While most of the time I find that books that are labeled with warnings of intense violence or disturbing images are not disturbing in the slightest, for once I've found a novella that actually is what it claims to be. "Normalcy" by Kim Cooney is a first person narrative that follows a young woman named Christine as she discovers the "joys" of murder as she blossoms into a predatory serial killer.
Now, I'm not one for torture porn or slasher flicks or books about serial killers. I find them trite, overdone and excuses for senseless violence against poor defenseless attractive women (and sometimes defenseless good looking men). That being said, "Normalcy" really impressed me. Cooney's choice of words create a vivid picture of the life of a disturbed woman as we follow her development from an abused child that tortures animals into a young woman who is a vicious serial killer.
Cooney writes with tight prose, and for once I was left wanting more after I read the book. "Normalcy" has chilling descriptions of gratuitous violence and a little bit of gratuitous sex, and that's OK. The main character, Christine, describes in detail what it feels like to kill people, and what drives her to do it. She takes on the role of the predator, luring victims in close with her sex appeal or using her wits to lie on the spot and tell people exactly what they need to hear in order to give her sympathy.
"Normalcy" made me uncomfortable. It is that disturbing, because the descriptions are so real and highly believable. Fiction writing requires that you get your facts right in order for a reader to be able to suspend her disbelief. Certain things need to correspond with reality, such as character behavior and actions. That's not to say that all characters should be molded to cliched stereotypes, but they should act according to their personality; both her flaws and virtues. If a character's actions fit, the reader gets more into the story.
A lot of stories turn me off because the characters are forced into behaviors and actions that, if they were real people, they'd never do. Such as Mr. Suspicious going an opening the door to his house to a complete stranger when he'd probably pull the blinds shut and double-check the dead bolt on his front door. Or characters that are rude, cold and unlikeable are treated warmly by everyone and become the most popular person in school when in reality, she'd be shunned for her lack of tact or interest in others. *cough* Bella from "Twilight."
Christine's narrative is insanity done right. I highly recommend "Normalcy." It was written by someone who was knowledgeable about the subject and edited the novella before it was published Which is refreshing to say the least, as this is sorely lacking in the world of self ePublishing.
"Normalcy" is definitely worth your time. You can purchase your own copy in PDF or ePub format for $5 at http://www.fastpencil.com/publications/2844-normalcy
The following is my interview with Kim Cooney.
Your descriptions of the thought processes of a sociopath are pretty spot on. How much research did you have to do before you began writing your short story?Oddly, I didn't do any. When the idea popped into my head, I just sat down and started writing. I have been intrigued by human psychology my whole life and psychopaths and sociopaths have been my favorites. Between that and my fascination for the darker things in life, I would say that is where my knowledge has come from.
What spurred your interest in writing about a female serial killer?I thought it would be good to put something out there that you don't often see. Everything I read or watch in a movie has always been about males. Today's society is already scared of bad men, I wanted to go beyond that and get people thinking on a different level. Besides, I thought it would make for a different and interesting story.
How did you become interested in the macabre?I have been a fan of it my whole life. When I was about seven my parents loaded up the wagon with us five kids and took us to the drive-in to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While we were watching the movie I turned my head to not watch a scary part, and the bush right next to my window was moving like someone was in it. That scared the hell out of me, and after my dad showed me nothing was there I realized the excitement the whole episode stirred up inside of me, and from that day on I have liked being scared.
How did you come up with the idea of "Normalcy?"I was working in the house one day with the TV on in the background when I heard "Those are natural thoughts for serial killers, they can't understand why the rest of us don't think that way." The next thing I knew, the concept of this book was floating around in my head.
Can you explain your writing process?I really cannot. I just sit down in front of the computer and this is what comes out of me. One day I was at home bored, and I sat down at the desk and just listened to the noises outside. I put my hands to the keyboard and just started writing. A while later I had the start of what seemed would be a really good book. My whole life I have written poetry and songs, and it came very naturally to me, but this was the first time I ever thought about writing a book. That book will be a full sized novel called "Controlled Insanity" and will be coming out soon. I put Normalcy out first as a feeler to see if there would be a fan base for this type of writing.
Would you recommend Fastpencil.com to other authors that are looking to going the ePublishing route?Absolutely! I did a lot of research and found fastpencil to be one of the best. There are some big name authors using them, and that told me a lot as well. The site is very user friendly and they take care of everything for you, all you have to do is go in and start writing. I love Fastpencil and I will use them exclusively from now on.
Are you going to develop "Normalcy" into a full novel? If so, when can we expect to see it?Actually, I am going to take the main character from Normalcy and incorporate her into the series of stories that will come out of Controlled Insanity. We will definitely be seeing more of Christine.