Tag Archives: malice in blunderland

“Criminals Are Us” by Jonny Gibbings


I’ve asked a number of authors I admire to answer the same question–why do criminals fascinate us so much?–and I will be posting each response here on my blog. It’s a question all writers–especially crime writers–should consider every once in a while. In my debut novel, Toxicity, I’ve dug deep into the minds of criminals. I have written about the bad guys. The ones we love but hate at the same time. If you haven’t pre-ordered a copy yet, I highly recommend you doing so for purely selfish reasons.

And now that you’ve done that, we will pass the time hearing what other writers in the industry have to say about the posed question.

Today I’ve given Jonny Gibbings control of the wheel. Homeless at fourteen, prison by eighteen, Jonny Gibbings endured a violent and difficult start to life, resulting in being illiterate until late teens. With a distorted world view, his first book, the shock-comedy Malice in Blunderland, was well received. However, it was his mini-memoir that received critical acclaim and a ‘Pushcart’ nomination. Lyrical and thought provoking pieces for Thunderdome and Revolt illustrate a deep and thought provoking side that can only be the product of painful experience. Jonny Gibbings was described as ‘schizophrenic’ by film and television producer Kieron Hawkes, due to his extremes of comedy and sensitive writing. He lives in Billingshurst, UK. His newest book is Remember to Forget.

Have at it, Jonny.


We are all criminals.

We like to think we are not, but we are.

All of us speed in cars, have stolen stuff from work or used the automatic check-out in the supermarket and when an item hasn’t scanned we’ve slipped it into the bag anyway. There are some laws such as these that we can ignore, or bend or pretend we didn’t know. If we are honest with ourselves, we got a little kick out of it. When slipping that un-scanned item into your shopping bag, you got a little buzz. You pretend to do it by accident, wonder if you were noticed, nonchalantly looking about with pseudo-boredom as you try to see where the checkout assistant is, rehearsing the ‘Oh my, I’m so sorry I didn’t know, I’m in such a hurry’ excuses in your head.

We all have the darkness in us, the ability to be bad. And that is what makes criminals so fascinating. Most of us don’t plan to break the law, we don’t jump in the car and plan to speed or to steal the tube of toothpaste, but when the opportunity presents, we take it.

And each of us have also thought about how to kill someone, I don’t mean sat down to plan a murder, but when in the shower or driving, our subconscious brain wanders and we have considered how to get away with murder.

We are all darker than we’d care to admit. I think criminals fascinate us, because as criminals ourselves we recognise quickly what we wouldn’t do, but understand the risk and how attractive it would be to get away with a perfect crime. We’ve all asked ourselves what wouldn’t we do and in doing so acknowledge there are those who are all darkness, thy have no scale and will do anything to achieve their aim, even kill.

Then there are those who kill for fun, just as kleptomaniacs steal for fun, there are some that killing is just entertainment.

Then those who kill for money. These people exist, as an adult we don’t need the sandman or the bogeyman, because we have burglars and murderers and they are real.

Just as seals follow great white sharks as if taunting them, they do it so that they know where the sharks are, I thing our fascination with criminals is the same. Kids read about monsters and demons, the books don’t try to convince them the monsters are real, only that they can be beat. I think we read crime for the same reason, acknowledging there are bad people out there, and they can be caught.