How did I come to write Reciprocal Evil?

I am about to release my longest work to date:  RECIPROCAL EVIL

The story, in a nutshell, is told in the blurb: 

There’s a serial killer on the loose. And he might be working for the Devil…

Student Chris Jones is obsessed with finding meaning in his life. Researching the historical existence of evil, he falls down the rabbit hole, becoming deeply affected by the darkness in our world. He forgets about classwork and, most of all, his relationship with his girlfriend Rachel suffers. After a gruesome murder on campus, things get even worse.

Because the night before, Chris dreamed about it.

He dreamed about the rape, the knife wounds, the agonizing cries.  He experienced it vividly — from the killer’s perspective.  Why is he experiencing this? Is it related to his research? The terror on campus ramps up as Rachel’s roommate goes missing… just as Chris comes face to face with a killer. The killer who died years ago.

What is the entity’s game? How does it involve Chris? And even more frightening: What does this evil being want with Rachel? Chris’s life isn’t the only thing he has to put on the line. He could risk the love of his life. He could risk his very soul…

I sometimes wonder about people writing horror.  There’s some twisted stuff out there.  Extreme horror graphically describes tortures and mutilations and disgusting acts in an effort to shock the reader.  When it succeeds, it can be good.  I’ve read a bit of it and thought maybe I could write it, but in the end, I just can’t.  I pull my punches too much, I guess.  I can’t describe the unspeakable acts that some of them do.  

But I don’t assume that the writers of such horror are “turned on” or whatever by the sadistic and grotesque acts they write about.  They just tell stories for readers who like that sort of thing. 

So how did I write this story?  How did I write THE INN and THE CAVE?  The latter of those two was about a group of eighth graders who discover a cave and find out that it’s something – more – than a cave.  THE INN was about a group of high school kids going on a band trip and staying in a creepy motel where bad things happen.   THE CAVE was inspired by Richard Laymon’s novel THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW, and the THE INN was inspired by William Malmborg’s TEXT MESSAGE.  There is a threat, and it involves the kids.  I hope they’re scary, but I also hope that my readers connect with my characters.  I made them as real as I could.  

RECIPROCAL EVIL was inspired by an Edward Lee novel I read a number of years ago called CITY INFERNAL.  In it Hell is a real place, called Mephistopolis or something like that, and is powered by suffering.  I took that idea sort of literally in this story, too.  But I made my antagonist one of the providers of that power for Hell.  And I made my protagonist a college student who is studying the nature of evil, and is pursuing this study outside of his normal chemistry and physics classes.  It is affecting him; how could immersing one’s self in discussions of the nature of evil not affect someone?  But it’s also affecting those around him.  It’s drawing something evil toward him, perhaps, and therefore it is drawing the evil into the proximity of his closest friends.  

The book starts in a Chemistry lecture that is modeled on my own freshman year chem lecture (except that Chris, my main character is a junior – so it’s not THAT class).  The rest of the story takes place in locations that are inspired by real locations at my own college.  That’s ancient history, but the library was spooky enough to be used as a location in the original version of FLATLINERS.  And some of the dorms and classroom buildings intrigued me (in a spooky way) when I was there.  They don’t necessarily figure in the story, but the ambience they lent to the campus is definitely part of what I tried to incorporate. 

I didn’t outline the story; I just sort of started writing about Chris Jones, and it sort of just came to me as I wrote.  I knew it was going to feature a serial killer, but at first I didn’t know how it would relate to Chris, and I just sort of went with the flow.  The end result is the story you can read very soon.  I hope you choose to download it, and I hope you enjoy it!  Thanks!

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