I started Blue Star summer of 2010. There were a few things I had to research to get started.
First and foremost, serial killers, America’s most romanticized sociopaths. I needed to know as much as I possibly could until my attention span ran out. Now, I’m a big fan of murder mysteries—have been for years—so I at least had an idea of what I was getting into writing one. And I knew it was going to be gruesome. (I’m a big fan of Wire in the Blood and Criminal Minds and that sort of thing. Crime dramas are fun!) How gruesome? Gruesome. Serial killers, baby.
So I went to Google. Hey man, don’t judge me. It led me to many websites on serial killers, but the one I remember was the FBI’s website. Yeah, they’ve got one, and it was actually highly informative.
Naturally, I checked out Wikipedia as well. They put things very succinctly, and often have links you can bounce to for further information.
Things blur a little here. I think once I verified I was going to be making a serial killer, I needed to get down to the nitty-gritty and start emulating the masters.
Yes, good ole Wikipedia. Don’t look at me like that, I’m not doing this for school, it doesn’t have to be cited or anything. Anyway, Wiki is concise and for the most part accurate.
First, I went here, to the list of unidentified serial killers. You know them—Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer, the Original Night Stalker. Well, even the more obscure ones are on here. This is what I needed. These were the guys that got away…how did they do it?
As it turns out, for the most part, they got away because technology was shit and procedures were shit. Look them over. My memory isn’t great, but if I recall correctly a lot of them were working in the times before the computer, our greatest technological boom of recent years. Before the internet, and databases, and INSTANT INSTANT INSTANT. Communication was a little harder back then and information didn’t get around as quickly, and forensics weren’t the same back then either.
Okay, how about the ones that didn’t get away with it? I’m talking big bad guys here: Bundy, Gacy, Dahmer, Berkowitz. Pretty looking bunch of guys, aren’t they? (Well, Bundy, yeah, okay.) There were others I poked at, but I can’t remember them right now except for the Unabomber and Ed Gein. What was I looking for? Everything. Methodology, motives, cooldown periods. These were some bad, fucked up people, and I was going to read all about them. Had to get into the mind of the killer, right?
It was sometime around reading what Dahlmer did to his victims that the weight of their actions suddenly came crashing down. Holy shit. This was disgusting. This was disturbing. This was all kinds of wrong, and the fact that these people had ever done this was wrong, and the fact that people out there would do this was wrong. It was terrible and horrific. (Seriously, go read the articles, and try to imagine plumbing full of rotting human flesh.)
This was grim stuff, and it put me in exactly the kind of mindset I needed.
(As an amusing note, I found a book last year at Barnes and Noble about serial killers, in alphabetical order. Can’t deny I was tempted to buy it.)