Today I am very pleased to have Laura L. Sullivan, the author of Brightwing on my blog.
When I write for children, I write about what I yearn for – the unattainable past, unknowable folklore, and the land of my dreams, England. When I write crime and thriller stories for adults, though, I write about what I know intimately – present-day Florida. Brightwing is set there, as is my next book, the paranormal romantic thriller, Flesh.
In my books, Florida is a character in its own right. And it's not one of the good guys. There's a reason so many crime writers set their stories in Florida, and why Florida breeds crime writers like a pool of stagnant water breeds mosquitoes.
Florida eats people.
Aside from a few developing nations, I can't think of any other place where children grow up assuming they'll be eaten, or poisoned, or made horribly ill every time they go outside to play. From a very early age, I knew there were alligators, sharks, black bears and panthers dying to eat me. (Modern kids have to worry about pythons, too. At least I didn't have those.)
Some things don't want to eat you, they just want to kill you – six species of venomous snakes, recluse spiders, black widows. And then there are the creatures that just cause you terrible pain: man-o-war jellyfish, scorpions, stinging caterpillars, fire ants and stingrays. Factor in under-tows, rip currents, dengue, lyme disease, flesh-eating bacteria, lightning, hurricanes, more poisonous plants than anywhere else in the US, and the brain-eating amoeba, and you better believe that native Floridians are prepared for just about anything.
The fact that all of these things try to get you while you're having fun – playing in the park, swimming – creates an unusual dichotomy in the minds of Florida natives. We accept the fact that good and bad things live side by side. We are not really surprised when we're swallowed by a sinkhole. Twice. ( http://www.baynews9.com/article/news/2011/march/224932/Woman-survives-sinkhole-fall-for-second-time-calls-911 )
I think this makes Floridians uniquely suited to write crime fiction. The genre doesn't work if there is a clear-cut line between good and bad, if the innocents are too surprised to react, if the bad guys really believe they're the worst thing out there. Crime fiction isn't a morality play – it is a subtle, real-world interaction of good and evil and need and desire and luck. Nothing is so bad that it surprises a Floridian. But we know that the horrors of life are curled up with its pleasures – a bull shark in the Gulf shallows, a pygmy rattler in the hibiscus, breakbone fever on a twilight stroll – and if that makes for a worrying life, it also makes for great reading.
Thanks so much for having me on Library Mosaic, Carla!