Interview with Chris Carter
SB: Hello and welcome! Right, lets get down to business. Please supply a brief summary of your book, The Crucifix Killer.
I will use the blurb that was created for the book as I think it summarizes the novel well.
In a derelict cottage in Los Angeles National Forest, a young woman is found savagely murdered. Naked, strung from two wooden posts, the skin has been ripped from her face – while she was alive. On the nape of her neck is carved a strange double-cross: the signature of a psychopath known as the Crucifix Killer. But that’s not possible. Because, two years ago, the Crucifix Killer was caught and executed. Could this be the work of a copycat killer? Someone who has somehow accessed intricate details of the earlier murders – details that were never made public? Or is Homicide Detective Robert Hunter forced to face the unthinkable? Is the real Crucifix Killer still out there, ready to embark once again on a vicious killing spree, selecting his victims seemingly at random, taunting Hunter with his inability to catch him? Robert Hunter and his rookie partner are about to enter a nightmare beyond imagining, where there’s no such thing as a quick death.
SB: Why did you decide to become a novelist?
The truth is; I never planned to write a book. I never thought of a career in writing until a couple of years ago when out of the blue I had an idea for a book (which wasn’t The Crucifix Killer) and decided to write it. That’s how everything started.
SB: What inspired such a gruesome and dark plot?
When I was young, still living in Brazil, the girlfriend of a friend of mine was kidnapped. When the police finally caught up with the kidnappers and rescued her, she had a large cut on her forearm – like a carving. My imagination went wild then thinking that there could be a gang of kidnappers out there who carved their own symbol on their victims’ flesh. I guess the idea for The Crucifix Killer came from that.
SB: I know you studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour, which must have been a huge help when writing The Crucifix Killer, as it shows spectacularly in your work. Plus, your character, Robert Hunter, is a Criminal Behavior Psychologist turned Detective. Just how much research (criminal or otherwise) did you put into your book? Do you have any favourite research sites on the web?
To be honest, most of the research I did for the book was about the city Los Angeles – locations, maps, clubs, where to hang out, the coroners, police headquarters, etc. I haven’t been there for many years and I know LA keeps on changing; there are always new, trendy places to go.
There was basically no research put into the psychology part of the book. That’s all from what I studied and worked with. Trust me; what I studied and worked with is not easy to forget.
I have called the Los Angeles Department of Coroners and the Los Angeles Robbery Homicide Division a few times when I had question I couldn’t find the answers on the net.
I don’t really have a favorite research site. I research everywhere – really.
SB: What came first, your desire to learn about criminal psychology, or your desire to write about it in a fictional book?
Certainly the desire to study criminal psychology. As I said, I never intended on being a writer.
SB: Oh, yes – you did, didn’t you!
Okay. What did you do, and how did you feel when you heard your book was accepted for publication by Simon & Schuster?
I jumped around like a silly kid. It all felt quite unreal. I really wanted to go out and celebrate, but I had no money – literally. I couldn’t even afford a pint when I got the news.
SB: You held the #1 spot in the Hugendubel paperback list for quite some time when your book was released in Germany. What sort of reaction are you getting from your UK readers?
I’m amazed at the number of emails I’ve received from readers since The Crucifix Killer’s release on the 6th August. The response has really been incredible and I’m ecstatic that so many people have enjoyed the book and taken the time to send me a message. Thank you to everyone for the incredible support.
SB: Who are your literary influences?
I don’t think I can say I’m hugely influenced by anyone, really. I read everything and everyone. To mention a few books I have really enjoyed – Child 44 (Tom Rob Smith), The Avenger and the Afghan (Frederick Forsyth), The Stretch (Stephen Leather), The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho), The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follet).
SB: Thank you! You’ve just given me a whole new set of books to check out and possibly go on my “Friday Finds” post. Child 44 really appeals to me. And I can see why you like Paulo Coelho – he’s Brazilian!
What are your views on ebooks?
Personally, I love the feeling of holding a book. I have a strange connection with book covers – I love looking at them. It might catch on in the years to come, but I’ll always prefer to have a physical book in my hands. Maybe I’m old-fashioned.
SB: In line with my ‘What’s on Your Desk Wednesday?” Bookish meme on my blog, what *is* on your desk?
I live in a very small apartment and my writing space is the corner of my very small living room. My desk is the size of a coffee table, it doesn’t hold much. Of course you can have a photo. I’m sorry to disappoint, but on my desk there’s only my laptop, a few pencils and pens and my Dictaphone.
