I’m in the middle of assuming the role of my character Rainey Bell. She is a former FBI behavioral analyst and is always battling evil around every corner. When I write these books, I first review all my research on the process of analyzing criminal behavior. I immerse myself in a library of books and data, assimilated over many years of fascination with the subject. I’ve been reading true crime since childhood, (I pilfered my mother’s stash of novels and a few detective magazines, very scandalous reading for a pre-teen,) and studying the FBI Behavioral Analyst Unit since the seeds of its development were sown in the seventies. I’m John Douglas’s nightmare, an armchair analyst. I won’t say worst nightmare, because I’m sure his worst nightmares are out of the realm of understanding for most of us. (Douglas was one of the first “profilers,” along with Roy Hazelwood and Robert Ressler.) I’m a “Criminal Minds” devotee, able to spot the facts of actual cases in the plot lines, playing “name the real serial killer modus operandi or signature” with every episode. (The guy that put the lipstick on the dead bodies out in the woods, that was Ted Bundy.) Assuming Rainey’s character heightens my awareness of the existence of evil. I totally agree with Rainey’s thoughts on the matter, “I’m not paranoid, just prepared. There is a distinct difference and a higher survival rate for the latter.”
So, I’m in this frame of mind and Deb calls me from her office. She was just passing the time before her next class and saw an article in the paper she thought I would be interested in. Some guy cut up his mother and put her in the freezer, just a few miles from here. Yep, she knows me well. This article led to the following conversation:
Me: You know there could be one of those people in your class and you would never know it.
Deb: I’ve had a few that gave off that creepy vibe, but that guy they arrested for murder was nice. I had no idea he was the leader of a gang and killed his girlfriend.
Me: And then dug her up twice to move the body. Yep, it’s the ones that don’t creep you out you should be worried about. You can see the creepy ones coming. Speaking of weird vibes, have you seen that one guy this year?
Deb: No, I haven’t seen him since the middle of last semester, but I still have his gym bag in my office.
Me: Have you looked in the bag?
Deb: No, and I have no desire to.
Me: (laughing) There could be a head in there.
Deb: I think I would have smelled a head by now.
Me: Not if it was only a skull.
(Long pause where I hear only breathing.)
Me: Now you’re staring at that bag, aren’t you?
Deb: Yes. Thank you for planting that seed.
Me: No problem. Anytime. (lots of laughter.)
Deb: I have to go to class now.
Me: Watch out for the ones with that shark-eyed stare.
Deb: How long are you going to be channeling Rainey this time?
Me: As long as it takes, honey.
Deb: Okay, got to go.
Me: Look in the bag.
Deb: Not a chance. Bye.
I’m not the only one living with my characters. Bless all those poor spouses of authors out there. Living with us and our creations has to be an interesting ride.