Tag Archives: professional detachment

“Writing about Criminals” by T. Fox Dunham


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 some bastard named T. Fox Dunham takes over my blog. Fox resides outside of Philadelphia PA. His first novel The Street Martyr was published by Gutter Books this October, followed Professional Detachment, a literary erotica from Bitten Press. He’s a cancer survivor. His friends call him fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time. Site: www.tfoxdunham.com.  Twitter: @TFoxDunham

What the hell did you have to say then, Fox?

T Fox - 30th Street Station B&W

“Writing about Criminals”

T. Fox Dunham

(With Louie Fedder –Imagined Criminal Pug-Asshole)

I selected a crime story as my first novel, The Street Martyr, because I needed characters that would act outside of the law, the social compact that we all sign when we are born into a civilization: Respect each other’s shit. Don’t stab someone in the heart. Pay taxes. We all spin round the merry-go-round together with shit-eating-grins. I was doing quite well as a horror author before I turned to crime writing, and I made this change because I had a philosophical requirement to employ literary devices that represented the themes and causes I needed to represent in my art. I’m a Bard. Writing is a spiritual mission for me, one to aid and heal and help. Horror couldn’t do this for me as well as literary-crime writing.

“Won’t you shut the fuck up?” Louie just said to me, clutching his metal bar in the pocket of his green Eagle’s hoodie. “Always fucking talking, but you don’t say shit.”

I look at him and ask him: “All right asshole. Why am I always writing about you two jerk-offs?”

“Because we’re rebels, heroes. Robin ‘Fucking’ Hood.”

“Robin ‘Fucking Hood,’” I asked. “When the hell did you ever give something back?”

“We’re the assholes doing the stuff everyone wishes they could. We break society’s rules. We fuck up the system. Working stiffs have protect the shit they got. But we stick a cactus up the government’s ass. People love to read about us. They want to be us, but they’ve got families and cars and shit.”

“I don’t want to be you,” I said.

“And you need us to do the necessary evil against evil. Like you did in that shitty book you wrote about us.”

“I did need you. There is evil in the world that is protected by a fair and balanced system. Our law and order paradigm punishes, but it’s often too late. People are hurt. The damage is done. And often the offender is free to wound again. We don’t live in a perfect world, and at least in our stories we control the villains. You possess a freedom most of us do not possess, and you risk your own freedom for it. You have torn up the social compact . . .”

“And wiped our asses with it.”