Conception

Posted: August 10, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Back in November/December of last year, I had an idea for a story. I wanted to write about a serial killer who chose his victims from a call center he worked at. Now, this may be something I’ll revisit, but as I was writing it, a lot of problems came up, not the least of which was how much technology would most likely prevent him from a killing spree long enough for what I wanted. Rather discouraged, I put the idea on the back shelf. One of those bread shelves I have where ideas need to rise a bit before being usable.

Sometime in January, I wondered, well what about serial killers who were brothers? I’d never heard of any and wondered if such a thing ever happened. Off to google I went, and found out that while it’s not common among serial killers, there were in fact brothers who killed together. In fact, the earliest known serial killers in the U.S. were brothers, in the late 1790’s. With that bit of encouragement, I did more research and promptly threw my hands up once more. My idea was to fictionalize the brothers (who were actually cousins but passed themselves off as brothers), and create a nice little horror novel.

The problem was, they left a trail from North Carolina to Kentucky and many spots in between. Places I knew nothing about. The more I researched, the more frustrated I became. Again I was about to let the idea rise, yet it refused to be put away.

The story demanded my attention. It haunted my every waking moment, seeped into my dreams. The goddamned thing was stalking me! Back to the drawing board I went. “Write what you know.” I remember being told. I knew Arizona, having lived here since 1981. Things started to click at that point. I moved the setting by 100 years into the ending years of what we think of as the old west, moved it to AZ just after Phoenix was founded, and kept the method of killing the brothers employed while adding my own twist.

By June I had written almost 80K words. It was done, and I felt a sense of relief, like a fever finally breaking, or a boil bursting. I began to edit, and do some rewrites, when the unthinkable happened. I say unthinkable because no one in their right mind would do what I was about to do.

I went to transfer some files from one folder to another, and hit the recycle bin instead. The recycle bin that had no cache, so everything was instantly deleted. Now I have a laptop and love it very much, but the hard drive is on the small side, and every bit of space is needed. Hence the auto delete. I let out a string of expletives that would make a sailor blush and wash my mouth out with soap. Hopping online, I posted my blunder, not too arrogant to share my mistake, in hopes of retrieving said files. Someone over on one of the messageboards suggested a file retrieval program. I downloaded it, palms sweaty, stomach aching, and hoped for the best.

What I was able to retrieve was about 30K words short of what I’d had. not only that, some pages were missing intermittently from what I could save. Still, it was better than nothing and I resumed work. I began with chapter one, editing, and recreating missing pieces, like a crossword puzzle. What became clear was that it was more a patchwork quilt made by a blind grandmother than the expensive comforter I was shooting for. and with great regret, I made the decision about two weeks ago to begin again, using what I had as a guide, rather than piece it together.

Gone was the original first chapter, replaced by the most brutal piece of writing I’ve put down on paper. Sayonara to the subplot of a cook who sees “things” and hears “voices”. Old Bill is still around, but he’s gone from a small part to a walk on role. He didn’t like that one bit, and fought me tooth and nail as I wrote the second chapter. Yet, I finally prevailed.

Which brings us up to date. I have a rough outline for chapters three and four and will now get those done this week, and as always will keep you updated.

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