While banging my head on the wall trying to figure out why I haven’t been able to bring a single project to an end for more than 3 years now, I realized that I had a hard time accepting myself for who I am. I’m not talking about sexual, religious, political or any other orientation, I’m talking about being driven to write about murderers and psychopaths.
Funny thing is that I didn’t have this problem while I was writing my first novel, Bloody Green. The trouble came afterward.
Namely, that novel is filled with details of some really nasty murders described in details and the most common question that I’ve got from readers was:
How did you come up with these ideas for murders!?
And, that’s the exact moment when I freeze; an awkward moment of silence.
I could see where that was going. What kind of sick mind can imagine such horrible things?
Looking at other human beings and admitting that you’re fascinated by individuals who are capable of violently ending other people’s lives is an awkward situation.
But, I am, and I have always been, attracted to examine what comes into people’s minds before and after they commit a murder. Not that I have an interest in committing one, I was simply curious.
Ever since I was a kid, back then when we still had newspapers on an actual paper, I would always find the pages of murder reports and I would read the headings like
- A man killed his father with an ax.
- A decapitated woman found in her bed. Her Husband is missing.
- A woman threw her baby in a dumpster and jumped from the window.
- A man Kills his neighbor with a chainsaw…
You get the picture.
From day to day I would read these articles and spend days trying to figure out what has gone through the heads of these people while they were committing these horrible acts.
When you spend a good portion of your day thinking about these things, eventually you come to some conclusions and speculations and you get the desire to write things down. That’s exactly what I do. I’m trying to figure out what gets into people and makes them take somebody’s life.
However, that is not something you can say publicly and feel proud about it; at least not me. I’ve been in various awkward situations where I was blushing while others were talking about me or asking me questions which I couldn’t answer.
For example, on several occasions, I had dinners with my wife’s relatives. Since I’m not the one who starts a conversation about my writing, it would always be someone else talking about me in a third person.
“Oh, you know, Ivan writes books?”
“Really!? What kind of books!” This question would be addressed directly to me and my answer is:
“Well, you know… Fiction,” it always feels important to stress out that I write fiction.
Then, they read the book and the feedback is always the same.
“I’ve read the book. It’s very good. I’ve finished it in two days. I couldn’t put it down. But, where does all the violence come from? You are so nice and peaceful. I would never tell that you’re capable of writing in a such violent manner.”
Usually, I don’t know how to explain and it never feels comfortable. All of a sudden I start to feel like someone who is capable of performing a mass shooting; you know that guy who’s been described by his neighbors like “a peaceful and nice guy who was never suspected of being able to do such a horrible thing”.
Ever since I came to China I’ve met a lot of people and the story repeats; there are just different characters involved. Instead of my wife’s relatives, we have new acquaintances who suddenly, after reading my book, stop to feel comfortable around me and the feeling is mutual.
The other odd thing about writing murder mysteries and thrillers is giving away your book.
“Here, I would like you to have this book because I deeply care about you. It’s filled with murders, rapes, and massacres. I have a feeling that it’s just the thing you need. Have a nice day. Enjoy.” Not exactly. It more likely feels like: “See you in hell!”
Or, imagine signing that book.
From Ivan, with love,
There are only 12+ casualties in this book. I haven’t bothered to count them, but there is definitely more than a dozen. Don’t show this book to your kids.
I remember Stephen King saying at one of his conferences:
“I know why are you here; to see how f***ed up I really am,”
(actually paraphrased; maybe exact thing he said; I can’t remember).
And, I could actually feel what he was saying.
Therefore, for the past couple of years, I was trying to write a book without a single murder and you see the result; there is no book and there won’t be a book without a murder; that’s something I’m sure of now.
No matter how much I tried to write romance, YA, becoming of age, whatever, it always ends up with at least one murder and there is nothing I can do about it but accept it.
I guess I will just have to accept that I’m a weirdo who enjoys getting into the heads of psychopathic murderers and I will have to figure out a way to speak about that in public.