scenes …

Of course, your kids are more ready for all of this than you think. And the years fly by, book after book, birthday after birthday. Kids read the books. They opine on the characters, who they like, who they don’t. You watch and wait for reactions. You see them become part of the process. When I began writing about Brandon Blake, a 20-something boat bum in Portland harbor, I ran the dialogue by my own 20-somethings. Most of it passed youthful muster.  Some was lame, as in, “She would never say that!”

Now the “typer” dad has three good readers. When they travel, they write back saying, “Dad. We saw this place that was totally dangerous. You would have loved it.”

I have three loyal fans. Kids who have my books on the shelf in their apartments. A son who starred in a book trailer (he was a gun-toting thug on the streets of Portland).  A daughter who forwards me crime stories. Even a collaboration project, with a daughter meeting with detectives in her home city, saying, “My dad is a mystery writer and we’re working on a book. …”

For a typer, it doesn’t get any better than this.


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13 Responses to An Ode to Crime Writers’ Kids

  1. Deanna says:

    Isn’t it great when they grow up!!! Dee

  2. One of my all-time favorite photos is of my eldest and youngest both reading A HOUSE TO DIE FOR on the eldest’s sailboat. As a writer and a mom, it doesn’t get much better than that!

  3. thelma straw says:

    This was a fun read – I LOVE my dad is a typer!!!!! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  4. Barbara Ross says:

    Both my kids are writers. It’s reading their writing that excites me. My daughter just turned in her masters thesis at London Met and I had the privilege of reading three brilliant short stories along with her commentary.

  5. MCWriTers says:

    Now that my son and his wife have a house, they want a shelf of all my books. Very flattering. Years ago, though, my younger son, then about 13, started one of my books. When I asked how it was going, he said he’d stopped reading. “You have to understand, mom,” he said, “no thirteen-year-old boy can read a book written by his mother that has sex in it.”

  6. MoW says:

    When my son was in preschool, he wanted me to come talk about my job writing for newspapers. But preschool kids don’t read newspapers, so they were disappointed I didn’t write books. (They might have been mildly impressed if my photo had been in the paper.) They didn’t care about Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. The two things they probably remember about me are 1) I somehow dropped my keys inside the car when I put my younger son in his carseat, then locked the door, so the fire department came to the school to get him out, and 2) I was followed by McGruff the Crime Dog.

    Now I’ve published short stories, which they critique for me, and they regularly give me crime-related reference and how-to books for gifts.One of my sons writes fantasy and is revising his first novel manuscript.

  7. Pamela Oberg says:

    I love this. How delightful to have such a supportive posse, keeping things real. My daughter recently asked her father, “why does someone die in every book Mommy reads?” Wait until she finds out what I’m writing! (She’s only nine.)

  8. Joan Emerson says:

    Okay, now and ever hereafter you are going to be known as “a typer” . . . what a great story!

    It’s always a good thing when your children appreciate and support you, and the work that you do.

  9. lil Gluckstern says:

    Charming. Isn’t it great when the kids recognize what you do?

  10. Brenda says:

    An interesting tale. Thanks! Reminds me of a question I have been meaning to ask — do your children and other relatives put your books on their Facebook pages and does that have any impact if they do?

    • Barb Ross says:

      Hi Brenda

      I’ve noticed that when I can get my twenty-something to post ANYTHING about what I’m doing on her Facebook page it has a huge impact. I call her the person who’s never lost a friend–need to find a dancing school friend, camp buddy, kid you worked that first summer job with? They’re all at her fingertips.

    • Gerry Boyle says:

      Yes, Brenda. They share on Facebook and retweet my tweets. My son saw the post because one of his college buddies follows me on Twitter. Hard to quantify impact but it has to help.

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