I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers. I would explain why, but seriously: isn’t everyone fascinated by serial killers? In a world where zombies are funny and werewolves are sexy and vampires play baseball, serial killers are the only boogey men we have left—plus they’re real, which is a nice bonus. Real is scary. Real is also, ironically, incredibly mysterious: everyone knows how a person becomes a vampire, but nobody really knows how an otherwise normal person becomes a psychopathic killer. And not knowing things is…scary.
Thinking about serial killers (as I often do), and specifically about their psychological development, I started creating the character of John Cleaver: a teenage sociopath, fascinated with death and obsessed with serial killers as a sort of pop culture mythology. He knows their names, their methods, and their stories down to the grittiest detail—he knows them so well, in fact, that he recognizes all of the warning signs in himself: he could become a killer at any moment, and he would be good at it. And that would have been an interesting story, but it’s not really what I wanted to write. In that story, John is the villain or, at best, the ‘protagonist.’ I wanted to go for broke and make him the hero, fighting bad guys and saving people and being as sympathetic as possible. I wanted to take this dangerous, screwed-up, terrifying character and make you love him. I Am Not a Serial Killer is the result.
The basic premise of the book is common enough: a brave young man discovers a sinister underbelly to the world he thought he knew, full of danger and secrets and things unexplainable, and finds himself caught up in a quest to save his hometown from an evil menace. We’ve all read that story. But what if the menace is a demonic serial killer, collecting body parts for a dark and mysterious purpose? And what if the hero is a budding psychopath, treading the thin line between self control and bloodthirsty chaos?
And what if, as these two characters hunt each other through the shadows of a small, terrified town, you found yourself rooting for both of them?
From the Tor/Forge March newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.