“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real, too.  They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King

My current work in progress, The Perfect Hero, is a romantic psychological thriller.  I am discovering many new things in the process of this one that I have not encountered before.  The research is different, and the details are everything.  Reality and believability are not the same, and the lines are never straight.  But the one unexpected thing I have learned is this – just as building a romance can uncover your inner Cinderella complex, constructing a horrific villain can unleash your inner Hannibal Lector.

Don’t worry.  I haven’t purchased any fava beans or chianti.

I’ve always been a been huge fan of the serial killer writers.  Jeff Lindsay, Thomas Harris, Jeffrey Deaver – they have given me many a gleeful sleepless night.  I am also a Stephen King junkie; therefore, I don’t let my foot hang over the side of the bed and the closet door is always closed.

Write what you know, they say.

I wonder how many of us follow this edict.  How many of the names on our To Be Read lists are courageous enough to let loose onto the page?  How many of us take what we know, what we believe, what we fight, what we love, and twist and mold and manipulate it into our stories?  Can we, or should we, control it?  Maybe the better question is, how do we NOT let the monsters loose?

Is it possible to genuinely ignore our own psychosis and neurosis?  Can we compartmentalize our histories, our fears, the things we long for and the things that we hide from?  What happens to our trauma?  Writing fiction isn’t like building a car engine.  There are no proprietary parts, no universal tools, other than the mind and the page.  What you make is (or should be) what comes from you, in all it’s muddied glory.  That includes the hero and the bad guy.

Letting loose the voices and the demons is not for the faint of heart, which is probably why so many of the great writers drank, I suppose.  It’s not like herding cats to put them away.  It’s a siege to the soul that must be fought alone and with little weaponry.

One of my favorite King quotes is from The Body, the short story upon which the film Stand By Me was based.

“The most important things are the hardest to say.”

This may be the only real reason to be a writer.  Because you get to say them, even if the only one who knows is you.