Being an author has it’s perks, though I’m afraid money isn’t really one of them. So, like any job, you have to have fun whenever you can. You can play with people’s minds and watch their eyes fill with tears or widen in terror. Watch them race away or stop all conversation. Or, watch them all start whispering about the strange women in the corner talking about the whips and chains. And that’s even before they read your book!
Last year I was working Dark Succession and another manuscript that is, as of yet, not published. My critique partner and I met at a mexican place in town to go over pages and fix errors, etc on Dark Succession, plus pages of one of her manuscripts. The pages I’d given her covered the murder of one of the characters. Murder is fun when it’s in a book, and the character’s neck had been broken. Coincidentally, in the other MS I was working on at home, I was at the point where someone had also just died, and also had their neck snapped. (hmm, better make sure that doesn’t become a habit). So yes, I was thinking alot about how to kill people.
A young couple sat caty-corner to us, just ahead of me. My CP couldn’t see their faces, though she knew they were there. I had noticed the couple was listening closely, as though trying to figure our conversation. For more than 20 minutes they spent more time trying to listen to what we were saying than eating their own meal, and let me tell you, at this place that’s just a crime. I kept trying to talk quieter and quieter, and I could see them leaning more in our direction, trying really hard to listen.
So when we got the “snapped neck” part, I just couldn’t help myself. I raised my voice so I knew they could hear me. “Yes, I’ve been killing people left and right this week.” I mimed the act with my hands and said, “Snap! And now he’s dead.”
You could have heard a pin drop at the other table. The looks on their faces were so precious. Horror filled their expressions, forks dropped by the side of their plates and for long moments, they just stared at one another. Eventually the wife took out her cell phone as though to call the police, though the husband touched her hand and shook his head. Who knows what was going through their minds.
I started chuckling, and my critique partner asked me why, so I leaned over the table and whispered the couple’s reaction, and then she started laughing. The couple hurridly finished their meal and left, terrified to even look back as they rushed toward the cashier then out the door, never to be seen again. I sometimes wonder if they even remembered to leave a tip.
The instant the front door closed, my CP and I burst out laughing so hard I had tears running down my cheeks. I couldn’t stop – every time I did, I kept picturing their horrified looks and the rush out the door. I’d never had so much fun playing with eavesdroppers in my life. It served them right to so openly eavesdrop on another table. (Not that my manuscript wasn’t interesting enough to hold them)
So if you’re ever sitting at a diner, or some place where there’s people talking about death, destruction, and murder, there’s something my mom used to always say that you might want to remember: If you’re going to eavesdrop, eavesdrop on the entire conversation, not just part.
Otherwise, you just might get the shock of your life!