That’s a hell of a thing.
A romance novelist was arrested on suspicion of murder, three months after her chef husband was found fatally shot inside the culinary institute where he taught.
She looks like such a harmless lady.
Has anybody here read anything by her? I am not sure why that makes a difference.
For half a second as I caught the post title I thought Gordon had done something to upset you and it was a joke posting.
OMG, no. I can’t kill Gordon. He and the girls are all I have.
I am just weirded out by this juxtaposition of a super nice older lady and murder.
Oh no not in a serious way! More like writer “murders” husband for hiding her yarn sort of thing.
But yes I agree she doesn’t look the sort to be accused of murder but then it takes all sorts
Ted Bundy was an attractive man.
True, but Ted Bundy was also a white male in his prime. She is 68 years old.
I’m sure he’ll remember to put the bins out this week.
Just imagine what this’ll do for her book sales…
Jokes aside – she kind of looks personally affronted in that booking photo. “Me? How dare you!”
I guess you don’t watch a lot of Hallmark Mystery Movies LOL
LOL. I love this comment.
I do, and that’s probably why I’m not surprised in the slightest.
Wendy S says
Me too! I thought Gordon had done something and it was a case of by blog.
I’m torn between the horror of the reality and Sone bizarre (macabre?) laughter. All those book titles with “wrong” in them might be a hint…how about the one entitled “The Wrong Husband” ? Maybe the detectives read it? I haven’t, at not familiar with her writings. As someone already said I have a feeling her sales will go up, a lot of people might suddenly want to read that one.
Sheesh – auto correct when I’m not looking again…that word should be “some”
I call it auto corrupt ?
Gina Briganti says
Ha! That’s perfect!
I’d thought the same thing when I saw the headline- that it was a funny post after Gordon head done something (thinking kate and curran type done something) then read your post. ?
That is sad. I’d think it was a joke but I know fact is stranger than fiction!
I had the same thought as Mike.
Is it just me, or does that woman look super pissed in her booking photo?
Patricia Schlorke says
That’s what I thought when I saw her mugshot. Her titles also say something about how she felt too.
Age old base of attraction, the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, the ‘wrong way to wear pants’, the ‘wrong side of 60’, etcetera.
She’s just blatantly capitalised on the bad boy theme.
It’s a booking photo. I mean, I haven’t been booked, but combine the institutional photo with what’s got to be a pretty grumpy-making experience?
Last Wednesday I was doing some admin stuff at work, and was confronted with the photo from my keycard (which is like ten years old, and taken at that super attractive under the chin angle – as most of mine are, being tall). I made grouchy noises, and this turned into a “who has the worst photo?” contest. (No prize awarded as we lacked an unbiased judge.) But darn, we all looked like day old moldy shit.
And my driver’s license photos tend to be halfway decent.
Wendy S says
Maybe paranoia from early dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sadly at her age, that’s not so early.
Patricia Schlorke says
When I saw the heading on MSN.com, I thought “oh my gosh! Is it an author I read?!” When I started reading the article, the author was not one I read. Still…it’s a shock to read something like that. Fiction meets reality.
Courtney Mincy says
My thoughts too! Saw it yesterday and had to read to see if I read her. Don’t but now I’m curious.
Judy Schultheis says
There’s a reason why the main suspect in most murders is the spouse/SO, and right after that the rest of the family. Plus, people can and do hide the real ‘them’ all the time. You see it regularly with Psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists to name a few. And, with the titles of her books – either she was really, really focused on writing books about having the wrong husband (and everyone has their niche) or she was fantasizing about a different life – focused a lot on having the wrong husband. I can definitely see why she’s at least a suspect. That being said, she’s innocent until proven guilty.
Just keep in mind that she is accused, but not convicted. And i was under the impression that the “Wrong” series is just a.part of her body of work. There are a lot of books about murder and abuse, but that does not mean the authors are murderers and abusers.
Of course she could be guilty…. We will just have to wait and see what comes out at trial. Part of me really wants to check out some of her stuff, but I really do not want to support her in any wyay if she IS a murderess.
A way to not directly support her would be to see if your locals library has any of her books.
It’s just so weird to understand how one is *supposed* to feel about a person’s body of work after they have been accused (and then convicted) of a serious crime. Is it like you should avoid buying products whose manufacturing involves unethical processes. Or is it art above the individual? Specially if the art (in this case novels) are in fact good literature/fun/unconnected to the investigation. Honestly confused. (I personally haven’t read anything by her, it still weirds me out thinking of picking up her books even if she turns out innocent. But then again, should I be?)
I’ve read some things about how “artists” are special, so their various actions no one else could get away with get excused. Like Picasso was a jerk; Ernest Hemingway an alcoholic; Vincent Van Gogh was mentally ill; and recently rock stars got away with very destructive behavior. I don’t know, but murder is serious.
