Saturday, June 13, 2015

On Creating Monsters

For some of us, creating monsters can be difficult for our psyches. To get inside a character capable of heinous crimes is disturbing. My guess is that it's a lot harder for me than it is for Stephen King.
My daughter's grandparents were in the Holocaust in Hungary. They told me stories that were horrible to hear. Hungary had an organization called the Arrow Cross, a fascist organization that was as brutal as the Nazis. They would round up Jews and commit unspeakable acts.
In my novel, set in the late 50s, an Arrow Cross butcher is killing Jews who fled Hungary during the revolution and settled in America. When I had to write about his crimes in Hungary it would disturb me in ways that made me feel as if I was this sadist I was creating. For me, it was truly unsettling to get inside the mind of this man.
Today, I have a favorite crime series that I've been reading in the order of publication. Unfortunately, this time a group of important men are imprisoning young women and killing them in "snuff" movies or selling them to other organizations. This book is really upsetting me. I told my wife who told me "it's only a book."
My problem is that this insight doesn't help. The writer of this series has managed to make me angry, disgusted and truly horrified. This woman is a tremendous writer and I'm trapped in the world she's created. Perhaps, what makes some people writers, makes them capable of this suspension of disbelief that sometimes seems more like a curse than a blessing.

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