Monday, November 21, 2005

Some Books By My Desk

On this Thanksgiving Monday, BGs, I’d thought I tell y’all some highly uplifting pieces of info that are a mere arm’s reach away as I write. I got a bunch of books to my left, you see. A big ol’ heavy dictionary, and a good honkin’ synonym finder are the closest. Every writer’s gotta have that. I also have other fiction-writing books by such folks as Stein, Maas, Bell, Vogler, Campbell, Browne & King. You probably recognize these guys. AND—I have three handy-dandy books on murder and mayhem.

In fact, that’s the title of one. Murder and Mayhem, by D.P. Lyle, MD. The good doc answers all kinds of questions that crazy writers like me might ask. Just a few examples: What are the symtpoms of concussion? How long will a black eye persis? What happens when someone is struck by lightning? What is artificial blood? How dangerous is it to transport heroin in a swallowed condom? What is the Gulf War syndrome? What noises are made by victims of stabbing to the neck? How did David kill Goliath? What substance can be added to a fire-eater’s “fuel” to cause a sudden and dramatic death? How long does it take for an unburied body to skeletonize? How long does the foam around a drowning victim’s mouth persist? Will oleandor poison a cat? Do blind people have “visual” dreams? Do bodies move during cremation? Can a coroner determine between a freshwater and saltwater drowning?

Yup, I’ll bet just the kinds the things you’d want to know.

Doc Lyle also has a handy-dandy Web site, full of archives of like-minded questions. You can also submit a question. Doesn’t matter how preposterous it is, the doc will take them all in stride.

Next on my shelf is Katherine Ramsland’s The Criminal Mind: A Writer’s Guide to Forensic Pathology. This interesting book tells you why criminals act the way they do, and all the different psychoses/neuroses they can suffer from. Chapters include interesting tidbits on such issues as: Theories of criminality (and why the various theories matter). The psychology of a courtroom. Lie detection. Hypnosis with eyewitnesses. Insanity defenses. Criminal responsibility. Violence management. Treatment for sex offenders. Juvenile crime. Victim profiling. Duty to warn/protect—a fictional case involving ethics. Someone left a question on this blog last week about how to create believable bad guys who aren’t all the same and mere stereotypes. Reading this book as background can help give writers an understanding of how to create a murderer or other kind of criminal.

Next up on my shelf is Cause of Death: A Writer’s Guide to Death, Murder and Forensic Medicine, by Keith D. Wilson, M.D. This is a Writer’s Digest book in the “Howdunit Series.” This book was written in 1992, so some of the stuff can be out of date (such as the photos and explanations of hospital emergency room equipment). But much of the information remains relevant. Topics include: Rigor mortis and lividity, toxicology, all kinds of stuff on burial and funeral homes and coroners, deciding manner and mechanism of death, various forms of capital punishment in different states and how the subject dies. Part III focuses on causes of death: all forms of accidents, sudden death, and chronic illness. Final chapter looks at ethical questions such as cryonics, right to die, euthanisia, and death by voodoo. (Yes, I typed that last one right.)

These books make for light and entertaining bedtime reading, putting a suspense author in the perfect mood for sweet dreams.

Anyone out there have a book to add to my fun collection?


Dineen A. Miller said...
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Dineen A. Miller said...

Hi Brandilyn,
I got these two from Camy Tang:
Scene of the Crime: A Writer's Guide to Crime-Scene Investigations and Police Procedural: A Writer's Guide to the Police and How They Work. They look pretty good. I put them on my wish list, LOL! Also, I ex-FBI profiler, John Douglas, has some pretty interesting books: Anatomy of Motive and The Cases that Haunt Us are just a couple. His books are not for the weak at heart, since he's the one who's captured some of the most reknown serial killers of our time.

Stuart said...

no book ideas here

However, I did get the brainstorm that it could be interesting to have a serial killer that was going through each individual death recorded in the Bible and recreating it...

Or maybe just has a copy of one of your books and recreates each chapter :)

Warped & Twisted!

C.J. Darlington said...

I'm chuckling at your excitement about Murder and Mayhem, because it mirrored my own when I first saw the book. Cool! A book that will tell me where someone needs to be shot to allow them to still function? I mean, I bought the thing just for one or two answers and read it all. Fascinating. Some of the questions will bring along a laugh as it sheds light on just how twisted we writers can be sometimes. I feel for the characters of those who own this book.

Unknown said...

You are a jem, sharing like this. I have two of Douglas's books on profiling. They are a big help!

Anonymous said...

My first thought was "Why would the E.R. photos be out of date? 1992 was only...OMIGOSH - it was THAT long ago?!!!"

I'm getting old way too fast. I'd better get my wip finished before my kids grow up and put me in the home.

D. Gudger said...

I've checked the MURDER and MAYHEM out of the library wishing to own it . . . gotta tell the hubby for Christmas. Thanks for sharing your right hand resources used for your writing. Oftentimes I stand, dazed, in front of the "writing" section at B&N wondering what is worth the few $$ I have in pocket . ..

Karen Eve said...

I definitely need to add these to my 'Christmas List'. Wonder how my kids will react to their sweet, church-lady, grandmother of their children's book list? Thank you so much Brandilyn and everyone else. It's a writer's life for me (sung to the tune of "It's a Pirate's Life for Me" from the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. :)

Domino said...

Also from the Howdunit Series: Armed and Dangerous - a writer's guide to weapons by Michael Newton. It has a list of when various guns were first introduced. It discusses guns used by James Bond and Dirty Harry. It mentions Matt Helm's cigarette lighter that conceals fifty-two different weapons. The book gives info about sounds made by different kinds of guns and what a silencer will actually do.

How strange for me to give info on killing machines and then say...

Happy Thanksgiving! =D

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

I was going to suggest the same book as Domino, Armed and Dangerous. I like how he gives examples of even seasoned authors such as Stephen King making gross mistakes on weapons or their characteristics.

PS Thanks Brandilyn, I got the autographed book plates and bookmark today...way cool!

They were applied, even before I put my groceries away...the ice cream got a little soft, but who books are autographed...woohoo!!!

Pammer said...

Oooooh! Now I know some more cool books to ask hubby for. Yippee! I have Scene of the Crime (and I did read it before bed, maybe I am twisted, hmmm, I'll get back to you on that one) and Cause of Death, Missing Persons, Armed and Dangerouse (my FAVORITE of course, lol), Modus Operendi, Police Procedural and Forensic Casebook. I also have one called Getting Into Character.

I am currently reading one wickedly twisted book called....oh maybe I should wait on the name, but I bet you all know who it is by. :0) I would like to add that I have gotten NOTHING else done but read since it arrived. (Falling down the stairs last night is giving me a good excuse though, lol).

When I give these book titles to my hubby he is going to sigh really big and say "More murder and mayhem? Okay." He is so good to put up with my weirdness.