Tina Brickley-Langley says
Being good at one’s job has never been an indication of what kind of person someone is. Most authors don’t interact as much as G & I, so we have no idea what kind of people they are. Also, I read fiction, a lot. I check in with my favorite authors through their blog. This makes me wonder there are some that consider their blog posts another character. They could be terrible people, drug dealers, pedophiles, politicians. You never know. I think I’ll look at it the same way I do food. If it tastes good, I’m eating it. If i enjoy a book, I’m reading it. There are too many bad things in life and i want to get as much good as i can, while I can. Oh, by the way, I have never read any of her stuff, so I don’t know if her books are my cup of tea.
@Tina Brickley-Langley I think that is a neat attitude to have. I think I won’t go out of my way to avoid her books. I mean what @Sarafina had to say is also true enough. I do listen to a lot of questionable-in-this-way rock too.
I don’t normally check blog posts of authors. In fact, this is the only one that I regularly check in on. But I have in the past occasionally looked up a blog or facebook page by an author that I enjoyed.
I did stop watching Tom Cruise movies because he is such an arrogant ass… but then I saw one I didn’t realize was his and it was good and his personality did not overwhelm it… or blended well with the character he portrayed.
If I had read her stuff and liked it, this might not prevent me from re-reading or pursuing more of her stuff. But I would feel weird buying or even checking out her stuff because I had heard of her this way. It kind of creeps me out.
To quote a recent TV series: “There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers.”
I agree she is innocent until proven guilty. And I would hate for them to try and use her books as some sort of motive/mindset/proof of premeditation in her trial.
The authorlords can speak to this better than I can, but what you put on the page is not necessarily reflective of who you are as a person–or even as an author. It’s only reflective of the circumstances of the story.
Shannon from Florida says
I have never read her stuff and was wondering if she was more well known under s pen name?
Under A pen name
She writes as Nancy Brophy – I looked her up on Amazon. I have never read anything of hers, but I agree, she doesn’t look like a murderer.
I would suspect that romance writers/readers/watchers have greater than average expectations of a spouse, leading to greater than average breakups. I would also suspect that writers, accustomed to mentally exploring possibilities, would at least consider the extreme methods of breakup more often than average.
What Google search brought up this gem? At first, I thought it was a payback for your tasseled cover.
I first saw it days ago on a regular news aggregator.
I also had the same thought as Mike. I can’t imagine the mindset of anyone that murders their spouse or anyone period. Perhaps the author succumbed to a mental disorder of sorts and confused fiction with reality. It’s very sad and I can only hope she’s proven innocent of the charges.
Have they never heard of divorce. If you hate them take money or destroy something inanimate,
Hmm maybe Menopause? Can last for years and her booking photo looks a little scary.
This made me LOL!! Menopause certainly can make you look like that.
I thought it was weird that the article mentioned one of her books, ‘The Wrong Husband’. Like that title cinched it, she’s a murderess. Didn’t Agatha Christie try to frame her own hubby by disappearing and people thought she had been killed?
I’ve read Agatha disappeared for a time, I didn’t know that was the reason. Divorce would have been much harder for her to get.
…it’s the popular press? I mean, it isn’t great factual reporting, but seeing how subjects I know well are dealt with, I’d almost be ore surprised if they didn’t. (Heck, if the story has any kind of legs, there will be a web version with that in the title, because it makes great clickbait. (And news media is struggling.)
“Romance Author of ‘The Wrong Husband’ Arrested for Husband’s Murder”
…I guess the story has legs? And I should have looked through her bibliography?
From the Washington Post: Novelist who wrote about ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ charged with murdering her husband
I found this stunning. All those years of marriage, and her age, and she resorts to murder? No, no. I mean, divorce isn’t easy, but it is possible! I think someone suggested “a break from reality,” and if she did do it, I cannot believe she was in her right mind.
Well, she’s only been charged, not convicted yet. The police could be wrong. It has been known to happen.
She probably couldn’t provide an alibi. Possibly her own husband had lost the ability to ‘get it up’, so in order to research her latest book’s scenes she had to impose on the next door neighbour Mr. Willikins and was too embarrassed to say so to the police. Now, though innocent, she’s going to have her personal life detailed for the entire public to gossip over.
Also – can we all (generally, not you Moira) just acknowledge the lil old lady perception bias here? Just because she is a lil old lady doesn’t rule her out of also being an evil mastermind. I mean, she’s an author of multiple books, so I’m assuming she has some capacity to put a plot together, and then a plan to carry out that plot … just saying.
The little old lady perception bias is interesting because technically it goes two ways, right?
You’ve got the stereotypical Little Red Riding Hood Grandma, who is loved and cruelly eat by a wolf [which, if you ask academics (i.e., folklorists like me), we’ll tell you that the story of Little Red Riding Hood is most often analyzed as being about Red moving into maturity/sexual activity. It’s weird.]. We’re all supposed to react with “Poor Grandma! Our resident library of wisdom, knowledge, and confectionaries has been eaten! Woe unto us!”
Then you’ve got the cannibalistic Witch in the Candy House that tried to eat Hansel & Gretel [Which, although this story is Germanic in origin, similar stories can be seen throughout the Baltics and in parts of Russia. Baba Yaga plays the witch in the Russian one]. In this one, the little old ladies are like a horrid, corrupting influence that blights the land with their continued existence, taking up precious resources with their evil cunning.
