CHRIS CARTER asks Why Do I Write Crime Fiction?

Written by Mike Stotter

chris carterThe truth is that I had never planned on writing a book. 

I never thought about a career in writing and I never spent any time thinking up stories or developing characters in my head that I would one day want to write about.  My submersion into the world of books - writing books that is - came out of a dream I had back in 2007. 


I’ve been an insomniac for many years.  I don’t have a problem falling asleep.  My problem is staying asleep.  I usually fall asleep quite quickly and I will stay that way for an hour, maybe two, before waking up for the first time during the night.  From then on it’s stop and start traffic all the way to the morning - sleep for three quarters of an hour, wake up for five minutes.  Sleep for an hour, wake up for another five minutes - and so on.  It’s quite a torturous process, believe me.  There are rare occasions when I manage to stay asleep for about six hours straight, and it was during one of those rare, uninterrupted-sleepfull nights that I had this quite bizarre dream.  One of the reasons that made it so unusual was the fact that it played out in my head like a plausible story, with a beginning, a middle and an end.  My dreams are never that coherent.  Now, when considering that I am a crime thriller writer, here is odd part number one – the story I dreamt about that night was not a crime thriller story, far from it actually.


Odd part number two - in the morning I could recall all of it – something else that rarely happens to me.


The fact that I could recall my dream in its entirety, kind of made me wonder, so as nothing more than just “conversation” topic, I mentioned it to my girlfriend at the time.  She asked me to tell her the story in my dream, which I did.  It took me about ten minutes to run her through the whole story, and maybe I should call this - “odd part number three” – but the story didn’t bore her at all, on the contrary, it made her look at me and say - ‘You know what, Chris?  You should write that story down.  It’s a good idea.  And I really like the twist at the end.’


Odd part number four – my reply to her was - ‘You know what? I think I will.’  This coming from someone who had zero experience in writing.  I mean, I had never even written a short story in my life.


The next morning, against all odds, I stayed true to my word.  I sat at my computer and I wrote the first chapter to this bizarre story I had dreamt about the night before.  Once I got to the end of that chapter, I thought to myself – ‘This is kind of crazy.  Never in my life had I contemplated the idea of writing a book, or even a short story, for that matter, but If I’m going to put time and effort into doing such a thing, due to my background in Criminal Behavior Psychology, I could probably come up with a much more interesting plot for a psychological thriller than I could for any other genre.’


I had finally started thinking logically.


So, with my brain now awake at last, I decided that instead of moving onto chapter two, I would also try to write the first chapter to a crime thriller story, or novel, or whatever it was that I was doing.  Let me add here that unlike the story in my dream, I had no plot in my head whatsoever for a crime thriller story.  I simply wrote something that I thought it would make a good opening for a crime thriller book.


The next day I gave both chapters to my girlfriend and asked her to give me her truthful opinion. 


‘I’m not very much into detective stories,’ she said, after reading both chapters.  ‘But I must admit that the crime thriller chapter is a lot more exciting than the other one.’


And that was it, a decision was made right there and then.  Crime thriller it was to be.


Back then I was in full time employment with a computer software company, so I could only write in the evenings and sometimes – not always – on the weekends.  For several months I wrote without a complete plot in my head.  The more I wrote, the more ideas I got.  One chapter led to the other, which in turn, led to the other, and so on.  Ten months later I finished TheCrucifix Killer.


So, I guess that the answer to the question – why do I write crime fiction is – because of my background in Criminal Behavior Psychology and all my experiences working with the police in that field.


The answer to the question – why do I write at all is – because of a crazy dream I had one night.

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The Caller


Chris Carter

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