Saturday, July 13, 2019

Weekend Guest S.G. Wong

I'm delighted to welcome S.G. Wong to Type M for Murder.  S.G. is a Canadian author, speaker, and community organizer. An Arthur Ellis Awards finalist and WIBA nominee, she's also Past President of Sisters in Crime--Canada West. Known for the Lola Starke novels and Crescent City short stories of alternate history, hard-boiled detective tales, she is currently finishing a new stand-alone contemporary mystery set in the Canadian Rockies.

Just a Little Off-Centre

By S.G. Wong

This is a selected list of things I’ve held in my hands, while I pondered their utility as weapons:

·         soup ladle
·         frying pan (various diameters)
·         soup pot (various sizes)
·         The Compact Oxford English Dictionary
·         kettle bells
·         kettle (stovetop)
·         kettle (electric)
·         toaster

 I remember with particular clarity the moments with the soup ladle, so unexpected, a revelation of sorts, really. Stainless steel bowl, flattened steel shaft, black plastic handle. I hefted that thing for a while, wondering if it had the right weight to do some real damage, or if it would just temporarily distract. It had a great, balanced feel, really perfect for swinging.

In case I’m not being clear: I often spend time considering everyday, common objects for their effectiveness as weapons.

I especially gravitate to kitchen items, for some reason. Probably because I spend a lot of time there. I like to cook and bake and generally futz about with ingredients and non-recipes. It’s the closest thing to alchemy. What’s not to like?

I mean, okay, I spend a lot of time at my writing desk, too, but I can’t suspend my disbelief long enough to imagine throwing my laptop or my monitor at someone in order to hurt them. Also, if someone corners me in my office, I’m a goner anyway: there’s only one way in or out.

On second thought, maybe I would use my laptop…

I remember a Sue Grafton novel, where a character dies an excruciatingly painful, messy death after being poisoned with amanitas, time bombs masquerading as mushrooms on the man’s pizza. Gruesome. And yet…intriguing.

I thought for a while that the huge fungi popping up among my spruce trees were amanitas. I was pretty disappointed to discover they’re actually just some sort of boletes. I mean some of these are toxic, too, but they just don’t have the same cachet as amanitas.

 Human beings are so ingenious. Yes, we can create obvious weapons: knives, guns, saws, ice picks, hammers, etc. etc. ad nauseum. But honestly, deadly things are all around us. And really, there’s something sneaky and weirdly satisfying (for me, at least) in skewing my perspective just enough so that I see a weapon where someone else (fine, most people) would see a beautiful maple cutting board or a hand-painted step stool.

I know it’s strange and morbid and possibly, not very healthy for my psyche—but. Hear me out.

Writing crime means studying crime. It means tipping one’s head just so, until an entirely new scenario comes into focus. It means observing the everyday and looking for its edges, where it unravels and where it’s patched up, where the familiar becomes a weapon and the known disappears.

It’s a mean, dark, dirty job—but somebody’s gotta do it.

PS. Have you seen the latest John Wick film? The one in which, before all the guns blaze and the knives come out, he does someone in with a book?

Yep. Gruesome. And…intriguing.


Eileen Goudge said...

I used an Oscar statuette as the murder weapon in one of my novels. If you’re ever held one, you know they’re heavy enough to bludgeon someone.

Sybil Johnson said...

The world is rather deadly. I wondered one time if one of those scales that uses a slight electrical charge to figure out your body fat could be modified to electrocute someone.