Journey Through Literature: Crime Genre

25 Jun

What was your first book about?

My first book, I ever wrote, and was the first published, was called The Disintegrating Bloodline. It was a weird title, as it was going to be a weird book. It was a book that represented my youth and the power of such youth is the ability of what I aspired to be. When I started writing the book, I was in a creative writing class. The teacher was Ms. Jones at Hermitage High School. She was beautiful as she was interesting. There’s nothing like a beautiful creative writing teacher to want to make men start writing. It’s not a profession that most men want to do. But the first chapter of the Disintegrating Bloodline was written as an assignment. But it was Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” and Nicholas Pillegi’s “Goodfellas” and “Casino” and JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series that helped continue the book. What changed is that I had a book that nobody wanted to publish, and it’s no different in any other time. But crime has always been about the “subterranean” and how it was “supposed to talk about the literal and the metaphorical truth” as John Tuturro admitted on the making of The Godfather. What allows crime to pass is Greed. That’s the main theme of a crime story. It’s why at the beginning of “The Godfather” where Bona Sera comes to talk with Vito Corleone about “killing the men who beat up his daughter.” Vito Corleone offers him help as long as they could be “friends.” Criminals work against people’s better emotions. They want favors from the people they love. It’s learning that “everyone has a price.” If you wanted to break down Paradise Lost by John Milton, it’s a religious thriller and a crime drama between heaven and hell.

I want to start with that idea. Paradise Lost, John Milton, published I n 1667, was a retelling of God’s creation and the way Satan was cast out of Heaven. Pride is a big sin in the criminal world. It’s linked to vanity. Vanity against a creator, as it was the defeat of such a proud general who was pushed to the side, and Satan is the will of the angels, as he was the most cherished out of God’s army. What culture creates around pride and sin are cultural mores. Heaven was the only purpose of the world in God’s eye, but it was the angels who were cherished by God. But as Satan, who was ambitious, is clearly going to disobey God. Tear through the ranks, and show that God was not leading the Angels according to his will. It’s worse when the Generals closest to the dictator know when they must take hold of the crew. And to be God was the ultimate victory for Satan. The immense pleasure and power of being in charge is in every crime novel. It’s the undesirable implication of being stuck as a soldier, and in a chain of command, many young soldiers can outwit there leader just by a few chess moves. God is not stupid when it comes to the pride of his angels. There is no confusion. God knows, but to wait it out. Patiently. If Rebellion is to come, God has to meet it, but in a crime genre, it is the pride of angels who want such power over God. Satan was loyal, but the love for God was not there, at the battle between Heaven and Hell. The peerless eye of God was waiting, but it was Pride that made Satan fight God. (All of this is my own musing, but you get the backdrop). This is where Milton begins. And that’s when Satan lost, and was cast out of Heaven. Battered and destroyed on the banks of Hell, he is pissed. An understatement. It’s a battle that Satan couldn’t win. In the mean time. The battle was a disaster. Like the implication of a battle, all of Satan’s powers were stripped away. He was not the same. Satan is planning his revenge. Immediately after he is cast out. All his demons have no morale, and he rouses them to fight for him, as they would “rather reign in hell than serve in heaven.” It’s vengeance that drives Satan, as it was a crime to “challenge God” and then pursuing God was then Satan’s act of vengeance. Satan is confident, and however he thought it was better, his plan of vengeance against God’s creation, Adam and Eve, and he succeeds. If you placed this in the present day, this would be the same story, but different time. Crime is about knowing what the people want, and then extorting them.

Like how?

