No, I didn't dare someone to act. A dear friend of mine dared me to act. Her challenge: bet you can't write a dark, psychological suspense story. That sounded logical enough, since I have been writing the Mad Max mystery series for a while now. Mad Max is anything but dark, although dark things happen to and around her. Still, me? Write a dark, psychological suspense? Especially when I was playing around with a romance that wasn't going anywhere fast.
I declined the dare. Until she made it a double-dog dare. Well, I'd show her.
I paced the house with my head flooded with ideas. What could I do that was dark? I understood digging into the psyche. After all, Max tells her stories and, to be truthful, she has to go into the dark places in her soul sometimes. No, a Max-like character wouldn't satisfy the dare. I thought about assassins. Nah. I hate kill shots from long distance. No pink mist for me. I thought about delving into the life of a drug dealer. Not interesting enough. Been done too many times.
When I thought about a serial killer, I had the same reaction as I did about drug dealers. Been done too many times. But what if I could find a twist, a different way of presenting a warped human being, a psychopath with a unique moral code, a personal rule book, if you will. But what would that uniqueness be?
I puzzled on this for weeks until I had an epiphany of sorts. First person singular from the point of view of the killer. Other than some television shows where the killer is the focus (think Dexter, which I have never seen), I hadn't read any books with the killer telling the story. Probably hundreds out there, but I hadn't read them. Think looking at the world through the lens of a hunter. Think moving in for a kill with calmness and total concentration.
Think: A woman! A female serial killer is as rare as a, well, female serial killer.
Would she be an Avenging Angel? A Vigilante? A Black Widow? Or would she be herself.
Once I knew I wanted to see if I could write from the point of view of a broken psyche, I was off to the races. Words fairly flew onto the page. I found so many different ways to kill people merely by reading my local newspaper. I tested different methods, just as my killer did. I gave her the ability to laugh at the world, especially the world of law enforcement. I gave her a chameleon's talent for blending into the crowd, for hiding in plain sight. I balanced the dark with light, so that the book wouldn't be a tutorial on killing. I gave her a few redeeming social characteristics. I gave her a cat.
And now that the unnamed, totally unreliable narrator is about to see print, I'm ready to kick the b*tch out of my head. Maybe I'll return to the romance. Maybe I'll go to something sunny. I know what when Eyes Without A Face debuts, I'm not going to write her sequel.
Have you ever taken a dare like this one?