Because I write crime fiction with hopeful endings, a compelling central crime must be each story’s focus. The news of the day generally provides more than enough plot fodder, suggesting kernels of human behavior that might make a good novel after I work with them a while. My challenge is to understand how we behave and why and then write a better story and a better ending than the one real life might deliver.
Four years ago, our local news seemed to have more than the usual number of reported traffic fatalities. Each time, grief vultures of all types swooped down upon the families. Defeating the vultures who prey on us in tough times became the soul of my story.
Last month, Fatal Distraction was published. Interviews at the launch and reader questions about the story brought traffic crashes to mind again. Despite all of our driving safety education efforts, too many reports of fatal crashes continue to fill our small town paper.
Of course, the causes aren’t as devious as the stalking killer in my new book. No, in real life, a common and predictable cause is almost always at fault for traffic crashes, workplace accidents, in-home injuries, and more.
Did you know our own distraction is the true culprit? We are missing a great deal of what goes on around us and we have no clue we’re missing as much as we are. Who knew the human brain can only effectively focus on one thing at a time? Multi-tasking is a humbug.
The Invisible Gorilla Experiment proved that the more our focused attention is required, the less attention we have for distractions. Take a look:
Driving is already a divided-attention task. Add cell phones, music, and passengers, and what you have is an opportunity for disaster. And you don’t have to be a teenager to be guilty. Driving while eating, applying makeup, chatting with passengers, organizing kids, and a very long list of other activities can be disastrous.
Talking on the cell phone while walking down the sidewalk has produced some serious falls. Falling asleep on a heating pad; leaving unattended candles burning; missing the last step and falling to the ground. All of these injuries result from distraction.
Please remember the invisible gorilla, okay? He’s there — whether we see him or not — so let’s be sure we don’t get distracted.