It’s all about how you conceptualize the Crone’s role in your community, which determines your reaction to these types of things. If you’re of the Little Red group, you probably thought, “no! She couldn’t hurt a little fly!” If you’re in the Cannibalistic Witch group, you probably thought, “I knew it. Can’t trust those menopausal women. They’re crazy, I tell you! Crazy!”
These legends/stories act in two ways. The first is as a cautionary tale, full of scenarios and a kind of warning bell for certain situations. The second is as a foundation for world-perception.
Okay, that was a longer analysis than I thought it would be.
I enjoyed it 🙂
Lol me too! Thanks for that ??
Sara Joy says
Fascinating analysis Rachel! Feel free to bring your expert two cents to the table any day!!
Fun analysis. IRL, I knew a little old lady who looked perfectly harmless, and was considered so by most people who knew her. I don’t pray for most people when they die, but I pray for her soul every night.
Rachel, I enjoyed your analysis. It was very interesting to me. It also reminds me of the
Maiden/Mother/Crone discussion as a state of being.
It follows, if we all (male and female) have the child/mother/elder within us, then they can all be kind or tyrannical in each stage of our lives, depending on circumstances and the values of our community at the time of our actions.
Fun discussion, I thought.
This is so sad!! If we are judged based on what we write, fantasize about, and/or read; then I am truly in trouble in anyone ever looks at my goodreads account. I hope the police are basing her arrest on more than her books. ??♀️??♀️
That erotica (come on, let’s just call it porn) period I went through in my early 30s is going to come back to haunt me one day.
Lmao its going to haunt us all tbh!
…everything I wrote on usenet under my real name. (Which I did on purpose, in case I ever took it into my head to run for office. No possibilities of skeletons in my closets, no, it would be the all-singing, all-dancing skeleton cabaret. Not my worse idea.)
Just Jill says
Would you please run for office? You definitely have my vote. I love to read your posts.
It would also be refreshing to see a cabaret, which neither Perez Hilton or Bob Woodward had to write a book about.
(And I thought the arrested author had scary eyes. I bet no kids EVER walked on her lawn!)
It was always meant, at least in part, as a prophylactic measure. At the time I was looking at the Foreign Service, and I didn’t want to become a buttoned up hypocrite somewhere along the way, y’know? “Oh, yes, I am all about abstinence before marriage…” or whatever.
I’m not saying it would never happen, but I suspect there would generally be a factor of running for my own amusement – which I almost did once for a city council seat. Though… well, I decided not to run because so much of my motivation to run was that I was bored and the race as it existed was boring and I could change that. Ahaha, no. I mean, I’d be a horrible divisive candidate in any serious race. (A queer buddhist/pagan scientist and seriously non-traditional woman? But really, it’s going to be the smack talk.) I am looking a bit at going into science policy in a few years, but that looks like an actual sweet spot of doing the most good with the least amount of bullshit, and it all depends on what else is in the offing.
It still could happen. (It would be so much more likely if we had a parliamentary system…) A lot of women and a lot of scientists are running out of exasperation with the current state of affairs and as a general trend I am all for it.
We need more non-traditional candidates, regardless of sexual or religious orientation.
Time to pour out the current miasma of misogynistic, hateful, narsisistic, condescending, disloyal unharmonious political supposedly representative candidates at all levels, from city council to President to Parliamentarians ?.
We need a good housecleaning all around. It’s time someone who cares about more than his/her ego or legacy or let’s face it, power, ran for office. We need it desperately on every level.
I believe in you! I’ll be your campaign manager, if you ever decide to run—for anything!
In theory, I agree! I just… would hate to be in a position where I felt obligated to the people supporting me to behave well. When I’m bad I’m better.
(You aren’t my former research student of the same name, are you? Because if so I thought we agreed that you’d be the one running for office!)
Interestingly enough, Schizophrenia is the second word in her website tag phrase. Maybe she was being a bit too truthful. “Virgin Pages, Schizophrenia, and the Wastebasket, A Writer’s Life” is what’s listed on her homepage.
I saw that too! A really odd collection of comments there!
Saw this yesterday and looked her up on Amazon. Never read anything by her, but the book titles seemed prophetic especially “The Wrong Husband”. As for not looking like a murderer, I don’t believe looks have much to do with it. Anyone can snap, develop a mental illness or conceal the type of psyche that would allow them to harm another person. It’s sort of like looking at a book cover, yes? The blurb gives you a hint of what’s inside, but until you read the book you don’t know the whole story. Something no one has mentioned is perhaps there was spousal abuse on the part of the husband taking place? Food for thought.
Wow! What a beautiful Iris!
Wow, never read anything by her. But that is so insane. I’m so curious about the motive. Morbid and terrible, because if you’re in a terrible marriage hopefully you can leave without committing murder… But what does lead up to that decision?
For a minute I was worried about Gordon. You know, when you are imagining what you’re going to say to the judge, you need to get out. “I swear Your Honor, I thought his head was way harder that the fireplace poker.” That won’t help you too much.
Thanks for the pro tip!
