Guest Post – Steven Dunne: Serial Heroes
Last year I invited 5 authors to join me to discuss the books that they loved. I wanted to know about an ongoing series which they looked forward to reading or a collection of books that they just loved to revisit. I called the feature Serial Heroes and you can catch up on that week here.
Now I am thrilled to be able to share Serial Heroes Season 2. I have more guests who have fantastic books to discuss and they will tell us why these stories mean so much to them. Once again I had wanted to hear about the heroes they enjoy reading or, in the case of my first guest – Steven Dunne – should that perhaps be an anti-hero?
I discovered crime novels when I was very young starting with the wonderful Agatha Christie. In my late teens, I left Christie behind for a few years, not because they weren’t still brilliant books but because the milieu in which they were set had very little social relevance to a working class boy growing up in Yorkshire trying to find himself.
But a decade or so later I re-discovered the genre with The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris which just blew me away and I devoured Red Dragon and his other novels. What appealed particularly about his work was the total amorality of the serial killers he portrayed. The idea that an individual could simply ignore all of the conventions and social niceties that the rest of us take for granted, not even consider them as important or relevant, and commit crimes according to their own needs and psychological drives, was strange and amazing to me. Nobody else’s human rights had value and I thought it was fantastic the way Harris portrayed both Buffalo Bill but particularly Dr Hannibal Lecter.
At the outset his depraved agenda appeared alien but the fact that it was so natural to him gave me pause for thought. It also impressed and excited me and I began to examine why I was drawn to such a fictional monster. Thankfully I wasn’t alone – Hannibal had clearly struck a chord with the reading and cinema-going public – so I didn’t have to classify myself as an oddball.
And it didn’t take long to realise that we all envy aspects of the psychopathy of serial killers, particularly those classified as organised. We regard them as omnipotent figures possessing the will to follow their desires to the exclusion of every other consideration. These killers are our complete opposites. Where ordinary people have to make daily compromises that eat away at our sense of self and lead to feelings of powerlessness, serial killers have the resolve to act where we would keep silent and tolerate. In effect, we have to suffer fools while serial killers get to eat them with a nice Chianti. Their killings tap into our own exasperation with people who bore or irritate. I loved the idea of killing and eating a census taker purely as a response to annoyance because we all have similar impulses which we have had to tame.
And so when I decided to write a novel of my own, it seemed a good idea to have a stab at a thriller in which the serial killer wasn’t shameful or apologetic about their deeds but gloried in the righteousness of his kills. Hopefully all my serial killers – from The Reaper to the Deity killer to the Pied Piper from The Unquiet Grave carry traces of the same DNA that made Hannibal Lecter such a compelling creation. And in that DNA there should be a trace of all us, enabling us to empathise with at least the serial killer’s determination to act, where we would hesitate.
Steven Dunne’s Amazon page is here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Steven-Dunne/e/B0045BIAWA/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1462135086&sr=8-1 where you can order copies of all his books. On Thursday 5th May Steven’s latest book DEATH DO US PART is released – you can order that here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Do-Part-Damen-Brook-ebook/dp/B011IYIDQY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
You can find Steven on Twitter @ReaperSteven or at his own website: https://sdunne2013.wordpress.com/