Writing the Tough Stuff (Or Killing the One You Love)

Please welcome my friend, fan, and fellow author, Aaron Paul Lazar, who will be discussing killing the one you love — metaphorically and literarily speaking, that is. Aaron writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three mystery series, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys.  Aaron says:

It’s not easy writing a scene where you kill the one you love.

Of course I don’t mean your actual spouse or lover. I mean the wife, husband, or sweetheart of your main character.

I’ve done it in FOR KEEPS. Thinking about it tears my heart out every single time.

That’s what I mean by “writing the tough stuff.” Sam Moore—a retired family doctor who is our resident hero in Moore Mysteries — is very much like me, except he’s twelve years older and retired with enough money to putter around in his gardens all day. Let me repeat that. All day!

I hate him for that.

Okay, so maybe that’s a little extreme, considering he’s fictional. Shall we say, I am exceedingly jealous of his lifestyle? Although Sam was a family doctor and I am an engineer, we’re still a lot alike. We both love to plunge our hands into the soft earth and grow things. We both love our grandkids so much it hurts. And we both have spouses with multiple sclerosis. There are plenty of differences, too. I cook, I write, and I take photos. Sam doesn’t. But of course, it’s not a competition. At least I don’t think so…

In spite of the fact that he’s not real (at least not in the traditional sense, LOL), I relate to this man and feel his pain when he’s hurting. Sure, you say, writers should feel ALL their characters’ pain. We have to, to get into their heads and nail the characterization. Don’t we?

But I’ll bet some characters are closer to your heart than others.

Sam’s wife, Rachel, shares many qualities with my dear wife, Dale. They both endure MS, they both love to read, they are both chair-caning artists. Some of their symptoms are the same, but that’s where they split apart. Rachel loves to cook (that’s my job in our marriage), she’s in a wheelchair, and she stays pretty upbeat, considering her challenges. They both adore their grandchildren and both love to read. Rachel’s a tribute to Dale, in all honesty. But she also has morphed into her “own woman,” too, and I love her deeply. Er . . . through Sam, of course. (Honey, don’t be jealous!)

In the first two books of theMoore Mysteries series, Rachel sticks by Sam’s side, supports him when he’s overcome with grief and is plagued by strange paranormal events, and loves him deeply enough to keep him sane.

That’s why it really hurt when I had to kill her.

In For Keeps, the third book in the series, life takes an awful turn. When Rachel is murdered by a serial killer, it puts Sam back in the psych ward, the same place he was thrown when his little brother disappeared without a trace fifty years earlier. Desperate to fix things, he calls on the power of the green marble, the talisman his little brother Billy controls from afar that whisks him back and forth through his past.

Unlike those of us in real life, Sam gets a “do over.” He flies back in time to desperately try to fix the problems that lead to this gruesome act, and over and over again, he attempts to tweak the past to bring his dear Rachel back to life.

How do you write such a scene without losing it? How do you make it feel authentic to your readers? How much is too much? And how can you be certain that your character’s reaction will ring true?

It’s not easy. Matter of fact, since I loosely base Rachel on my own wife, and since Sam and I are really quite alike, it was close to torture.

I called upon my darkest, most powerful emotions experienced when my father died and also when my own dear wife almost died several times in the past few years. I’ll never forget the time the nurse in the ER called the nun on duty to bring me to a little room where no one would see my reaction to her impending news that Dale might not make it. She carried a box of Kleenex under one arm and a bible in the other. She was so sweet. Yet it was one of the scariest moments of my life. Thankfully, my wife pulled through and is doing okay today.

That hollow-gut, black-sludge-in-your-heart feeling is horrible when you lose someone dear to you, isn’t it? It’s all encompassing. Sometimes you just want to deny that awful truth, and pull away — far away — like Sam does in the following excerpt. (Click here to read the Excerpt From “For Keeps” by Aaron Paul Lazar.) I tried to channel those feelings when getting inside Sam’s head.  Let me know if you think it worked.

For Keeps is book #3 in Moore Mysteries, and is now available through Twilight Times Books and Amazon.com. The series can be read in any order.  Free dates of “For Keeps”: Sept 14, 15, 16th and October 12, 13th.

copyright 2012, Aaron Paul Lazar

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18 Responses to “Writing the Tough Stuff (Or Killing the One You Love)”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I’m intrigued; if only I had a Kindle.

    • Aaron Paul Lazar Says:

      Rami – if you want to read it, you might consider downloading a free Kindle app to your pc, laptop, iPad, or iPhone. It works just like a Kindle – that’s how I read a lot of books while my wife hoards (keeps close) the Kindle! It really is easy, and free! Best of luck!

      • rami ungar the writer Says:

        thank, i’ll consider it, though i don’t really have the time to read e-books.

        • Aaron Paul Lazar Says:

          I know, it’s hard to find time to read in any fashion, though I really do try every day to squeeze in some reading time. But lately what’s really helped me is going to audio books! You can listen while you exercise, listen while you drive to and from work – it is fantastic! I’m getting so many more stories now that it’s like heaven. I walk 1.5 hours every morning and drive an hour a day, so that’s 2.5 hours of books that I wouldn’t have had. Love it. I also have almost all of my books up on Audible.com as audio books now.

  2. jeffo Says:

    As hard as it is to kill off (or otherwise torture) a character you love, I find some of those toughest scenes are also the most emotionally-satisfying to write. Once they’re done, anyway.

  3. Deborah J Ledford Says:

    Great to see you here on Pat’s great blog, Aaron. Looking forward to reading FOR KEEPS!

    • Aaron Paul Lazar Says:

      Thanks so much, Deb. Pat and I go back a longggg way, LOL. I love all of her books and you KNOW how much I love your work, too. Hey, it’s just a love fest going on here, huh? But I truly mean it.

  4. joylene Says:

    I have two of your books now, Aaron, and I’ll be reading them this fall. Funny you should post about this today. I’m being sneaky and killing off my protagonist’s wife before the book opens. He’s suffering, of course, but I don’t have to go the killing part. Hmm. Just occurred to me that I did this very thing in my last book. Oh dear, I smell a theme. Not good.

    Great post, Aaron. As usual.

    • Aaron Paul Lazar Says:

      Thanks, Joylene. How are you? I haven’t chatted with you in a while! Thanks for getting my books, I’d love to hear what you think when you have a moment to breath and do some reading. ;o) What’s your latest release? I’ve lost track, I’m embarrassed to say…

  5. Pat Bertram Says:

    Thank you for letting me be part of your blog tour, Aaron. It’s been fun getting together with old friends and new. Best of luck with your book!

  6. Stephen Leslie France Says:

    The description in that scene certainly resonated – you captured the finite, irreversible nature of death in Sam’s actions and dialogue – or lack of words – poignantly.

    Writing these scenes is extremely satisfying as it confirms you’re on the correct path if it possesses the ability to evoke emotion.

    Great post.

    http://stephen-leslie-france.blogspot.com/

    • Aaron Paul Lazar Says:

      Thank you, Stephen, for you insightful comment. Hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend. If you are interested, FOR KEEPS is free today and tomorrow in Kindle format. We’re trying to drive it up in the ranks. It’s at #6 in literary fiction now and #24 in mysteries/thrillers. Tally ho!


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