Many writers counsel that you should write what you know. That won't work, because I have no firsthand knowledge about how to kill someone. Nor do I want to have it. David Baldacci counsels to write what you want to know. I like him. Good advice. I followed it.
Why the heck did I decide to write about a sociopathic serial killer?
First, I had to craft a character who didn't fit the female serial killer stereotypes. She's not a black widow, killing her spouses for their money. She's not an angel of death, putting sufferers out of their misery. She doesn't fit any male stereotypes either. She's charming in her own way but not the way Ted Bundy was charming. She doesn't want to eat her victims. She thinks some people should not live. Period.
Okay, I have the character. I know what she looks like, where she grew up, what her profession other than killing is. I know where she lives, where she went to school, how smart she is. I now had to decide how she would kill.
I'm so tired of long-distance snipers who get off on pink mist. My character doesn't even own a gun. She's much more up front and personal. How about poisons? Exotic or common? I settled on common, things that you'd have in your house. How about sharp pointy weapons? Hmm, ice picks and K-Bar knives came to mind.
I started doing research on how poisons work in the body. Do you have any idea how much information there is out on the Internet about poisons. (NSA, you already know where to find me. Drop on by if you're in the neighborhood. I'll leave the laptop on.)
I developed a cadre of experts to advise me on how much rat poison can be mixed with cocaine without the user being any the wiser. I wanted to know how long snorting such a combination would take to make the user really sick or dead.
Is it scary to be in the head of a serial killer? Yes and no. It's not too bad because I know I can leave anytime I want. I think. Maybe I checked into Hotel California. The jury is still out.