Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I’m taking part in the Nemesister by Sophie Jonas-Hill Blog tour! A different genre for me and perhaps a surprise for you all to see such a book on my blog! When one of our own Abby from Anne Bonny Book Reviews put out a request for help from bloggers for a tour she was asked to organise, being the well-mannered and polite gentleman blogger that I am, I, of course, offered my services to Abigail!
So, today I bring to you all a guest post from the author herself!!!
Why serial killers are rubbish.
My book does not contain serial killers. It does contain a devious and diabolical plot, creepy, skin-crawling atmosphere and a chilling examination of the notion of identity – but not serial killers. There are too man of them in fiction, and I didn’t want to add to them, and here’s why – they’re always wrong. Not wrong in a moral sense, I like to think that’s a given, but they’re wrong in that most fiction gets them wrong.
Real life violence in is both nasty and dull, so as writers are engaged in entertainment, we have to find ways to stop the endless repetition of fist on flesh from becoming tedious, and so invest time and energy in decorating the process with adjective and verbs, which later on film-makers can illustrate with slow-mo and crashing background music, all to make the wretched process engaging. Worse than that, when it comes to the serial killer, in an attempt to explain why such people do such terrible things, and because fiction demands that all characters have complex, puzzle box motives, they spend hours and hours constructing elaborate backstories filled with moments of horror and delicately selected abuse, so that the serial killer has a reason to do what they do. And, doing what they do is not enough, they must have a master plan, an over-riding artwork written in human pain and misery, an end goal to elevates what they do into more than just tedious violence. It’s the final taboo perhaps to admit that may not be too dissimilar to ‘us’ after all, and so their motives are pretty dull, pretty tedious also.
Think of Hannibal Lecter, reaching his nadir in the interpretation given him in the series ‘Hannibal,’ where Mads Mikkelsen serves human delights delicate enough to prompt my best friend to declare that she’d happily eat them all because they looked so damn beautiful, whoever they were made of. Or ‘Seven’, where the intricately realised deaths based on the seven sins each lead one to the other with a series of devious clues, all the way to the ultimate un-revengable revenge on the man charged to catch the killer; Indeed, any number of books and films where the hero (usually a him even now) has to battle again the mental agility of his unseen adversary, while reflecting upon his own demons and staring wistfully off camera in contemplation over each new corpse. It’s a familiar picture, but it’s not reality.
Most serial killers are below average intelligence, don’t have devious plans which guide them to hand pick their victims to spell out the words of a biblical prophecy, or create their own private orchestra of impossibly beautiful musicians. They kill people they can get away with killing. They usually do it in a messy, haphazard way, with no great attempt made to cover up the crime, unless they happen to be the owners of their own pig processing plant. The real, actually horror is not what they do, but how easy it is for them to get away with it, precisely because of who they kill.
It is estimated that Denise Nielson, active during the 1970’s and preying on young, homeless boys, killed far more than the official twelve listed, but those that he killed had slipped so far between the cracks that what remained of them were never claimed nor matched to missing people, because they’d never been listed as missing. To be missed, someone must care that you’re missed, or at least notice it. For me, that’s more chilling than any amount of hidden clues and poetical references, and perhaps that’s why we prefer the fiction, because it lets us off the hook. From the police during the Yorkshire Ripper case warning that his next victim might be ‘a good girl,’ and so they really ought to get on and find him, to the killings of Stephan Port a few years ago, who’s crimes were not linked despite stunningly obviously similarities, because police were too ready to convince themselves that they’d all committed suicide as they were gay, the greatest horror is that there are people in our society who are too easily dismissed, to easily made vulnerable, too easily blamed for being somehow complicit in their own deaths.
Is this partially because we like the idea of the super intelligent, super attractive serial killer so much, that when ordinary people go missing, we find it hard to let this image go and look for the real perpetrator – a sad, lonely predator without design, without complexity? Evil is the ultimate banality, tired, dull and repetitive, and wanting it to be like the movies, is another way it has power over us.
So when I write crime fiction, you can rest assured that the person who did it, isn’t a serial killer. I hope they’re much, much more interesting than that.
An American Gothic thriller of deception and obsession, slicked in sweat and set in the swamps of Louisiana.
It’s a psychological mystery where the female protagonist stumbles into a deserted shack with no memory but a gun in her hand. There she meets an apparent stranger, Red, and the two find themselves isolated and under attack from unseen assailants.
Barricaded inside for a sweltering night, cabin fever sets in and brings her flashes of insight which might be memory or vision as the swamp sighs and moans around her.
Exploring in the dark she finds hidden keys that seem to reveal her identity and that of her mysterious host, but which are the more dangerous – the lies he’s told her, or the ones she’s told herself?
About Sophie Jonas-Hill:
I’ve always written and told stories, for as long as I can remember. My first self published work at the age of seven, fully illustrated in felt pen and crayon. I continued with a series of insightful ‘When I grow up I want to be an author’, essays, and an attempt at a ‘Bonk-buster’ series of supernatural thrillers written from a position of utter ignorance on all topics, until I was distracted by Art college. A never ending, or never finished, fantasy epic kept me going through my twenties, but it was motherhood in my thirties which concentrated my mind enough to actually finish a novel. It’s amazing what a bit of life experience and the sudden curtailing of your free time can do to concentrate the mind.
After that I began giving myself permission to take my writing seriously enough to spend time on it and actually listen to critiques. The writing festival in York proved invaluable, and time and disappointment got me to the point of producing something readable, which I was lucky enough to have read by Urbane publications.
If you make or write anything, the number one question you get asked is ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ In answer to that question, it’s an easy process which combines working on your craft every hour you can for as long as possible – hard graft – reading as much as you can of everyone else’s work – stealing – and inspiration, which is just one of those things that just happens. The inspiration for ‘Nemesister’ comes from a dark episode of family history, and a moment from a dream; an image of a man standing in the doorway of what I knew was an abandoned shack, which was gone as soon as it came and yet lingered, the way some dreams do.
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