Monica Martin says
Its really sad. I havent read anything by her personally. I looked up my lists. Its hard to tell why some people do things. We dont know what their lives were really like. Just because she writes romance doesnt mean she’s not capable of such an act. She might have been a very sweet person in her life but people hide things all the time. He could have been abusive for all we know. Thats just it we dont know. I read the article and there is no motive that was released and she’s being charged with it but who knows the evidence against her. There is doubt among her friends and family but that doesnt mean she didnt do it. She writes romantic suspense about characters leaving their husbands….sooo I dont know. She could have just wanted that and went with it by killing him. Maybe she didnt do it but I doubt that because they had enough to charge her. Sad deal all around. 🙁
I have mixed thoughts on this. An arrest is not a conviction. Police have to have a reasonable amount of evidence for an arrest despite what television states. Her web site is odd! The information that she provided about herself is odd! Even if you screen out the arrest it’s odd! She hasn’t written very much at all so I haven’t read her material. Still all that oddity is probably not the evidence they have and using the titles of her books is probably just the media. It’s too silly to present to a judge.
On a side note I love Ilona’s response at the top! Gordon is deeply loved by Ilona! That’s wonderful! My parents worked together for decades in their own small business! It was wonderful and they loved each other deeply!
OMG. My nephew is a recent graduate of that culinary school and I remember how upset he was when he told me one of his favorite instructors had been murdered.
He’s pretty glad they have a suspect in custody.
One of my good friends went to that school in the late 90s and had him as instructor. She was very saddened by his death and went to the memorial service. It’s was several months after he was murdered that she was arrested. My friend was shocked but we assume they have some evidence…
I had never even heard of her and I live in Washington state. But I’m not really a romance reader. But honestly, just get a divorce. I don’t think anybody is worth a life in jail.
OK, am I the only one who thought this was Madam Frost’s revenge story about Ilona and Gordon? ?
Seems like her thing is just “The wrong…” a goodly portion of her titles start that way, am not reading too much into it. I bet she is wishing she had picked a different theme right now though.
It almost seems too on the nose, if I was going to murder my husband I would have avoided writing a series titled “The Wrong Husband”.
If she is innocent, the amount of suck this would add to her life on top of grieving his loss would be huge.
If she is guilty, she is probably sweating out her title choices.
Actually… either way, she is sweating her title choices.
And wow does she look angry in that picture, I would hate to have my angriest-guilty looking photo used along with an ‘implied’ murder accuasation by the media.
Hopefully, all those (potential) new book sales are enough to cover a good lawyer.
The article says she mourned her husband at his funeral by saying “Daniel was one of the few people I’ve ever known who did exactly what he wanted in life and loved doing it.” Wow…. when reading that while imagining that she might have killed him it sure does sound a lot darker, huh? Because that really does not have to be a good thing to say about a person. At all.
I noticed that too. Sometimes when you really know the person, the eulogy sounds completely different than it otherwise would.
Gloria Magid says
I had seen this earlier. Never read any of her work. Did wonder about motive, assuming she did kill him. Was he abusive? Did he cheat on her? The news articles don’t give a lot of details. And of course, she’s only accused, not proven guilty. I think focusing on her book titles is silly. She writes romantic suspense. Putting “wrong” in a lot of her titles provides a kind of name recognition for her readers, rather like “in death” does for Nora Roberts’ J.D. Robb books. I thought her mug shot made her look old and tired. We’ll have to see how this plays out.
I agree with you about the book titles. And I think saying someone does or doesn’t look like a murderer is silly. One’s appearance does not show everything. Remember don’t judge a book by its cover?
Weird is right!! First and foremost thing I told myself after reading the article was that she is simply charged at this point, not convicted. Innocent until proven guilty, right? With trying to keep an open mind, I went back and reread the article, then found her website and read what I could find there. I also googled her and read current information there about her, and about this situation. I was struck by a couple of things. The, rather unfortunate, picture posted of her in conjunction with this article looks to me like a woman who is maybe a bit deranged. The expression on her face, coupled with the look in her eyes, appears to me to be a woman who is either crazy or extremely furious at that moment and trying not to show it. I don’t know under what circumstances that photo was taken, plus I have even seen photos taken of me (unbeknownst to me at the time it was taken), that catch me with a look on my face that did NOT reflect my mood or thoughts of that moment – it just happened to catch an odd look in that brief instant it was taken. When I read what she had written on her website, I was struck be the same caption others have mentioned, which included the word schizophrenia, supposedly in reference to herself (either as a writer or just a person – who knows?). If you read carefully what she has to say about her husband, well I will just say I didn’t come away with an impression that she loved him, let alone even liked him. She might simply have a way with words that I am not sympathetic with. My determination to remember “Innocent until found guilty” was definitely difficult to hold onto at this point. I love my husband, and although we VERY occasionally have a difference of opinion about something, I would never think to mention that when describing him or our relationship. I mention his good qualities when speaking with others about him, NOT just giving a list of a few things he likes, (I.e. mushrooms)!! If you get a chance, check out her website for yourself, and read what she wrote in the “About” section. After this brief digging, unfortunately my opinion now is that she is a slightly deranged woman who was unhappy in her marriage but didn’t want to either admit it to herself and/or publicly. Of course, this is just bias based on very little, so I am interested in seeing what evidence the police have that prompted her arrest. I find this sad indeed, but morbidly interesting, and will now have to follow this in the news! ??
