Poison by Punctuation (Chalkboard Outlines)
by Kelley Kaye
About the Book
Poison by Punctuation (Chalkboard Outlines)
2nd in Series
Red Adept Publishing, LLC (April 24, 2018)
Print Length: 243 pages
Digital ASIN: B07BTYJXCG
High school teacher Emma Lovett is finally recovering from her first year of teaching when she discovers another dead body. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this time, someone has killed a student, Kisten Hollis.
Emma and her best friend, Leslie, are desperate to solve this murder. But suspects abound. The perpetrator could be a teacher, an administrator, a member of Kisten’s zealous church community, or even another student.
Emma must juggle her teaching responsibilities, her new romance with handsome Hunter Wells, and interest from a hunky second suitor, all while searching for evidence to bring a killer to justice before someone else dies.
A while ago I took part in MTW—Mystery Thriller Week—for the second year in a row. It’s a celebration of what I write—murder mysteries—and also of what I read, all the time, mystery, thriller and action, and I love it! But it raises the question, re-raises it I guess, of my feelings about violence in the media—literature, movies, videos, you name it, and whether I think it affects the violence we see people commit worldwide, every minute, every day. It’s true, I write cozies, and Great Escapes celebrates that genre specifically, but still, somebody’s getting murdered, right? Since a cozy mystery is sometimes called ‘Murder Lite’ and it doesn’t have gore or graphic violence, still the storyline requires one human to kill another one. I could have a whole ‘nother conversation of how I feel like I can ‘keep a lid on’ my own dark side by reading and writing about it, but that can’t be the answer for everyone. And now that I have children of my own, the question broadens to not only my own responsibilities to humanity, but to what I am exposing my sons to and how I can teach them their responsibilities as citizens of the planet, too.
Am I screwing them up by immersing myself in murder, and letting them see it, too, and letting them see how much I love it?
See, it’s turning out that my oldest son has become a reader. After he finished the Harry Potter series and the Rick Riordan Percy Jackson series, he was looking for something new and even maybe a new genre. Being the mystery writer and a mystery lover that I am, I wanted to show him some of that. I love Harlan Coben—he inspired me to write the first Chalkboard Outlines novel Death by Diplomaand now the second book Poison by Punctuation.Harlan recently wrote a young adult mystery trilogy with the nephew of his main series main character Myron Bolitar. The trilogy featured Myron’s nephew, Mickey, as the main character. Since it is a YOUNG ADULT mystery, it was a slightly easier to read and slightly tamer as far as the violence, even though it existed, as it has to, in a murder mystery. My son read the trilogy in the blink of an eye, so I’m back searching for books for him to read., and I know I was reading ADULT books at a very young age. Maybe he’d like some of the mysteries I read?
My own parents never censored or excluded anything I asked to or expressed an interest in reading. I continued this concept into my child rearing and my teaching career. In my book, censorship sucks. But I don’t believe in carte blanche with book choices, meaning I’m going to try and educate myself on what the boys are reading, so I can talk about it with them. As far as letting my 11-year-old read adult murder mysteries I felt that I should have read them also. Which was super easy in Harlan Coben’s situation, because I’ve read all of his! I gave my son a standalone thriller called Missing You.But that put me back to the question of responsibility, because there are some violent scenes in that book.
I asked my friend Ken about it—he’s a psychiatrist, over 40 years in practice. In a particular scene in the novel, one of the victims of violence escapes by cleaving a bad guy’s head open with an axe. So I wanted Ken’s opinion–am I completely screwing up my kid? Honestly, it’s a pretty violent scene, and my kid, mature and fabulous and worldly as he might seem to his supremely biased mother, is still only eleven.
Ken gave me a very interesting answer. He said he feels it’s better to allow children to see violence in REALITY–meaning it comes from an actual story about humans and human situations, rather than games or videos where violence is the means of entertainment rather than one element of a multifaceted story. Ya know? A storyline instead of just sitting in front of a screen and killing stuff. It made sense to me, and made me feel better about the scene.
He also commented that I’d probably want to address it further if I saw some evidence of a negative effect in my son’s behavior–like he started having nightmares or acting out. I think my sons are pretty clear on the difference between fictional stories and reality, but I appreciated the perspective nonetheless. It’s going into my hatful of parenting tools.
In my author hat and my reader hat, I must say I’m going to keep on writing and reading about murder. It feeds a need in ME for escape, catharsis and therapy.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your viewpoint! Until next time…Stay Mystified!
About the Author
“Kelley Kaye” taught High School English and Drama since 1992 in California, then Colorado and now Cali again, but her love for storytelling dates back to creating captions in her high school yearbook. Maybe back to the tales she created for her Barbie and Ken—whatever the case, the love’s been around a long time. She’s married to an amazing man who cooks for her, and they have two funny and wonderful sons.
Website – http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorkelleykaye/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/kelkay1202
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