Not long ago, I was reading a “feel good” British rom-com/chick-lit novel that was filled with charm, sunshine, and sea breezes.
And then the dog died. Hit by a car in front of the hero and heroine while they were canoodling.
That’ll teach ’em to lock lips.
Needless to say, I nearly threw the book across the room with considerable violence. Except with my iffy aim, I thought I might kill my dog, who slept innocently in his hairy dog bed. In Maggie Robinson Fantasyland, dogs do not die in books. No cats, either, or, God absolutely forbid, kids. Certainly not in rom-com/chick-lit books, which are designed to transport you away from the vagaries of real life into pre-pandemic quaint English seaside villages with waterfront tearooms run by quirky-yet-wise grannies who help the hero and heroine find true love after a lot of secrets, lies, and misunderstandings.
Even though I write mysteries, they are not at all suspenseful or bloody or threatening to most fluffy creatures. I just can’t. I learned long ago my anxiety reaches absurd heights at the slightest provocation. There is not enough Lisinopril in the world to bring my blood pressure down. I’ve been to movies where my eyes were closed most of the time and I had to read the plot synopsis on IMDb. I once tried to read a medical procedural by a super-famous acclaimed author that began in a morgue and after three pages had to bail as the M.E. sliced into the corpse with much gusto and gore. I have never seen Clarice Starling in any incarnation. No Halloween franchise. Even this cute picture of my grandson as a zombie soccer player is unsettling.
So, I am a total wuss. I don’t mind killing off bad or inconsequential fictional characters—mostly off the page—but the thought of a child or animal in peril just slays me. There is too much horror in real life without inviting it into my Kindle for bedtime reading.
However, I’m aware readers expect some tension and excitement toward the end of a book, and I’ve forced myself to comply. So far, my heroine Lady Adelaide has dodged a bullet at teatime, driven around with a murderer in the rain with the top down, tumbled her Rolls Royce down an embankment, and…well, that’s a surprise for the last book in the series, Farewell Blues, out in September.
Are you a scaredy cat too? What movie or book freaked you out?
Maggie Robinson is a former teacher, library clerk, and mother of four who woke up in the middle of the night, absolutely compelled to create the perfect man and use as many adjectives and adverbs as possible doing so. A transplanted New Yorker, she lives with her not-quite perfect husband in Maine, where the cold winters are ideal for staying inside and writing historical mysteries and romances. A two-time Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice nominee, her books have been translated into French, German, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian, Japanese, Thai, Dutch, and Italian. Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime and Maine Romance Writers.