Serial Killers

Once that you’ve decided on a killing, first you make a stone of your heart. And if you find that your hands are still willing, then you can turn a murder into art. – The Police

It’s good to blog about things in real life that are important elements in your books.

My wife and I have been watching Netflix’s Mindhunters, and we just finished the first season. It’s a 2017 show, so there is no second season, yet. After that cliffhanger,¬† they’d better start filming season two.

My unofficial minor in college was Psychology, and I’ve had an interest in abnormal psych since high school. What makes deviant minds tick? Why do they draw outside the lines? How are they able to do things that our programming tells us is unthinkable? Undoable?

I’ve been intrigued that the show has been exploring the different types of serial killers, rather than just following one or two. And there’s such an amazing difference between crimes of passion, of vanity, and of opportunity.

The serial killer in my book Wrapt stumbles upon his first killing. He wasn’t planning to commit murder. But the victim dies and it changes him.

The question the show’s investigators try to answer is: How do you discern at what point someone has crossed over to the perspective that it’s okay to kill?

Morbidly fascinating stuff.

Advertisements

Rewriting History

I spent an hour or so last night cutting blog posts from years ago. They weren’t consistent with my branding preferences for this site. Politics. Weather. Personal stuff.

I just want this blog to be about writing. Specifically: my writing.

But also about the act or strategy of writing.

Last night I finished the penultimate chapter in my new thriller, Wrapt. The killer stakes out all the places our heroine has visited recently, which does two things. 1) It adds creep factor. 2) It leaves clues about which of our three primary suspects is the killer.

Over the next week I will write the final chapter of the first draft. It’s exciting because this has been a different approach for me. I’m enjoying what I am and am not telling the reader. Who knew mystery writing was so much fun?

Thriller

I’m two chapters shy of completing my fifth novel, called Wrapt–a thriller about a serial killer. I worried that it would be too dark, considering that most of my books, though they’re about paranormal subjects, tend to be romances, too. This one is barely a romance. It’s definitely a murder story.

Tonight I’m writing the penultimate chapter, the last one narrated by the killer. It’s meant to tie up all of his loose ends before he goes after our heroine. I’ll write that climax within the next week.

I’m having a lot of fun with the story, determining what the clues are, where to place them, when to misdirect.

Happy Halloween!

Slashers

I typically work on several books at the same time. Always getting ideas. Jotting them down. The more interesting ones get outlines. And then I store them in a sequence of most interesting to least interesting, so that when it’s time to start another book, I have the best ideas at the top. This requires that I re-order the entire collection, now up to about 50 titles.
Fortunately, I have finished four books so far.
But writers often do this thing where they do all the things except the thing they really want to do. Or need to do.
Is that a form of punishment?
I was going to write something about my next novel, a slasher called Wrapt. But this came out instead.

Your Amoral Online Soul

There is a part of the human brain that allows us to watch TV, movies, stage plays,¬†read books, and understand simultaneously that what we are experiencing is not real, but is potentially full of truth, or at least entertainment value. I’m talking about the suspension of disbelief. We know Harrison Ford isn’t really an archaeologist, and he’s not really being chased by a bunch of angry tribesmen, who mysteriously can’t hit a barn with their spears. But we set that aside for two hours and allow ourselves to be entertained. We can watch fictional characters steal, shoot, stab, murder, rape, cheat on their spouses, lie to each other, blow stuff up, and even survive massive explosions. We don’t pass judgment. We just watch. Maybe smile or laugh. Eat another piece of popcorn.

I believe that same part of the brain is what participates in most social media. Our bodies sit at a computer, or tap away on a tablet or phone, but our moral and ethical sub-routines are disengaged.

The consequences of this are that much of what a person does online–whether it is playing games, trolling, gambling, or participating in private conversations in social media–fails to register or be filtered by the moral compass. You chat with someone privately, and you or they might say something completely inappropriate, like asking a married person for a date, or sexting, but it’s just words on a screen because the moral sense is not engaged. You play a first person shooting game, and blow other players away, and nothing about it feels wrong because it is virtual. What a person does online is not perceived as having real life consequences. But it does. Shooting other players in a game hardens people to each other. It puts up barriers. Gambling or playing games that cost money for tokens ruins a family’s finances, even if cash is not involved. And pretend intimate relationships violate the trust that a couple used to expect from each other. When you sext with someone, you invest the time and energy that would be better spent on your partner. But for that moment in the virtual world, there was a part of you that believed or experienced the sexual encounter. You were still unfaithful to your partner.

For many, the social media environment feels safe because they do not invest in the person they are chatting with online. It’s an escape. They don’t have to pay bills with that person, or settle their differences, or figure out what to do about a financial change of plans. It’s easy. But it’s just a cartoon. And because social media environments are so completely addictive, and because so many people get a flutter with any new perceived relationships, a lot of people get trapped by their own short-sightedness. They spend hours online with these cartoon friends, and let their real life relationships suffer. Some people even migrate these online relationships to telephone and Skype, and that’s when it gets even more dangerous. It’s more addictive, feels more real, but it still isn’t. That other person is still hundreds or thousands of miles away, and they are still not invested in you. If you vanish, they move on to someone else to get their online jollies.

Time itself is altered by these social media experiences. You think you’re online for ten minutes, but it was an hour. Or you plan to be chatting in Fitbit or Twitter for an hour, but suddenly it’s three hours past your bedtime. In the end, what have you got out of it? You’ll be tired at work tomorrow, your partner feels neglected, your kids feel abandoned, and you gained nothing. Those people you chatted with for three hours are not going to pay your bills. They are not going to get you soup when you’re sick, and they aren’t helping with the household chores or your kid’s homework. What you did was a waste of precious time.