Hm, for me it would make a difference if I had read her books or not. I tend to re-read stories I love and if I then find out that the author is someone I find to be a monster (murderer, pedophile, etc) I will never ever read those stories again and would certainly not buy another book from them. Same with music. I used to love songs by artists who then turned out to be rapists, pedophiles, etc. and I can’t listen to those songs again without negative feelings.
As a teenager I LOVED the Sword and Sorceress anthologies and just about all books by Marion Zimmer Bradley. A few years later I found about about the child abuse going on in her home and her role in it … and well, it has ruined all her works for me, and most of the works of her protegees. I can’t condone furthering the career of someone I find reprehensible.
OMG – I was unaware of the MZB situation. Your post promoted me to investigate. Several hours of reading later (multiple sources) I don’t know what to say but appaling. I just finished reading two poems the daughter wrote and my heart simply hurts from her words, an interview with her brother, and the unbelieveable view of what’s ok to do to children and WHY.
As for this woman accused of killing her husband… yes, its not a flattering image but its not fair of me to judge her on that. Yes, some of her words are disconcerting. No, I cannot judge based on her book series starting with ‘the wrong’. We do not judge JD Robb for writing ‘in death’.
This is a reminder to be careful, be kind, listen for pain, protect our children and ourselves. Seek help. We have the right to an opinion – we do not have the right to impose it on others.
I won’t buy or read anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley any more (and thank you for an earlier blog discussion some time ago that alerted me to the child abuse issue). I do, however, read the work of people she may have worked with on their writing who have no connection that I am aware of with child abuse or any other abuse. Are there others who themselves are abusive that I should be aware of?
Few people know what goes on in a marriage/relationship behind closed doors. Just read an article about Alison Hernandez the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall (UK) who was in an abusive relationship for over 2 years before she felt able to report it.
That’s horrible. Whenever I read something like this, I really wonder why women feel this way. Why stay with an abuser for years? Why be ashamed to report it – you didn’t do anything wrong, you were wronged. Where does this psychological barrier to say the truth and put the blame on the abuser instead of on themselves come from?
I asked my mother that question once. “Why did you stay with him?” She replied that she remembered the man she’d married. That relationship to the man that was, was simply more important to her than the health and wellbeing of herself, and/or her four children.
Well … that’s a very absolute way of describing it. She _almost_ left him a number of times, but always at the last minute talked her self out of it. So whether her relationship with her husband was more important than other considerations I suppose was a close line-ball sort of thing. Which doesn’t say much considering the things she ended up allowing him to do to her. Frogs and slowly heated pots comes to mind.
But that of course was her excuse, or reasoning. Other woman probably have different ‘reasoning’.
I dunno. I think maybe it was also in part because that it was the only relationship that she felt was solid and could rely on in this world. For her own value of what _rely_ is of course. I found out later that her relationship to her own parents was very strained because of issues _they_ had with their own relationship. And the cycle continues.
But we really don’t know that this lil old woman and her husband had those kind of issues at all so this conversation is kind of getting away from us. ?
“But we really don’t know that this lil old woman and her husband had those kind of issues at all so this conversation is kind of getting away from us.”
One of the biggest reasons they stay is that abusers are really good at calculating how and when to apologizing and saying it will never happen again. They are like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. The abuse occurs in a cycle with apologizing, making up, and being on good behavior, before frustrations start to mount again and they choose to blow up. They almost never choose to blow up at a moment when someone who has power to stop them is on the scene. You can time the cycles.
The other big reason they stay is like the frog in the pot. Throw the frog in boiling water and it will jump out. Throw the frog in a pot at a comfortable temperature and turn the heat on, and the frog doesn’t always notice in time to escape. Abusers are fantastically good at convincing their victims that it’s the victim’s fault for provoking the abuser; that no one will believe them – and often they’re correct, because the abuser presents a rational face to the world; that no one else but the abuser cares about the victim; that the victim can’t survive without the abuser; that the victim deserves only what the abuser chooses to give out.
If someone was abused by their parents as a child, abuse may feel like love to them. Those who were never abused as children often can’t believe it when someone starts to act abusively. When they first notice, it might be directed at someone other than them, like wait staff. They make excuses for it or rationalize it. They can’t believe that this person, whom they find so attractive, could really be this way, so clearly there is some mistake.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
Another reason people stay is they are trapped financially or by the abusers access to the children (ie visitation…)
+1 When someone shows you who they are believe them… and run -don’t walk- to the nearest exit!
I think, both from my own experiences and from what I’ve read and heard from the experiences of others (both men and women), that aside from the financial and safety barriers to leaving, the experience of being in an abusive relationship is often a lot more complicated and confusing than how it is portrayed from the outside. Especially in terms of the power dynamics – there’s a tendency to focus on the power of an abuser, which, I suppose, seems obvious. But they’re often sad and pathetic and messed up – legitimately so, whether or not this is also been used as a manipulative ploy. I hear a lot about apologies. I know a lot about long conversations and promises. I hear a lot about wanting to take care of them. (I don’t think that was totally what I was about…)
Was my marriage abusive? I don’t know.
