Same murder, two different crimes? Depends on what you read

In what many are calling a hate crime, 49-year-old James Craig Anderson was killed after he was run down in Jackson, Mississippi over the weekend by two white teenagers. The case is everywhere on the Internet, filling up chat rooms and news outlets alike spewing hatred for the defendants. Part of the reason why there’s so much attention on the web is that there is security camera footage that shows Anderson being run over.

I came across this story in my local paper the Fort Worth Star Telegram, which they got from the Associated Press. The article is even-handed, and refrains from any bias. As the cop in Dragnet used to say it gives us, “just the facts.”

However, I also came across the same story that was covered on a website called ru-crazy.com. Same incident, much different story. Is it biased or not? You be the judge.

For us writers, I think the horrible tragedy that is the death of James Craig Anderson can teach us a valuable lesson about how we use our research and which sources we trust. Do we continue to use only the “tried and true” sources like the AP? Or do people who run websites like ru-crazy.com closer to the story? Will bystanders give them the more truthful account of what really happened because maybe they are a known person in the neighborhood? Are the reporters from a huge organization like the AP seen as outsiders when they go into the neighborhoods and towns when these types of crimes happen, and therefore they are given a line of bull? As more and more people become armchair reporters, we will continue to get our news from various sources. And while it seems like a bit much to keep track of, I think the truth is out there somewhere, we just have to care enough to look in the right place.  

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

TV, thou art my muse (for the moment)

Again, dear friends, we find ourselves knee-deep in another Mystery Monday. I sincerely hope everyone had a restful weekend and got to spend at least a few hours doing something for yourself. I took a two-hour long bike ride Sunday afternoon and I used that “me time” to unwind a few plot hiccups in a novel I’m currently working on. Exercise always seems to work out the mental kinks.

Speaking of kinks, we all know that most of the time, for writers, TV is our worst enemy. It pulls us away from what we should be doing, like writing, or working on the website, or doing research, or a myriad of other productive things.

But something strange happened on the way through the 400 channels of crap that clogs my cable system. I came across the 2nd installment of AMC’s The Killing last night, and it was fantastic. Why? Because unlike CSI or L&O (both of which I do like) the crime isn’t solved in an hour (actually, 40 minutes when you take into account the commercials) by people who look like they’re on a break from the Vanity Fair cover shoot using forensic tools of which Buck Rogers would be envious. On a more serious note, the fact that these shows race through their cases so fast, could, as David Martindale wrote in a recent Fort Worth Star Telegram article, “desensitize us to violent crime.” Why? I’ll quote Mireille Enos, who plays lead investigator Sarah Linden on The Killing for the answer: “I think the outcome of the accelerated pace is that the victim becomes this nameless, faceless persona that the audience really doesn’t care very much about.”

I tend to agree with Enos’s statement, especially when it comes to the deep anguish displayed every time the camera is on the parents of the murder victim in the show. I won’t ruin it for you, but there was this one scene in last night’s episode where the mother nearly does something unthinkable. As a parent, I was on the verge of tears as I watched, all the time thinking, “How in the world could I survive what those parents are going through?” Whenever I write a scene about the grief a parent must feel when they lose a child, I will recall that scene.

If there was ever a TV show that could be a muse and has the ability to touch the same depths that a novel can, probing every ripple caused by a singular event, The Killing, so far, is the top contender. By watching the show, it’s reminded me that:

1. It’s okay to have a lot going on. While having a lot of characters not doing very much is not a good idea, showing a few, central characters that have a lot going on makes them more realistic.

2. Along that vein, Detective Stephen Holder in The Killing wouldn’t win any ethical or moral awards for his police work. While I find him almost repulsive at times , he does what he feels is necessary to get the job done. The actor Joel Kinnaman, who plays Holder, does an excellent job giving us this “scruffy angel”, especially when that character is juxtaposed against the slick councilman played by Billy Campbell who might just be a devil in Armani. By showing the many sides to both characters, the actors make them all that more human, relatable and, most importantly, watchable. If the main facet of good storytelling is creating compelling characters, one not need to look any further than The Killing to study some very well-developed characters. Besides, when was the last time watching TV could be counted as research?

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author. Bestselling author Sandra Brown recently had this to say about Mark’s latest novel, The Brink: “[The Brink] is a hell of a read. The chemistry between [the main characters] Danny and Sydney is terrific. The action sequences were heart-pounding, and I was left feeling that you have a sequel in mind!” Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at www.markfadden.com.

Escape from New York?

A boatload of work prevents me from a full post today. But I did want to share a link to this article from the Fort Worth Star Telegram, my hometown newspaper, entitled, “Authors see e-books as escape from publishers.” Personally, I think the New York houses are still viable and very much needed and I agree wholeheartedly with one quote from the article about publishing houses being the, “venture capitalists for authors.” As an authorpreneur, that is the perfect way to look at them!

Have a great day everyone!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Signed copies of The Brink are available 20% off the cover price at www.shop.markfadden.com.

New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8.