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Bone Music’s story by Christopher Rice is not a classical melody, but more like hard rock. The scenes are riveting and realistic enough that there is an element of believability, alternating between a thriller and the fringes of science fiction.
This consuming read has the heroine trying to overcome her tragic past by rebuilding her life and overcoming her trust issues. The intensity begins from page one when a husband and wife team of serial killers abducts a nine-month-old baby after brutally killing its mother. They raised Trina, hoping to include her in their viciousness, grooming her to follow in their footsteps. Luckily for her, at the age of seven, the FBI raided their hideout.
Yet, throughout her life Trina had to be under the suspicion of some who felt that she was complicit in the murders, labelled as “The Burning Girl.” She attempts to bury her past by changing her name to Charlotte Rowe, and baring her soul to psychologist, Dylan “Cole,” who was pretending to help, but actually had his own agenda. He gives her a supposed calming pill, which is actually an experimental drug. It transforms her adrenaline when triggered by a sense of fear, allowing her to have super strength. Now able to gain back her confidence with a life ruled less by fear, she decides to use her extraordinary ability to fight evil, a serial killer known as the Mask Maker, with the help of the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for this story?
Christopher Rice: It started over ten years ago when a friend of mine mentioned a really gruesome horror movie, SAW. I was so freaked out by the description of the scene that I became fixated on it. I could not get that scene out of my head. In talking to my aunt about it, she told me that imagining a new ending helped her with another story. This is when I realised that I needed to write something that the woman tortured in SAW would have a miraculous show of strength, shake off the shackles, and turn the tables on the sadistically horrible killer. I knew then that I had to make Charlotte a vigilante, wanting to show what can happen when that power dynamic is completely reversed. Thus, Bone Music was born.
EC: As you developed the story did it evolve?
CR: Yes. When I first wrote it, I imagined this woman as an alien. But I realized and was told writing aliens is a giant dead end. I still wanted to write something where there would be a power reversal and the killer would get his due justice. I realized I had to build a character instead of a concept. What gave the woman her power would now be a pharmaceutical drug.
EC: Did your mom, bestselling author Anne Rice, read this story and was she an influence?
CR: No, but she did pick it up for a second and saw the first line was “they didn’t plan to kill my mother.’ She said, ‘hey!’ and I joked with her it is not about you. We do work together, having to read and re-read the scripts for the television show, The Vampire Chronicles. But overall the influences from my mom are more philosophical, such as questions of what it means to be a writer. Most people told her not to write about vampires. Similarly, Bone Music might be a bonkers idea. I know I did not want to write a ‘predictable book,’ with all the conventions and rules. I am very inspired that mom’s success came about while doing something no one has ever done before.
EC: Do you have the same writing process as your mom?
CR: No, we are different types of writers. I joke that she is a binge writer doing it within huge bits of inspiration. She can write a book in several weeks where as I have a daily routine with a daily word count. I write and then edit later.
EC: Do you think the book is part science fiction?
CR: I consider it a sci-fi cross over where it has a gratified fantasy dusted in the grit of existence. What was extraordinary: the drug that makes Charlotte able to do incredible things and the pharmaceutical company that is so wealthy they have infinite resources including their paramilitary units. The drug attacks the process in the brain to prevent fright so that Charlotte is not paralyzed by fear and can actually fight. Also, throughout the series an ongoing question will be why does the drug only work with Charlotte, allowing her a three-hour window where she is capable of absolutely Superhuman strength.
EC: What part of the book is not science fiction?
CR: The focus is on the universe the characters live in, including a town I made up, Altamira, California. The drug was invented by ordinary people in a normal lab. Charlotte also realizes that she has choices to change and adapt to a different perspective and what makes an impact on her life.
EC: Describe Charlotte?
CR: She does everything one step at a time. She is strong, determined, resilient, smart, but has a dark side. When her grandmother died she became grief stricken. Since then she had built walls, but once she decides to make the most of a bad situation and gets a new purpose she is starting to bring the wall down and allow people into her life. After she changed her name from Trina Pierce to Charlotte Rowe she found her own voice. Changing her name was a way to say ‘I can set my own course,’ and make my own identity.
EC: Define Luke who bullied her in high school?
CR: He is making amends and wants redemption, recognizing he treated Charlotte badly. But, now, after hitting a few brick walls he sees a new purpose in helping Charlotte, and has become humble.
EC: Define the psychologist Dylan aka as Cody?
CR: He appears confident and steady but is actually a sociopath. Consider what he did to Charlotte. There is a marriage with his incredible brain to this incredible damaged life.
EC: Describe the antagonist, the Mask Maker?
CR: He has tried to make every aspect of his life perfect, but is unable to do it with his face. People reacted to him based on a primal primitive reading of his facial structure. We are in a culture of ‘lookism.’ The Mask Maker is pathologically fixated on this. This is why I had him say, ‘our faces are masks, rendering our personalities, our behaviors, our true accomplishments, utterly irrelevant, and yet we seem to have utter, idiotic faith in them as indicators of what’s in the soul.’
EC: How would you describe “Bone Music?”
CR: What happens literally to Charlotte’s bones after the drug enters her system.
EC: Please explain this Charlotte quote, “My memory of the fear in his eyes, the pain in his expression as I snapped his wrist, does not fill me with guilt…I removed from the world the hours of agony and torment and terror of his next victims.”
CR: The people Charlotte goes up against are fundamentally evil, and she feels they must be stopped by her. I have to say, as I was writing this I did not feel much remorse for the people who died at Charlotte’s hands. Just as with the military, people should not be weighing in and creating a social media jury system on every combat situation. Especially, since they have no sense of what really went down, and we are not willing to make the sacrifices our men and women in the military must make. I think Charlotte realizes she will go after the worse of the worst and I compare her to the special forces of serial killer trackers. I address through Charlotte when absolute force is justified.
EC: What do you want the readers to get out of the book?
CR: Of course a good entertaining story. I also want the focus to be on survivors, Charlotte in particular, and not on the warped philosophy of the Mask Maker.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?
CR: It is titled Blood Echo. All the characters are coming back and I will continue to craft the series around the town of Altamira, California.