If I look at a lot of the inventories, I can go down the list, and for the vast majority of things, the answer is “He tried it.” Not all at once – we were together for a dozen years. Starting with pretty minor things – trying to get into my mail, my email, take control of my finances, drive me apart from my friends and family, etc. etc. – and for the most part I was kind of oblivious, but I also had really healthy boundaries, and just figured that if I was firm, and modeled healthy adult relationship behavior (which I thought I knew!) he’d get a clue.
And whoa, I just wrote a tome, and I’m not pasting it all here. TL;DR, it escalated through stages to attempted sexual assault, and physical assault that ended with him pinned in a corner. And yet, despite all the advantages I had, I was tangled up with this guy for a dozen years. Yeah, I’m really stubborn, but… I’m pretty sure that was too many? And this is someone who has a lot going for him (and is certainly – or at least was certainly – a lot better looking than me) but generally isn’t really in my league. Something I didn’t really think about until after he fruck out so badly and I started wondering why, BTW.
War being a state of mind, and the study of zen.
I think I can see what connection sparked your brain connections there, Tylikcat.
So few people left who dealt with the happenings of and aftermath that followed the World Wars. Every time I hear of another passing I mourn a little more. Mostly because of what we as humans clearly haven’t learnt from it given what we’re still doing today and so soon having that living history to lean on will be lost to us. For whatever attention we give it.
As to this arsehat you’ve outlined. I’m aware that I can’t truly comprehend a person or a relationship from the few paragraphs given, but from what you’ve said-
He lacked strength of character.
He saw that you had it.
He tried to leech yours away and make it his own.
You deserve better.
As to looks..? I’ve seen the supposedly most aesthetically pleasing faces say the cruelest things with an expectant little smile on their face as if it’s their right to say such things and we should kiss their soles just for having being gifted their words. I’ve seen the most aesthetically ugly faces with moles and hairs in the worst possible places light up like coming home to bear hug just when they smile and say hello.
Fuck this ‘pursuit of homogenised beauty ideals’ world.
I see someone ‘beautiful’ in an obviously fake (ie make up) way and I immediately start looking for the exits. I don’t trust ’em.
Give me people with character and a kind heart any frickin’ day of the week.
And a cuppa tea.
Oh, I have a really complicated and fucked up family of origin. People who did in fact make my ex look fairly good? At least, my ex as I first got to know him. But then, a lot of them are also more interesting than my ex turned out to be. And I think one of his frustrations with me is that I was so unimpressed when he went off into giant rages (which only developed some years into our relationship). He’d rant and rave, and I’d be all “This isn’t really relevant to what we were discussing. Though if you want to talk about your feelings, I’m up for that – feelings are important. I’m not impressed by intimidation or abuse, though.” (Yeah, I said things like that. Calmly, if not always kindly. I really don’t like it when people try to intimidate me.)
But mostly I was just really interested in people, and that all the people who did whatever things, call them good or bad, are people, and had their reasons for doing what they did. (Going back to when I was pretty young.) I had friends whose parents were interred during WWII – and mostly didn’t talk about it. And a lot of people who fought in WWII, including a lot of family. I read whatever I could get my hands on, and listened to people’s stories – all kinds of stories. I mean, people were always doing crazy shit, but you could usually understand why, eventually. Probably a saving grace for me – there’s a, ah, strong argument that our father is a sociopath. I usually go with “likely the most amoral person I know” (including the schoolmate who has a diagnosis of sociopathy). Which is super reassuring when professional colleagues of his (or now, ours) are all “Aren’t you just a chip off the old block!”
My ex didn’t have integrity… but I think he also didn’t have much of a grasp of who I was. (Specifically, he’d convinced me not to pursue a career with the State Dept. and settle down, and I think he assumed I’d then always be a professional also ran.) He told me that he thought he “should” be better at tech and martial arts, because I was good at so many other things. But the flip side is that we both had careers in tech, and martial arts was the primary thing we did together. I would support and encourage him to the best of my ability (…and handled salary negotiations for him more than once) but I wasn’t going to do worse to make him feel better. It’s also not like he wasn’t excelling – hell, his last couple of job titles have been “principle software architect” type things. He doesn’t tend to last at one place very long, probably because he creeps people out, but his work is excellent. When we were together, I was off doing program management and performance analysis stuff – being threatened by me was optional.
When I mention his looks… I’m not running down my own. I mean, I’m decent enough looking, if not, as they say, in the current mode. He was flipping gorgeous, if a bit of a pretty boy – and had been doing pretty intensive Hung Gar, so, yum. This probably contributed to some clouded decision making on my part? But things really did look good at the beginning. Ah, those early long afternoons of me working on translations for chinese lit. and him on mathematical physics, then we’d hop into bed, then back to work. That part was great 🙂 And the early career work and home buying and stuff was pretty fun, too.
One nice thing about the time I spent living as a monk is that it did really give me a chance to get my head together. I like your list.
