I’m always so curious about what makes authors tick. My family and friends often wonder about me. How can such an outwardly calm, gentle, happy, laid back individual such as me write an horrific thriller such as Worst Nightmares yet not be hiding a very dark side to his nature - one they’ve never been aware of before?
I know that those who have read my novel now look at me in a new way. Perhaps their opinion of my nature has changed; they now view me as some kind of a Hannibal Lector?
What’s interesting is that usually serial killers look very normal. Almost kind. Ted Bundy for example. Yet what do we really expect in such deviants? Someone with fangs, dripping blood? Killers with strong hands and a demented look in their eyes? No.
So, why does my sister-in-law as well us her mother harbor thoughts that I am morally twisted in some fundamental way? Because I am able think up the most devilish and delicious way of terrifying my characters, and putting them to death in unusual and intriguing ways? (According to their worst nightmares, it goes without saying!)
The fact is, I find conjuring up horrific fantasy images fun! I admit – I enjoy it. Quite often it makes me laugh aloud when I come face to face with my extreme dark humor. And in case you now think I am barking mad, let me assure you that I find actual violence anathema. I’m the first to be shocked when I see people involved in any ‘biffo’ at all.
Before I start reading a new novel I always look for a snapshot of the author. It’s important to me to look into the eyes of the creator and imagine his mindset. More often than not, authors look quite normal. Occasionally they don’t—for instance, there’s something about a hugely celebrated bestselling novelist’s hair that I find just a tad disturbing. Maybe it’s the eyes—like the Mona Lisa’s, they follow you around the room. I’m sure he’s a gentle man, and he certainly writes superlative thrillers, but.... it’s that look....
That’s most probably what my sister-in-law sees in me now. Is it possible that Worst Nightmares, the novel, is a clue to my innate madness?
Which brings me to another point. Why did I choose to write what my wonderful agent referred to as ‘the most cruel and brutal novel’ she had ever read? The answer to that one isn’t so easy. I’ve though about it quite a lot recently. Worst Nightmares is not the catharthic experience of a would-be homicidal maniac. I’m simply attempting to write a gripping thriller that’ll keep readers turning pages way into the night, while reaching for strong liquor.
Readers love being scared. I know I did as a child reading Edgar Allan Poe, Dennis Wheatley, Steven King and Truman Capote. I was transported from castles in Transylvania to fields of horror and bloodshed in Texas; yet the moment I closed the cover I was back in my safe world.
Now I feel like a starving man looking forward to dinner at Cipriani’s! The thought of meeting all my favorite authors at Thrillerfesr, those who’s books I’ve been reading all my life is mind-boggling! And to be debuting my first book in America, with all the hype Vanguard have given it, is massively exciting.
Just yesterday I received an email from a blogger in Boston. “Are you sure your novel Worst Nightmares is not autobiographical?” he asked; somewhat rudely, I thought. “You write of an author who plagiarizes the grizzly diary of a brutally sick serial killer. Did you, in fact, receive such a diary from a real killer? Are there bodies out there?”
I took great pleasure in replying to this man. “Of course! You found me out. There are bodies....lots of them...everywhere. And strange as it may seem, I live only a block from your home. Let’s go find them. What do you say?”
Available May 12, 2009
Francine Mathews--A View From the Shadows
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