Criminals always are your friends first. What you get then is “okay, you want my protection, then you owe me a favor.” It’s how the mafia worked in Italy. They were your friends. The partisans worked with the US Government. Lucky Luciano urged the US government, with blowing up a ship in the New York port, which helped the US into WW II. The desperate actions men will take in order to have power are always with “good intentions” as “hell” awaits. Criminals always have to make more moves to make sure there empires are covered in blood of there enemies and those who oppose them. Criminals think they aren’t the villains, and it’s always an innocent that rises up to destroy their leader, who gave them a chance. Vito Corleone is a fictional version of the “good mafia Don” and all the stories about the men representing evil incarnate. The desperation with having to ask the mafia for favors is what the world doesn’t want. It’s better to deal with cops than with criminals, but sometimes it never works out that way. Criminals will always want to help, but then it’s an added tax on your soul. You’re “property” not their “friends.”

What is the value of property on criminal friendships?

Criminals always value “property” and they prey on the weak. We can name a lot of films that do this. New Jack City with Wesley Snipes and Ice-T, proved that you could have a story about the cops as well as the criminals. The cops weren’t just focused on getting Nino Brown, but it was Judd Hirsch who admitted that he was a druggie as well, and became a police officer to fight his own demons. What the world wants are heroes and villains, but sometimes, life presents complexity that challenge the stereotype of good vs. evil. People are not simple and nor do they ever live “inside a box.” If you wanted things in a box, you should just make a coffin so you can live with your dumb ass ideas, because most people won’t. Crime is knowing that you won’t escape the punishment. T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. means The Hate You Give Fucks Everyone. It’s a reminder the hate you spew will come back to find you. It’s knowing that the hurt you caused would only make the situation worse. Try living up to the ideal version of yourself and you will break. I don’t count on people to be perfect in books, because in crime novels, everyone is guilty. Guilty enough to find there place in the world. Where they don’t belong. Your criminals shouldn’t belong and no matter what you try to do, you can’t escape your fate. To die by the hands of your enemies, because it’s written. Committing vengeance only returns it with a side of coleslaw, and you will have to eat it, because that’s what you didn’t remember ordering. What you don’t remember is that you have no way of remembering. But the ideal criminal is knowing that they follow there prideful acts with more rage. They don’t have a conscience, and while it’s more than enough to find a dead body, the dead body is what makes the world of the criminal far more interesting. Who is that dead body to the criminal? What was there relationship to it? Does it have any significance or is it a passing psychological metaphor that is recurring through the text? It’s more than enough to say “Vito Corleone was a family man” but he treated his friends and his enemies the same. Loyalty is a big key in crime stories. It can be a catalyst to another characters rite of passage into violence, or it could be the denouement, but without it, betrayal makes a crime story juicier. Add something personal to it. Make it more than just a crime story, and you will have a new genre. Science Fiction has always employed the crime genre’s tactics of a detective in the future solving a series of murders, like Altered Carbon. The product of a crime is that there is violence and dead bodies. There must be cruelty in each character even when you know what they want. Add some more deception between a mother and a son or father and a daughter, that helps too. The connection is when the writer must know they are building up the tension. Action is fine, but the violence must be seen. It must be seen if your reader is going to react to it, and crave it. Your reader wants you to crave violence committed by the main character. Either it was right or wrong, it adds up to the series of bodies your character is leaving behind. Leave all the bodies you want, but it’s only going to make your story better. Violence is what your reader is there for. Do not De-escelate your violence or the tension. Maybe you don’t have to show the wisdom but you can definitely let your readers know it through action. Sex is also an important function of a crime story.

Do you think there is a difference with a good quality sex scene?