If you’re interested, read Dreamland by Sarah Dessen. It’s a YA novel about a teenage girl in an abusive relationship. I find that it shows wonderfully, viscerally how a relationship like that can develop and also what factors in the victim’s life might lead to her becoming a victim in the first place.
Thank you all for your insightful comments and sharing of your own stories. I still don’t really get it, probably because I’ve been lucky not to ever get together with a manipulator.
The one guy who tried to be violent with me hit me exactly once. Full stop, called the cops, called the ambulance, had him prosecuted and cut out of my life. But that was violence without any preceding mental manipulation / leeching. And I suppose it’s way easier to convincingly accuse someone of domestic abuse when you have a shiner like Mike Tyson and a lose tooth from just one hit … Psychological damage is almost impossible to prove, if you are examined by the wrong expert.
I’m going to read the suggested book, it sounds interesting and enlightening.
Good for you. I recommend you also look up the term “cycle of abuse” on Wikipedia. There is a workmanlike description of the mechanics there. If it were all abuse, all the time, no one would stay with their abuser. And every female, and every male who has encountered abuse or harassment, and anyone in general who has friends or relatives who have experienced them, should read Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift Of Fear. IMO it should be required reading in high school.
Ack! Why do I have this feeling she is suddenly going to sell many books????
I don’t know about that. Her website is way creepy. In the first paragraph of the about pages she talks about writers being liars and how her picture is a lie. She also speaks weirdly of her husband. Really weirdly. Skin crawlingly weirdly.
Her prose is also off. She’s not a particularly popular author (it seems) and I can see some reasons why.
Sooo… Everyone has been mulling over motive . . .
How’s this for a turn into left field?
I live in Portland, OR
I used to work at the Scottish Rite building, where the Oregon Culinary Institute held their graduation ceremonies (OMG! THE FOOOOOOD!)
To quote my Southern Ancestors … “This is all so upsetting”…
The worst part is, I probably met the man, at one of those graduations (the faculty always attended), and I just don’t remember. I find myself feeling very guilty about that … Shouldn’t be be walking thru my memory with a bold red circle around his face.
How sad 🙁 Two things come to mind. I remember reading a book but can’t for the life of me remember the name, where the sympathetic older neighbor in an apartment who was always feeding the POV baked goods ended up killing her husband cause he was an ass about her cooking and she got tired of it. She baked a pie with poison in it, told him it was for someone else, he had always snitched her food she made for other people so she knew he’d eat it when she left the house. He did and died. The POV had to be the one who caught her. That was the B storyline. Dang, now that will bother me to remember the name of the book.
The other thing is, wouldn’t it be sad if the police arrested her based on her book searches. You know how authors are always joking about weird things on the google history?
That was one of the In Death books, no idea which one as it was a side character not the main Villain.
Thank you. It’s odd cause somehow I also remember a scene in the same book where the POV fights a monster in the basement with the help of yet another neighbor who was a retired cop who didn’t know paranormal existed. I must be confusing two stories.
Yeah, you are, Vin, because the first was definitely in an early In Death book. It was so well written, because the wife just kept saying, I had told him not to eat it. And her son (?) was a lawyer, so Eve figured she was going to get off.
That second one…I remember it too! Wasn’t there some kind of slime involved? This is going to drive me crazy till I figure it out.
Dang it, I loved the side story in the “In Death” book, but for the life of me can’t remember which one it was!
Are you maybe mixing in the story when Andrea rescued her neighbor from the basement, where some spider monster had dragged him and his dog (Brutus?), which was when he found out she was a shifter? (another dangit – WHAT was this storys name? *argggh*)
HA! – It was the first book in the series, Naked in Death. Mrs. Finestine poisoned off her husband with a pie she specifically told him not to eat.
Marian Bernstein says
I guess psychopaths get old, too. Who knows what she may have done when she was younger.
Debi Majo says
Looks like the titles of her books all have “wrong” in them. Very interesting.
I used to teach Shakespeare at a Maximum Security Penitentiary, where roughly 50 percent of the students in my class where in for murder. There are two truths I can share with you. 1) Any human being is capable of murder under the right (wrong) circumstances. There is no such thing as a “murderer’s mind.” 2) There is no way to identify a murderer by the way the look. They look like the rest of us. That said, premeditated murder is not as common as crimes of impulse. Premeditation, of course, is not necessarily the same as killing in cold blood. You can reread Othello for the proof of that. And, yes, many of my students saw themselves in Othello.
This is _not_ a book plug, (and Ilona, if you think it’s cheesy for me to even mention this, feel free to delete this sentence from the posting) but if you want to know more about how murderers really think, you can read Macbeth for Murderers.
ITA with this post, with the caveat that some people are more/less likely to murder than others. Empathy and impulse control matter.
Roberta Kerwin says
I agree. Also background–abusive parents–and substance abuse. But not economic class or education. My students ranged from gang bangers to a Wharton Mba.
