The death penalty in books? Not in any of mine. I tend to avoid any controversial topics, including gun control, abortion, and anything else that makes people raise their voices or turn an unhealthy shade of purple when they hammer home their viewpoint.
That’s not to say all books should avoid these topics. In fact, the death penalty can be a fantastic launching off point for books that want to explore the issue in depth and open people’s eyes to both sides. But those aren’t the types of books I write.
My goal when I craft a story is to entertain the reader. I’d like to think they’re transported to Blossom Valley as they read about Dana and her latest adventures. For a little while, perhaps the reader will forget about that waiting pile of dirty laundry or the dinner that isn’t getting prepared because they’re too busy trying to help Dana solve a murder.
Talking about the death penalty, or any other hot-button issue, has the potential to shatter that imaginary world. Instead of wondering if Dana just found a clue, the reader might forget about the story altogether as they either nod in agreement with how Dana feels about the death penalty or feel their blood pressure rise in opposition.
For people who live and breathe political issues, the best case scenario when reading the book would be to disagree with the character’s stance and be mildly annoyed for the rest of the story. The worst case scenario finds the reader vowing to never pick up another book in the series.
That’s why I tend to avoid any issue that might snap the reader out of a book and get them upset. This policy is also good advice for holiday meals. Nobody wants to see Uncle Fred get hit in the head with a turkey leg when he says the wrong thing.
Except maybe Aunt Martha.