Serial killer Sophia snatches “dirty” runaways, drug users and society’s misfits off the street and gets them clean—by turning their remains into soap. But she’s bored with her overbearing partner and it’s time to replace him with someone sexier, edgier…maybe a soul mate, a true partner-in-crime.
Are serial killers really just cleaning up some of the messes in society? Today I chat with Clare de Lune, the author behind the horror novel that is ‘What Lies Within’ where we peer through the soap bubbles to take a cleaner look at the work of the serial killer Sophia. Clare, firstly thank you for sharing a little of your time with myself and the readers of ItsWriteNow.com so that we can ponder soap making serial killers. Secondly, where did the idea behind Sophia’s story start?
I was working at a college library and I had a nice view of a courtyard. I witnessed a couple fighting, and the way she looked at him as he stormed off…for some reason, it gave me chills. The book originally started off as a vampire novel, but I changed it to serial killers after reading about Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo.
Was it only serial killers you scrutinised during the development, or did you end up pursing tons of research leads?
Tons! I read about serial killers until I became physically ill — to the point of throwing up. That part was not fun, but the rest of the research was.
It sounds like research took up a large part of time on during the development of this book. Did you also use elements from your own life to compliment your research discoveries?
I drew on a lot of my own insecurities in a lot of ways, but for me, characters just start talking to me and want to tell me a story. They don’t shut up until I’m done with the story. They’re like ghosts.
So they just fade into your in your mind like ghosts?
They just randomly appear. They’re like ghosts. They start talking and I basically write down what they say. I dream about them. Sometimes I go on these astral-travel type meditations, and I see them re-enacting the scenes they want me to write. I guess that sounds crazy, but all writers are crazy in some way. Right?
I think that the best people in life, writer or not, have a nice dash of crazy that they enjoy dancing with. And if you’re able to get your characters taking you through the journey of the novel through astral-travel type meditations I say why not! Would you ever want to hang out with your characters in a more social setting than the mediations? Perhaps at a cast party?
NO! But if I could hang out with Tamara, I totally would. She’s my absolute favorite.
I can understand your reluctance for not wanted to get into the fold with some of your shall we say, less stable characters, but I think that a coffee with Tamara should be safe enough. Overall, what was the main idea that you want your readers to take from this novel?
That we live in a sick, twisted world and there’s no way to change things. You have to look inward to find happiness and to deal with life’s shortcomings and disappointments.
Did you find look inward and find happiness during this process of realizing this book? What gave you the most happiness?
Finishing it. It was a long process. This was my first full-length book, so it was nice to get it all out there.
Congratulations on completing your first full-length book! Now the question is have you been bitten by the writing bug? Have you picked up your pen again on another project?
Right now I’m editing a draft of a crow shapeshifter book. The main character is a depressed artist named Sylvia, and she can never seem to successfully kill herself. When she meets a murder of crow shapeshifters, she finds out why–and finds out why they want her help: she can speak to the Grim Reaper and help them handle their dirty laundry.
Well, why not exploit that direct connection to the Grim Reaper if you’ve got it! What pushes you to write down these exploits?
The voices in my head tell me to.
You gotta love voices that give you nice constructive projects like writing books. How does the writing process work for you once the voices have given you an idea to play with? Do you know where you’re going when you start typing?
Sometimes I know how it’ll end, and sometimes I don’t know until I write it. I’m not one of those outliner types–I’m scattered and all over the place. Mostly I just sit down and churn the story out in a linear fashion.
Do you have any techniques that help you get the churn going?
I write every day for the most part, and I try to get over the 500-word marker. If I make it to over 1,000, I reward myself with chocolate or wine.
Bribery, the often-understated method of book writing motivation. Do you find that music also helps your motivation and keeps you on task when you write?
I love all music, but I love Chelsea Wolf because she invokes that eerie vibe. There are plenty of others, too, and it depends on the mood or the scene I’m trying to set. There are tons of talented local musicians here in New Orleans, too, so I usually put them on when I’m writing about the scenery here.
Do you ever find that the bribery and music techniques can’t combat writer’s block? And if so, what techniques do you use to get yourself back into the writing game?
I go for a walk or paint. I write long hand in a journal, too, so that usually helps.
When the walks are done and all of the words are lined up nicely in your book, how do you approach the task of editing? Do you edit your own work, or find others to assist?
I do, somewhat, but I always make sure to have at least three people look at it before it goes to a professional editor. I’m lucky. My partner reads my books and his feedback is always valuable.
Other than getting themselves an awesome partner to provide feedback, do you have any writing or self-publishing tips for other authors?
Write as much as possible and don’t hold back. Get a print copy of your book before you publish and sit down and read it like you’re one of your readers. Look for typos, weird formatting, all of that stuff. It’s amazing what your eyes miss when you’re reading on screen.
Having that physical copy of your book and seeing how the printing process actually went as opposed to how you thought it would turn out is critical and something that I don’t feel that enough authors embrace. Clare, I’d like to turn the tables a little now an embrace the quick fire questions round. To kick us off let’s start with a nice simple one: are you a valuable asset on a quiz team?
I’m a librarian, so I’d like to think so.
Do you feel that being a librarian has helped or influenced your writing?
I enjoy it, but I do go through some days where I whine and cry about not being Stephen King. I’m lucky in that I have a professional position that is writer-friendly. Plus, who can really complain about being around all those books?
You can never complain about living in the land of books! What is your zodiac sign?
What is your favourite ocean?
If you invented a monster what would it look like and what would you call it?
Probably a Godzilla-sized drag queen with laser eyes, dragon claws and Jagermeister breath. Maybe Fabzilla?
*Laughs* Fabzilla! I think that’s the most awesome name and quite frankly who wouldn’t want to see a Godzilla-sized drag queen! All of the drag queens I’ve met were wonderful people, so I’d be happy to meet a Godzilla-sized one. Are you introvert or extrovert?
Introvert for sure.
Have you ever danced in the rain?
Yes, haven’t you ever been to Mardi Gras?
I’ve not had the pleasure yet, but it is on my bucket list. If you ruled your own country, who would you get to write the national anthem?
Are you left or right handed?
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
Embrace your eccentricities.
Eccentricities are under embraced, but they really are what make humans interesting. If they made a movie from your book who would you choose to play the main characters?
I don’t know, but I would die if David Lynch did something with it.
I think that your stories might be right up his alley. You never know, you might be lucky enough! How are the colours in rainbows made?
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
A cheetah and a rhino. Stay out of its way.
Fast and furious. Awesome combination. What color socks are you wearing?
What is your favourite flavor of ice-cream?
What is your favourite quote?
“I never try anything. I just do it.” — Varla, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Ahh, the wisdom of go-go dancers. What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
I can’t write it here without people scoffing at my immaturity.
Alright, so I’ll protect you from your immaturity. Does your immaturity also extend to words? What is your favourite word?
And finally, to ensure that the readers aren’t bamboozled about the contents of ‘What Lies Within’ can you tempt us with your favourite line?
“This was his life: driving drunk at 2 a.m. with a hand and a pair of eyes in a Styrofoam cup.”
Well, what else are you going to put in your Styrofoam cup at 2 in the morning? Clare, thank you for sharing the winding tales behind ‘What Lies Within’ and I wish you the best of luck with your promotion.
Want to find out more about Clare de Lune? Connect here!