Ah, but when we start discussing such influencing factors people who’ve lived a life of privilege – which is to say, at least to my mind, a life without violence or poverty – tend to then start thinking that ONLY people with these influencing factors in their background will be capable of such deeds. They, who have lived such sensible lives would never do such things. They aren’t like those other savages. It always comes back to finding a way to delineate the self from the atrocities of others. ‘I could never do that’.
And then of course we get things like profiling.
It’s what you said Roberta, any human is capable of murder.
The saying goes ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’. Most people tend to take that in a positive, reach-for-the-stars mentality, but it goes both ways.
I’ve found myself unable to forget an interview that American 60 minutes did a while back with the last living Nuremberg prosecutor – Ben Ferencz – who’s getting on a bit and probably isn’t going to be with us much longer.
The exchange was:
Stahl: ‘Did you meet a lot of people who perpetrated war crimes who would otherwise in your opinion have been just a normal, upstanding citizen?’
Ferencz: ‘Of course, is my answer. These men would never have been murderers had it not been for the war. These were people who could quote Goethe, who loved Wagner, who were polite…’
Stahl: ‘What turns a man into a savage beast like that?’
Ferencz: ‘He’s not a savage. He’s an intelligent, patriotic human being.’
Stahl: ‘He’s a savage when he does the murder though.’
Benjamin Ferencz: ‘No. He’s a patriotic human being acting in the interest of his country, in his mind.’
Lesley Stahl: ‘You don’t think they turn into savages even for the act?’
Benjamin Ferencz: ‘Do you think the man who dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima was a savage? Now I will tell you something very profound, which I have learned after many years. War makes murderers out of otherwise decent people. All wars, and all decent people.’
War is sometimes just a state of mind, and that’s all it takes.
The founder of the zen center the zendo I live in is affiliated with, Philip Kapleau, was a court reporter for both the Nuremberg Trials, and the Tokyo War Crime Trials, both of which experiences were instrumental in his decision to take up Zen practice.
(And and then I grope around trying to articulate a connection which is obvious to me, but…) All those experiences shaped the world that later generations grew up in. I mean, atrocities of one kind of another were recurring themes in my academic work when I was still doing international poli-econ (and my tastes in historical reading in my earlier years often trended kind of dark)… and some of that was the surrounding culture, and some of that was probably me trying to understand why people would do horrible things, I guess on both the micro- and macro-scale. I’d already seen a lot on a micro-scale, and there’s nothing like studying nineteenth and twentienth century poli-econ to get a sense for political movements and massive body counts.
Thank you for posting this, Kate. Dehumanizing criminals is a reassuring but completely erroneous exercise.
Wow what a judgmental lot!!
I’d like to see what evidence they have before assuming anything. All we know is that they decided to arrest her which, unfortunately, sometimes doesn’t mean much in terms of the evidence the police have. Will definitely follow this story, I need to know! Lol
I do think that throwing in the title of her book, “The Wrong Husband” seems manipulative on the part of the article, to make it more sensational than it is. A lot of her books start with “The Wrong…”
Is it messed up that I have a morbid desire to read at least one of her books now?
Ilona: Redacted for advertising spell casting doctors in lieu of marriage therapy.
This is a first.
When I first saw the posting I thought it was the premise of a book Ilona was recommending.
I’ve never heard of this woman or her books. I think this situation is incredibly sad and very creepy. Does anyone watch ID discovery channel?Lots of true crime stories with very ordinary looking people.
Very sad and strange. A coworker of mine in college was once arrested for murder. Turned out he did it. Jealousy. He has on the small side and had a squeaky clean appearance. Before the trial, he kept offering to show us how he wasn’t strong enough to kill anyone. That was super creepy.
Regarding a novelist being arrested for murder of their S.O., I am reminded of “Strong Poison”.
How did you feel when he was convicted? Did he ever confess?
I’ve met quite a lot of criminals while working in court, but no murderer (thankfully, maybe?, hopefully?). A lot of those people seemed like very normal, decent persons … and a lot of them were easily recognizable as having been in prison before. The contrast was jarring, to say the least.
Completely morbid of me but when I read all those “The Wrong X” titles, followed by the:
“He was a person who did what he loved: he loved teaching, he loved mushrooms, he loved his family.”
I immediately thought about Brian – the mushroom mage, Rinda’s husband from 3rd Hidden Legacy and his only one social account Pinterest with pictures of mushrooms.
Obviously, this is tainted, coming from a mycologist, but when I think of mycologists (and chefs!) I’ve known and loved, the image of a chef and culinary arts instructor who drags his students into the woods on foraging trips to share his love of wild mushrooms… seems like a pretty different character than what we know of Brian!
Your pantry is so nice! My “pantry” is a lower kitchen cupboard that I keep completely full. You can stack it 6 cans high, 10 cans deep and 20 cans wide. It’s my security blanket in a way. I get anxious if it starts to form holes 🙂 I’m not sure where the belief comes from, but as long as it’s full I won’t get hungry. Not that I ever have gone hungry but it’s a cheap form of security.
Only I can find things in it. My husband doesn’t try, even though his cans are in front on the top row.
I’m not sure how this comment got here…
“He was a person who did what he loved: he loved teaching, he loved mushrooms, he loved his family.”
That’s so sad 🙁