Monday, 21 April 2014

Serial Killer Outlook


Although I’m not one to count his chickens before they are hatched, I’m quite happy to say that I have reached the 40,000 word milestone on my serial killer novel – the half way mark is nearby. At this moment, I’m not sure what the approximate final word count will be, but I’m aiming for at least 100,000. I have also spotted a few plot weaknesses and must get round to addressing them in order to beef up the secondary narratives I have weaved in, and flesh out a character or two - that should add to the tally.

I’m liking the shape it’s taking. I am a big fan of the serial killer genre and this has allowed me to identify common threads and mechanisms that tend to be repetitive in the various books I have read. To stick to the genre, I have to naturally obey a set of rules. However, I’m taking a few liberties which I deem necessary to anchor my story into reality and make plot twists believable. Firstly, my main protagonist is a reporter and not a detective. He’s also smart but annoyingly arrogant to start off with; then as the years go by we get used to his flaws (his behaviour changes too). Secondly, the killer remains mysterious and none of the story is narrated or witnessed from his point-of-view. This should make him omnipotent! Finally, the plot – similar to ‘Out of Bounds’ - isn’t strictly linear; it includes flashbacks and dreams.

On another note, I have spent an incredible amount of time researching serial killers. It’s shocking the amount of detail you can get about what they did and continue to do. There are various places I have come across which I consider goldmines for background information. Reading FBI publications on profiling and procedure, and searching for Missing Persons is fascinating. You get to learn so much, including the fact that there are just so many repeat killers in the world that no database will ever be powerful enough to help law enforcement track them down. I’m afraid there are loopholes in the system and killers can thrive on that – well my killer certainly does.

The sun is out and the weather has improved. Seems like we’re in the final lap, heading for summer. I like to think of myself as a hardcore work enthusiast who types frantically no matter what the weather is like outside. But that would be wrong. Like my garden weeds, I enjoy popping my head out and taking in some of that warmth. Let’s just hope this doesn’t dramatically impact my work rate. Right now and if all goes well, I would say that the first draft of the novel could be completed by year-end. Then I’ll follow the path taken for ‘Out of Bounds’. That means: agent queries first, self-publishing if no progress is made. Whatever the outcome, I’ll want to share my story with you. Can you wait until 2015?

In the meantime, if you are also into serial killer books, let me recommend some. Needless to say they inspired me, as well as numerous other books, movies and well-scripted TV shows:

‘The Poet’ by Michael Connelly (arguably the most inspirational book)
‘By Reason of Insanity’ by Shane Stevens (epic story and multiple POV)
‘The Anniversary Man’ by RJ Ellory (complex murders in New York, great storytelling)
‘Messiah’ by Boris Starling (Purely from the London police angle, but great pace)
‘Killer on the Road’ by James Ellroy (epic journey and use of newspaper reports)
‘The Scarecrow’ by Michael Connelly (not as groundbreaking as the Poet, but a good follow-up)
And in general the works of Henning Mankell, RJ Ellory, Dennis Lehane…