Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How Writing Ruined My Wife—Public Conversations have become a Minefield filled with Murder, Mayhem and Imaginary People

by Kirk Melson

I used to love taking my wife out to eat. It was always a carefree time when we could visit about what was going on in our lives, share our dreams and our struggles.

Then she began to write…fiction.

And the carefree quickly morphed into the socially awkward. Oh we still discussed our dreams and our struggles and what was going on in our lives, but the stories she was (and still is) writing began to intrude.

I’ve always loved her book ideas and personally I think she’s a genius writer. And I’m NOT saying that because she’s my wife. She’s really good. She writes the kind of books I like to read—scifi and mystery/suspense—the kind of books a man can sink his teeth into.
And as an engineer I’m fascinated by the process. I still marvel at how her mind comes up with this stuff! But that’s also the challenging part for eating out…in public. Contrary to what I thought about fiction writers, these books don’t just spring forth fully formed. There are hundreds (sometimes thousands) of little details to be ironed out before everything fits together just right.

Details like how to murder someone. Or how to make her characters act right. I mean really, they’re imaginary characters. I would have thought they’d have been easy to control.

As usual, I was dead wrong.

And meal times seems to be when Edie is most comfortable discussing these problems with me. I’m flattered really. I can’t imagine why she’d think I’d have any insight into the challenges she’s facing.

And I can assure you, I do NOT have any experience in murdering someone.

But that doesn’t stop conversations like this from occurring at our favorite restaurants.

“I need your help with an issue I’m having with my antagonist.” An innocent enough way to start dinner conversation.

“Sure. How can I help?” I want to support her anyway possible. What else could I say?

“Well, we need to plan a murder.” She says it so matter of factly, like it’s a common topic of conversation.

I notice a few people glance our way, like they’re certain they couldn’t have heard that correctly.

“Are you sure you want to talk about that here?” I can see it coming, but can’t stop it or even get out of the way.

“Why not? We’re alone, no kids. What could be better?”

What indeed? “Okay, shoot.”

She frowns. “No, I need something more original than just shooting or stabbing someone. It’s got to be unique, and hard to solve.”

No those around us have stopped eating, some mid bite. My only thought is to get this topic finished and on to another one before someone calls the police. “I have to admit I can’t imagine. Maybe some kind of poison.”

“That sounds like a possibility, maybe something slipped into her food or drink.” She stares into space for a moment then smiles. “When I get home I’ll research some poisons and see if that helps.”

Then she’s off chatting about another subject.

I on the other hand am signaling to the waiter for the check. I want to be long gone before the police arrive.

Has this happened to anyone else out there? Give a struggling spouse some perspective!


  1. Picturing this conversation in a fine dining restaurant, or even at Applebees, brings great images to mind. Kind of like a suspense movie. What fun!

    1. I always thought it was fun too. I think maybe Kirk has another opinion! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  2. Oh my gosh. Wouldn't you LOVE to be a fly on the wall to watch Edie's eyes sparkle and Kirk squirm in his seat? Oh, and to be the 911 dispatcher, and the detectives who will be assigned to stake out the Melson household, tap their phones and secure the search warrant for her computer to find out just what poisons Edie plans to use.

    1. You definitely would have gotten a kick out of it! Blessings, E

  3. When I researched my first book, I decided I needed to talk to a policeman in the city where the story was set. So I called, made a lunch appointment with him and we met at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Memphis. And for over an hour, we talked about how to get away with murder, how to murder someone...

  4. LOL.My dh and I have had similar conversations while out walking in our neighborhood. Whenever we are close enough for people to hear I also inject something about how would I write . . .

  5. A friend of mine and I were at a bus stop discussing a story in which one of the main characters had, many years in the past, kidnapped an orphan and changed his name in order to smuggle him into the United States, saving his life from the people who had killed his parents and attempted to kill him. She and I were discussing in great detail how to accomplish this so the child would have a birth certificate and a social security number when he got older.

    That's when I realized we were getting horrified stares. I'm a dark-haired, dark-eyed caucasian, and she is black. My toddler son was with me, and at the time he had platinum-blond hair and bright blue eyes. Plus, his facial features resembled his father rather than me.

    I'm surprised one of them didn't turn us in for kidnapping.

  6. There was the time during my daughter's spring break when we drove around Estes Park trying to figure out where a car could careen off the road, and I let her mark the map ... and then I wondered what would happen if her teacher asked her what she did on spring break ... "Oh, my mom and dad and I plotted a murder."
    Oh yeah.

  7. Funny post and comments. Maybe I should consider fiction, not that our conversations could get much weirder.