One Cherie Priest Forgot

In a bizarre oversight Cherie forgot to mention this golden rule of publishing—Never publish a novel which is a thinly disguised account of a murder you committed. It might help the cops bust you:

In his debut 2003 novel Amok, Polish author Krystian Bala describes the torture and murder of a young woman whose hands are bound behind her back with a cord that is then looped to form a noose around her neck. According to a judge’s ruling this week in the western Polish city of Wroclaw, Bala was drawing not on his imagination for that scene, but on his own experience.

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. I thought we authors were smarter than that?

Plus: killing people is wrong.

On the other hand, his book was a bestseller . . .


  1. hillary! on #

    Soooo, you’re saying it might be OK if you can get a bestseller out of it? tsk tsk tsk…I thought that you were a better person than that! HAHAHA!

  2. Ted Lemon on #

    God, what does that say? I stopped reading Patricia Cornwall because it just seemed unseemly to depict the killer’s state of mind so gleefully. There’s something a little bit frightening in the idea that people are that into reading a true-to-life account of a brutal murder.

  3. deborahb on #

    I just read that story in the paper. Brilliant! I can’t wait for his thinly disguised prison ‘fiction’.

  4. Rebecca on #


  5. Malcolm Tredinnick on #

    To be fair to Cherie, she was noting things she had learnt from her own experiences of being published. Can we give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she doesn’t have experience in this particular area?

    Whilst Cherie’s livejournal user profile does say “naked and killing people”, I suspect she’s taking some artistic license there, rather than advertising her other day job (although, imagine the news story when she’s caught).

  6. Justine on #

    Hillary!: I believe I was very clear: killing people is wrong.

    Ted: There’s a chance that he’s innocent . . .

    Deborahb: I’m wondering if Amok will/has been translated.

    Malcolm: I’m not implying anything about Cherie. Though I’m sure if she committed murder—not that she would—that she’d be much more crafty about it. Cherie is dead smart.

  7. Karen on #

    “Write what you know” becomes so much less appealing when applied to sociopaths.

  8. Justine on #

    Yuppers. There are so many ways in which “write what you know” is terrible advice.

  9. Ariel Cooke on #

    It reminds me of those Polish jokes. “Did you hear the one about the Polish murder mystery writer? He thought you had to write what you know. Now he’s on trial for murder.” It seems to me that the biggest thing they have on him is about the cell phone being sold from his internet account.
    everything else is circumstantial. unless there are details of the crime in the book that were not generally known.

  10. Ariel Cooke on #

    better joke phrasing:

    did you hear the one about the polish mystery writer on trial for murder? he heard you have to write what you know.

  11. Katie on #

    deborahb, i’m sure it will be fascinating!

  12. janet on #

    See also Anne Perry. Though I don’t think that any of her novels depict anything like the murder she helped commit.

  13. vicky on #

    …i laughed a little when i read this. i don’t know why. it’s not the killing part that was funny to me, but…

    crap. what does that say about me?

  14. vicky on #

    …actually, i think it was more the fact that he was silly enough to write a book about it. not the fact that he killed someone.

    sorry about the double comment.

  15. janet on #

    After I wrote my comment above, I remembered that I once heard an interview with Sue Grafton in which she told how her first mystery novel came about: she was going through a nasty divorce and had thought up a great way to kill her ex-husband, but instead she wrote a mystery novel using the method. (If you’ve read the novel, you know: oleander poisoning.) I think that’s what is technically known as sublimation.

  16. Stevo on #

    So who do I have to kill to get published? 🙂

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