I’m not sure where my fascination with crime and thrillers first stemmed, but I can say with almost one hundred percent certainty that I’ve never read a fictional book where no one was killed or no crime was committed. It sounds pretty morbid when I read those words, but honestly, I think it all comes back to what’s at stake. The more that’s at stake, the higher the level of excitement and tension. My goal with writing is to create a book that I would want to read, and crime/action thrillers are the type of books that excite me because they have the highest stakes.
I suppose that my love of crime thrillers could be attributed to the fact that most people, including myself, lead fairly normal lives. We don’t face life-and-death circumstances. We’ve never been accused of murder. We’ve never had a serial killer invade our quiet lives. But these are fears and situations that we can explore through the world of fiction. A talented author or filmmaker can put us in the shoes of someone that has experienced things that we can only dream of or has faced the things that we fear the most. But in the end, we still get to come back to reality and lead a safe and happy life. Fiction is the ultimate escape because it’s the only time when you can escape yourself. And if I’m going to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, I want that person to lead a life or have experiences that are drastically different from my own.
Going a step farther, it’s a lot of fun to get into the head of a killer and imagine the world through a different set of eyes, but it’s like an actor playing a role. I don’t become a killer or let dark thoughts consume me. I think that we all have a darker side (myself apparently more than others), and I just tap into that part of my brain. But that’s the cool (and therapeutic) thing about writing…I get to be all of the characters, good and bad, hero and villain.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that my sense of compassion for both the killers and victims has grown since writing this type of book. A lot of situations within The Shepherd and The Prophet stem from imagining the scariest possible scenarios for me on a personal level, from both an internal and external viewpoint. The highest stakes, if you will. It’s not what I’d like to do to someone else; it’s what I would never want to happen to me. And I think that’s why it resonates.
International bestselling author Ethan Cross is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month, which means we are offering sensational deals on his work. You can read more about the program here.