Personally, I'm fascinated by the human mind. Always have been. I want to know what makes other people tick. Hell, I even majored in psychology when I first went to college. (Until the thought of actually working with the insane creeped me out too bad to envision a future in the field.) Only in the last ten years or so I've switched from wanting to know what goes on in the average individual's head to wanting to explore what makes up the criminal mind.
Oh, I have my theories. I employ some of them in my writing, but I really have no data to back them up. Just a thought or two and some personal experience to make my fictional characters real.
I also watch a lot of crime TV. On any given day, you can find me watching at least an hour or two of a true crime show. Dateline, 48 hours, anything on Investigation Discovery, Cold Justice, Cold Case Files... You get the gist. I love the show The Killer Speaks because they actually talk to killers, so you get a glimpse into what's going on in their heads.
Recently, I picked up a copy of Inside the Criminal Mind by Stanton Samenow. I only just started reading it, but already, it's brilliant. He's been studying criminals since the year I was born, so I'm guessing he pretty much knows what he's talking about.
I like to think my killers ring true already, but I want to make them better. I want them to be more believable. And the best way to do that - short of becoming a criminal myself - is to study them. I want to know what turns a perfect, potentially normal baby into a killer, so I can bring them to your living room in the totally safe pages of a book.
And then, of course, I want to catch them and either kill them in my books or see them locked away forever between the pages of a novel.
Or like I told another writer years ago - Crime writers are the safest people to be around in the world. We let out all our aggressions on paper rather than in real life. ;o)
Why do you read or write crime fiction?