If you haven’t had sex, please find that before you miss out on the best years of your life. What you expect from it is pleasure. Two people trading there virginities for each other like baseball cards. Sex in a crime story is not just a way to show the character’s softness toward a woman, but also show her his true masculinity. Masculinity is what makes a good crime story better. Soy boys do not make good main characters. (For people who don’t know what a soy boy is, they are weak effiminate male that look like women. Those are anime males). A soy boy is not threatening or even close to a criminal war lord. He is a bitch and should be treated like one. (Now that’s out of the way). What makes a good criminal is how much of a charmer he is with women. He should hang out at bars and pick up women. Fuck them until he is satisfied, and make some little quip that makes the girl wish she let him bust inside her with a condom. Because every woman in a crime novel is attracted to a piece of shit. Even the detectives wives in a crime novel are Queen dumpster fire of women. They are just as worse as the men. Boxcar Bertha is one film that you can look to where the main character, Bertha, a piece of shit. When the criminals are women, it adds a layer of biblical deception. It makes you think of Jezebel when she cut off Samson’s hair. We classify her as an “evil bitch” because she knowingly cuts off Sampson’s hair and delights in it. She wants to tempt him and even when he loses his eyes, he’s not afraid, and he destroys everyone who was involved. It’s better when your character is taken to the point of self destruction, and no matter if it comes from drugs, or his need for revenge, it was going to happen anyway. Destruction is what your character must face. Either spiritually or physically. The torture must be felt on every page, and when you don’t return the goods on a story you are selling as “edgy” you are not “edgy” and stop saying you are. If you don’t “deliver the goods” you are merely a hack artist. A failed story teller who became a journalist. The fear of what your character knows can also work to a benefit, but self deception is what makes a crime story work. The progress of deception is what makes the villains devious and more human by the day. “Knowing what your characters think” vs. “What they do” is how you know to build tension and how much action you can offer. There is usually a difference between the two. Having a group of characters lead you by your violent tactics, violence can be a rush. It should be enjoyed but also feared, but also like staring at a broken bleeding doll that you killed yourself. It’s when you start to analyze through the images that a character sees, with or without being told. It’s learning that your character shouldn’t have to be that lost to know that he should enjoy themselves. A lot of games empty the save space room where your character rests up for a moment and you can save the game and craft your weapons. It’s not the newest technique, but 1911 used this well. But the sensibilities of a character resting or professing his love for a woman through shrugging, and being hurt to the point where you have no more energy left. The reader like yourself should be drained as your character is. The problem is not knowing how to do this organically. Characters on the run do this. all the time. To summarize the story, but also find the courage to say the things your lovers on the run are learning as they are pushed to the extremes. What you face is the fear that you will not make it, and while the character is there, you must explore all the depth you know you have to face. If you are afraid of death, make that part of the conversation. If you fear being alone, have your character say it. Comfort each other. Heal each other when they know they could die any moment. No moment like the second you have on the page. It’s what you think is better than the rest. Anxiety must be apart of the crime story. People need to be on edge, but then again, being on edge isn’t enough. How do they deal with being on edge? Sometimes the best answers are unknown, and some can be forgotten, but brought up through interesting concepts the writer should employ. But it all must come from you.

Do you think crime should resemble the American storyteller or the British storyteller?