SB: But, I beg to differ. This is where you slaved over your book, for days upon end striving towards one goal… What one piece of advice could you give new writers who are struggling to write their first novel?
I guess the only think I can say is “Don’t give up”.
SB: Please can you suggest three story ‘prompts’.
1) Her eyes searched the dimly lit tiled room. She couldn’t remember how or when she got there. Her head hurt, she felt dizzy and the skin on her face felt as if it were on fire. She walked up to the sink in the corner and splashed some cold water on her face. He eyes caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror and she froze. The face she was looking at wasn’t hers.
2) “You want me to kill your entire family?”
3) “Come out, come out wherever you are,” the man said, cleaning the blood from his last victim from his blade. The entire family was dead. The only one left was Monica, a twelve-year-old blonde girl who loved to play hide and seek. “I’m coming for you little girl.”
SB: Fantastic! Thank you. Moving onto the less bookish questions, may I ask what your greatest fear is?
I don’t really like spiders, but I’d have to say that my greatest fear would be not being able to write. I never knew I’d love it so much. I knew I loved reading, but I love writing even more. So not being able to do what I love would be my greatest fear.
SB: What made you leave your job as a criminal psychologist and become a glam rock musician?
Glam rock musicians get more girls than criminal psychologists. What can I say, I was young.
SB: Laughs! What one instance when touring as a professional musician, which sticks in your mind the most?
Private dinner party at Pavarotti’s restaurant in Modena, Italy, the night before the first ever Pavarotti and Friends. I was the guitarist with Michael Bolton. I met U2, Duran Duran, Meatloaf and Princess Diana. That was a fantastic night.
SB: Oh, my goodness! Yes, that *would* be pretty hard to forget! What sort of character would you least like to meet in a dark alleyway, and why?
I guess a big guy with a deranged look on his face and a carving knife covered in blood in his hand.
Because he’s a big guy with a deranged look on his face and a carving knife covered in blood in his hand.
SB: That’s an image *I* won’t be able to forget very easily! Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?
I do try to come up with wild things, but they have to be believable to make the stories scarier. I do come up with things that scare other people and they always ask me how did I think of something like that, but because of what I studied and the people I met while I was a criminal psychologist, I don’t think I can come up with anything wild enough to scare myself.
SB: Suppose you go home, enter your house/apartment, hit the light switch, and nothing happens – no light floods the room. What would you do or think?
I don’t scare very easily, so I’d probably think – “My bulb is gone.” Or “I forgot to pay my electricity bill – again.”
SB: Awwww! What would I find in your fridge right now?
I’m a bit of a heath freak, so I have – fruit, lean ham, juice, diet Coke, low fat cheese, corn on the cob, skimmed milk, Actimel and ice coffees. Oh! And somebody’s severed hand.
SB: [Thinks: I wonder if I am the only interviewer who’d wished she’d thought that question through better?] SB: Why are manhole covers round?
I guess because manholes are round, or else they wouldn’t fit.
SB: Well, not if the holes were square – I mean, who said holes should be round, or tubular (if you want to be fussy) in the first place? Anyway… Where can I get a Crucifix Killer tattoo, like the those on your website http://www.chriscarterbooks.com/photos.htm ? 🙂
S&S has sent me a few. If you don’t mind sending me a postal address I can put a few in the post for you. 🙂
SB: Yes! Thank you. Can you guess what is going to appear on my site in a few days time? Which reminds me, I must get my camera fixed! Have you written any other books, if so, what are they? (I ask this because I am getting this question from other readers and would like to know for sure, the answer!
Prior to The Crucifix Killer I hadn’t written even a short story. I’d written term papers for university, but I don’t think those count.
Finally, upon reading your website news, I see you have finished editing your second novel. When do you envisage this being available to your UK readers? How many books are you hoping to write in this Robert Hunter series?
The second novel is scheduled for release in July 2010. I guess as long as people want to read a story with Robert Hunter, I’ll keep writing them. I like the character, and hopefully I’ll get to write a few more books featuring Hunter.
SB: Fantastic! Thanks very much for being such a game sport. I’ve enjoyed the interview and look forward to reading the following books in the Robert Hunter series. Good luck, have fun, and don’t forget first post has to be out by 1.00pm tomorrow. 🙂
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