I’ve been writing my mystery novel, “Body In The Bush” for so long now, I’m not even sure how long it’s been. For most of that time, I’ve had the idea to also produce a “murder book”.
You see, one of the characters is a vigilante killer who is unnamed for most of the book. Their chapters are written from a different point of view than the rest of the book in order to put us into their head. To “ride-along”, in a sense. One of the things that I find interesting is that this character wasn’t planned. While I have notes on all the other major characters, I have none on this character. They just stepped from the ether one day, slightly twisted and whispering in my ear what they were going to do.
You hear authors sometimes talk about how they were woken by some brilliant idea, but it had never happened to me…my sleep is far too fractured and messed up for that.
But one night, it actually happened!
I was so glad that I’d kept the notebook and pen beside the bed, I scribbled it out in my haste to get it all down before the dream I’d seen it in disappeared. (For the record, I don’t remember my dreams often, so when I do, it’s a big deal.)
For reference, this was before any of us knew what COVID was.
In the dream, I saw my vigilante adding little mementos, trophies really, to this photo album with a peaceful gaze. A scrap of denim from the drug dealer that should never have been released from jail, a bit of hair from the wife-beater…you get the idea. I saw the album as the sort of thing that teenage girls used to keep back in the 50s. Ticket stubs from concerts, maybe a lock of hair from the boy they carried a torch for, a photo of the movie star or singer they crushed on…do teenage girls still do this? My point is, I could see this vigilante killer/serial killer keeping their little trophies, and I could easily envision this as a very real, physical and tangible item that a reader could actually hold. But who would want such a thing?
Off to the web, I went. Apparently, the collecting of such items is known as murderabilia, and it’s an insanely popular thing! I spent a few minutes roaming through serialkillershop.com becoming more horrified the further I went. I’m worried someone would find my prop in bad taste, yet I could buy a t-shirt that says, “I had a killer time at the Jim Jones Kool-Aid festival”. Oh my God! At least my collection is fictional!
Over at the Murder Museum, one can buy a vial of dirt from Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home, wood pieces from Ted Bundy’s cellar, a lock of Charles Manson’s hair and an extracted tooth from Hadden Clark for $666.00! (Because of course it would be $666)
Why would anyone pay money for these things?!
It has been pointed out to me that this sort of collecting isn’t too far off other collections.
I disagree. I think there’s a world of difference between collecting pens that past Presidents & Prime Ministers used to sign documents into law and serial killer’s teeth! This isn’t Sidney Crosby’s hockey card we’re talking about. Ted Bundy is famous because he was evil, not because he was skilled with skates and a stick!
So I don’t feel so bad about the “murder book” prop that I’d like to create one day. I envision auctioning it off to benefit charity. Maybe my local food bank or shelter for abused women & their children.
What’s your take on all this?