We can all think of great British crime writers. PD James and Agatha Christie are the shining beacons of British crime stories. Agatha Christie knows she’s employing so many techniques that even Resident Evil Zero borrowed from by putting the main characters on a train. A crime can happen anywhere, and it doesn’t matter where the location. A whodunit doesn’t have to be structured the same way all the time. That would be boring. Like the A is for Assassin type of novel, where you can predict what happens on every single page. If a book is predictable, please do not copy that style. But if you are reading this, you want to write something complicated. You want to take your story to new heights. It’s learning that stories can take you out of yourself, and put your emotions to rest. It’s learning that you can call upon satan with your gun and you can end the life of your enemy. Learning what sadness can do and guilt. It’s surrounded by the danger they know will become what they know will take every character into hell. Crime is necessary to society, because it teaches you where to go. If we are going to see more places like CHAZ thrive in violence within two weeks, this is the prediction that came true for William Golding with Lord of the Flies. The crime in any modern society is wrong think, and people try to erase it or ban it. It’s deviance to think that world living in a free uptopia will outright lead to violence, and in crime stories, if a weapon is going to be used, you have to use it against your enemy. Communists use information against there enemies, and they try to erase the evil they do, to not show there crimes are in full display. Criminals want to erase the past, and retitle it “We are all happy” and they think people are going to accept that. Communism is a crime people, remember that. Crime stories set in Soviet Russia are always political but they serve a purpose to talk about political corruption. European crime stories are focused around the crimes the state has made against its citizens. The Strugatsky brothers always faced censorship by the Soviet government. What is told in European crimes is that it’s sometimes not in the best interest of the individual to fight the state, but if the crime is so grave, the victim, knows there berserker roots will take over. Losing a child can lead to destruction of society and the media and the politicians who protect evil people. But then again, the media has made more mistakes, which by attacking people who haven’t done a crime. No wonder why the world will “rage” over “fake crimes” when crimes are being committed every day, but no one wants to tell those stories. Those stories won’t be “published” by the bigger publishers, and telling you that “the news can lie” would probably be more of a crime in Soviet Russia, but then in Russia, the government controls the media. Which allows the deception of the individual who knows they will act on there own. Sometimes the angry man is far more dangerous than an army, but rage can only suffice when there is a turn for the worst. What can happen in crimes is worse than you can imagine, but it’s never done in a PC way, because PC crimes are boring and they don’t add any depth to the work at hand. Politically Correct Crime is making a crime against a white person good, and no matter what people say today, they can never tell me it’s good. Crime is a human tendency even if you don’t want to commit it. There is always a need for crime in a novel, play, video game, movie, and if the crime is legitimate, it can be effective. Sometimes an emotional crime isn’t the only way. Political crimes are worthy additions to the Crime novel, but crime is apart of humanity, and whether it’s in the future or past, it makes little difference. Crime is always accessible. One thing that is interesting about the Naughty Dogg game Last of Us 2, they break the rule of making the villain two dimensional, and giving her a story as well, which is really fun to play, and I didn’t think I could feel something for the villain, Abby, too. Sometimes a crime can make the world better. A crime can make people aware of there true selves. What makes the world better is knowing that there is a crime instead of hiding its existence too. So keep covering it up in fiction and you will have a great story. But then knowing what a crime is isn’t the same as those villains who only fund the crimes, and knowing where the money comes from is also important in the writing process. But if a crime doesn’t happen, there is no drama, and if a crime is covered up, then it must be discovered. Sometimes you can do the opposite, but you have to consider why the crime is important. What drives the character, and why should a body be important. What drives characters is how a character can make or break there fate. Everyone is supposed to die so you need to consider death as a viable option in your work. Sometimes it can be meaningless, and if it’s meaningless it still means something. Senseless violence is supposed to be part of life. Not every death makes sense. Why was it that Jesus died on the cross and gave redemption, but all his apostles betrayed him, and he was left with his mother, Mary, and Mary Magdalene. It was the worst moment of Jesus’s life, but even some mysteries have to contain some bitterness, as the control of mankind is devious, and they will destroy themselves in order to keep a death a secret. A secret is better when there are people who know and the only one who has to find out is the main character. It’s perfect, because people need to know, but then, if every death meant something, then you wouldn’t be surprised. The effort would be pointless, but again, literary thrillers do not exist for a reason because cinema handles tension better. Crime noels are best when there isn’t enough information for the reader to go on. So they keep turning, but the characters in crime novels have to consider why they are doing the crime. Why are they better off not knowing? Some character commit crimes and they have to repent and redeem themselves. It was definitely better than they realized. Some characters have to be smarter than the rest, but what if the body or the goal has no purpose at the end? Sometimes the answer in a crime novel is not going to make the character a better person, because that’s not real life. Sometimes, people don’t change. People will never be who they want to be. Talking about the characters failings is what makes a character interesting. What are there dreams? It’s the way a character wants to do better is what makes it interesting. But do come stories mean they are better if they are in Europe or America? No, but it does help if you know the culture and the language, or make up a culture and a language.

Is Crime Imperative?

Crime is not always imperative, but revenge is a circle you can’t escape once set in motion.

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