September 22 – 28: “Writers often strive for unusual methods of murder.”

thriller-roundtable-logo5This week we’re talking murder! Writers often strive for unusual methods of murder. Do they try too hard, and, if not, what are some of the most memorable? Join ITW Members Jon McGoran and J. H. Bográn for this week’s thrilling discussion.


Deadout by Jon McGoranJon McGoran is author of Drift, a critically acclaimed thriller about biotechnology and genetically engineered foods, and its newly released sequel, Deadout, which expands on those themes and also looks at the mysterious disappearance of honeybee populations worldwide. Writing as D. H. Dublin, he is also the author of the forensic thrillers Body Trace, Blood Poison and Freezer Burn. He is currently working on the follow-up to Deadout, due out in 2015.

Firefall_Proof2J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. His debut novel TREASURE HUNT, which The Celebrity Café hails as an intriguing novel that provides interesting insight of architecture and the life of a fictional thief, has also been selected as the Top Ten in Preditors & Editor’s Reader Poll. FIREFALL, his second novel, was released in 2013 by Rebel ePublishers. Coffee Time Romance calls it “a taut, compelling mystery with a complex, well-drawn main character.” He’s a member of The Crime Writers Association, the Short Fiction Writers Guild and the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator and contributor editor their official e-zine The Big Thrill. You can find him on his website, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter @JHBogran

  1. The only time I think a writer is trying too hard is when they look like they are trying hard, and, in that case, they’re probably not trying hard enough. I love an ingeniously concocted or performed murder, both for its own sake, and also for how it can display the intelligence and resiliency of the protagonist or antagonist. What I don’t love is when it feels forced or implausible, when it stretches believability or feels beyond the character’s capabilities or against their innate tendencies, or if by nature it is not only improbable, but unrealistic. It is important to lay the groundwork, to set things up, so that the method of murder, however outlandish, feels like a natural and inevitable result of the confluence of character, motive, and the circumstance and materials at hand.

  2. This may be afield from the topic but writers are always looking for a unique or different means of murder. They may decide on a particular technique that some readers will think a bit farfetched. However, at times the method used catches up with reality. To wit, in my Riviera Contract the villain has concocted a plan to spread the Ebola virus to the United States. Does anyone today think Ebola is not a deadly threat? In the sequel, the African Contract a black mamba is the rogue’s choice of weapon. Again, not your usual choice of weapon but I hope one that catches the readers’ attention.

  3. I think the way author off people is always subject to scrutiny from which nobody is ever free. Let’s cite for example the dedication found in Agatha Christie’s Murder For Christmas, also known as Hercules Poirot’s Christmas:

    ” … You complained that my murders were getting too refined – anaemic, in fact? You yearned for a “good violent murder with lots of blood”. … So, this is your special story — written for you. …”

    If Agatha Christie, at the peak of her career, took some criticism from her brother-in-law, how can the rest of us stand a chance?
    In the end, I agree with Jon, we can go outlandish, sophisticated, or just as plain vanilla as a headshot, but it has to make sense at least within the plot.

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