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.
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?
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.