Published by Limitless Publishing LLC on August 8, 2017
Genres: comedy, Crime/Serial Killer, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Psychological Horror, Suspense, Thriller
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Murder can be risky…and not just for the douchebags on the business end of Emma’s power saw.
Men only let Emma down. They cheat, and they lie. They send unsolicited pictures of their genitals. Ready to give up hope, Emma decides to go on one last date. Then it finally happens—she finds the thing she loves most of all.
Killing clueless jerks she finds on the internet.
Lost in a happy haze of hunting her victims, devising increasingly-clever killings, and streamlining her dismemberment process, Emma gets careless.
As her need for her murderous outlet grows, she runs an increasing risk of getting caught…or worse—falling for one of her victims.
The Line Between
How much space exists between an author and their work? Where do we draw the line between fiction and the influence of the real world?
I remember sitting in literature classes in college, listening to the professors’ postulate and profess and drill into us all the ways the author’s history shaped and appeared in the works. How a cigar is never a cigar in literature. Yet then I would wander down to my creative writing classes and scribble down random echoes of my dreams or the farthest reach of my imagination. Between the two, I had trouble analyzing bloody hands as more than simply a side effect of murder.
So, as a college student with just the beginnings of life experience to draw from, I firmly argued that fiction was fiction while real life was real life. Then another decade and a half carved new and divergent paths through my synapses. Now, I sit here trying to have this conversation with a small stack of my own books as evidence.
With myself as the analytical topic, I can only say that there is no line at all between fiction and real life. There might be a filter as effective as cheesecloth on the best of days. For the majority of my works (there is one glaring exception), my real-life weaves in and through the narrative and infects the characters.
The most glaring example of my life (and the lives of those around me) on the page is my most recent novel, The Rest Will Come. The Rest Will Come tells the story of Emma, a recently divorced woman fumbling her way through online dating out of desperation. When a seemingly endless parade of disappointments sends her over the edge, she sends her keys through one date’s eye. In that blood-drenched second, she realizes that murder might be her one true love.
Prior to the murder, is based very directly on a life I witnessed. Then I enhanced the premise with additional dating horror stories that everyone around me seemed to have in abundance. I even make an appearance as a character in the book (though not our leading Emma).
However, I am not here for just another “what inspired my book” post. I have answered that question constantly since publication. I practically have a script. Instead, I want to provide a picture of what it looked like to dance all over that thin line between real life and the fiction I was weaving.
Imagine, if you will, the house falling quiet finally after the children have gone to bed. Stories have been read. Final drinks have been provided. Babies have been rocked and, sometimes, rocked again. As a tired mother (me) settles onto the couch between her husband and their roommate, she pulls her laptop on her knees to carve out two hours of writing time before sleep resets the day to kids and work again.
As her fingers click over the soft keys, the large flat screen in front of them flashes. Most likely a horror movie or something like The Walking Dead. She listens to the plot from the TV as she unravels her own on the computer. Pausing, she crosses her arms and places a finger to her chin, turning to her housemates.
“Does a Sawz-All cut through bone?” she interrupts suddenly.
“Um, what?” her husband asks, slightly surprised, as their roommate turns to heed the conversation.
“Would a Sawz-All cut through bone? Like if I needed to cut up a body?”
“Yeah, it would,” he replies. “You would need a new blade though.”
Without a word, she turns back to the screen again and beats on the keys. Then she freezes again.
How many pieces would a girl need to cut a body into to carry it up a mountain?”
How much blood is in a human body? How would you dispose of the blood? How much lighter would the body be without blood? How could she keep the pieces from leaking through the bags? How hard would it be to cut through a spine?
This is what my living room sounded like every night for months as I worked on The Rest Will Come. These are the queries that have turned my internet search history completely damning. I am potentially already on some sort of keyword watchlist.
Not only does this novel obliterate that thin line between real influence and story, it became a collaboration of real life experiences. More than just the tales of dating woe that spawned each victim, our little nightly trio debated murder weapon and method, argued disposal tactics, lobbied for more mischief and mayhem.
Those nights on the couch, whilst epically multitasking, made the book. I was able to expand the world from just my imagination (from just how Emma looked to Ronnie) to include the other perspectives. My husband’s EMT training background and our roommate’s college criminology classes were boundlessly helpful in reducing the trespasses on my internet browser.
The question then becomes, does such pervasive real-life influence, enhance or degrade the fiction? If my work has been successful (aside from the aforementioned aberration), it is definitely thanks largely to the way my real life has infiltrated the dream. I could not imagine some better murder victims than I was able to pull from the stories of friends and splice into the pages. I could not have written all the nuances without the awkward and hilarious debates on the couch.
But you be the judge. Take the trip and see if you can find that thin line between the author’s reality and fantasy.