Saturday, April 28, 2012

Writing CRAZY

Conjuring a serial killer is an interesting pastime. To make a killer real requires delving into parts of oneself that perhaps one doesn’t wish to examine. Then again…

Who hasn’t given over to a nasty flight of fancy when somebody out there really pissed them off? It isn’t something we necessarily share with others, these evil imaginings, but we’ve all engaged in it at least once and probably more than any of us would care to admit. When writing a killer, especially a seriously deranged killer, those flights of fancy are a mere stepping off point and pretty soon, take on a life of their own upon the page. 

My killer begins slowly, with a nasty little missive sent in the Christmas mail. The serial killer inside hasn’t yet been born, but it is gestating and has been gestating since age ten when my killer squeezed the family pet canary to death and then went to the kitchen for some milk and cookies. Jealousy is the fuel that fires the killer and as my protagonist, Emily Simonson, becomes more and more successful, the killer becomes more and more enraged. Taking the leap from killing a canary to torturing and killing women who look like Emily is a journey that I, as an author, had to imagine, construct and make plausible. So I had to get inside the head of my killer, and let the reader know what is going on inside that head.

For example:

    Let’s see, what kind of message would make a lasting impression on Little Miss I’m So Fucking Special? Or maybe I should amend that to Big Miss. A giggle there. God, she is so... so... large. Big bones, big frame, big fucking head, thinking she’s so much better than anyone else. Miss Look At Me I’m On Television. No, don’t go off on a tangent, just stick to what’s important, and what’s important here is to make her squirm. Like a worm. Squirm like a worm.
    Laughing again. Picking up the telephone and dialing the number and waiting. Waiting to hear that oh so perky greeting. But instead of her annoying voice there’s that chiming noise from the phone company and then a computer-generated message. “We’re sorry but the number you have dialed is no longer in service. Please check your directory and dial again.” Feverishly depressing the hang-up button and redialing only to hear the same message. Slamming down the phone, in a temper now. 
    She changed her number! The fucking bitch changed her number! Thinks she can escape that easy, huh? Well, we’ll just see about that!  But how? What can I do? 
    Pacing back and forth, twirling a lock of hair. Tighter and tighter until the pain comes. Like it’s being pulled out at the roots. Twisting it tighter yet. Trying to think but thought is so difficult under the circumstances. Feeling so all alone and misunderstood. 
    “We’ll have to make quite an impression on her this time.” The voice of the Guardian, so silky smooth and soft, whispering. “You have to let her know she’s dealing with someone who means business.”
    A feeling of relief. No longer alone. Now there’s someone who knows what to do, who can offer advice. Who can plan. Thank God there’s someone who knows.
    What should I do? How can I let her know that?
    “It’s all in the details.”
    What kind of details?
    A moaning sound, almost like an orgasm, an expression of sublime pleasure. “Oh, all sorts of details. Come, learn at the feet of the master.”
    “We are about to change Little Miss Emily’s life.”
    A wince as the hated name scrapes the eardrums much as fingernails drawn across a chalkboard.
   “Are you prepared?”
    “Then let us begin.”

I got about three quarters of the way through writing CRAZY when I thought perhaps I’d better see how my serial killer stood up to the real thing. It was eye opening. So many of the things I had my killer do were the hallmarks of some of the more famous serial killers of our time, even though I hadn’t been aware of their actions. It’s kind of scary in a way, but it’s also exhilarating because it tells me that my imagination is steering me right and ultimately, the story will have the ring of truth, albeit a strange and awful truth. Then it will be up to you, the reader, to decide whether my efforts make the grade.

You can check out my forthcoming novel and read a couple of chapters here:

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