Late last summer, I sat down with my manuscript and started pulling quotes. That first batch ended up being mostly quotes said by my serial killer character, because … well, for one thing, he talks a lot. And he’s also rather quotable. Master of the sound bite, that’s Jay Michael Robinson.
I was kind of in a rush because, if you’ve ever visited the UP, you know we can get snow at any time. Not Your Mary Sue takes place in the summer, though, and I wanted to catch things before snow and ice moved in. So basically I’ve had these photographs for months, over half a year, and it blows my mind that I only have five more Jay quotes to post before the book is actually out.
Five weeks from today. Holy cow. Five weeks from today, people will be reading my book and putting these quotes in context.
Part of what Jay does when he’s talking is try to convince Marcy – and the eventual people he imagines will read the book she writes about him – is attempt to normalize himself. Sure, fine, he’s a serial killer, but he’s not all that different from the rest of us. He’s acted on his darker impulses, but we all have them. Right?
Have you watched Conversations With a Killer (either the Ted Bundy season or the new John Wayne Gacy season) or read something like The Gates of Janus (written by Moors Murderer Ian Brady) or “I”: The Creation of a Serial Killer by Jack Olsen and Keith Hunter Jesperson? These are the serial killers who have been identified, sentenced, and have discovered they have an audience. They don’t have to hide who they are anymore, and maybe they get to perform a bit.
That’s where Jay is when he meets Marcy: ready to spill everything, because he’s about to be caught. She’s just the, uh … lucky person who gets to hear all of it first.
Jay is polite, for certain values of “polite.” Yes, fine, he’s murdered over a dozen women, but he can still make sure to act as the perfect host for Marcy during their summer together. She’s not like those other girls, and he’s not going to treat her that way.
But it might also be creepier, because he’s clearly capable of thinking about her comfort … at least when it’s going to serve his needs. If she’s going to write his life story (and make it a bestseller), then he needs to make sure she’s fed and comfortable and able to both listen and take notes. So even his apparent kindness has that ulterior motive.
First, I’d like you to imagine me on a public beach with this sign in my hand. It’s in Eagle River, right next to The Fitz, which is an absolutely amazing restaurant you should visit if you’re ever in the area, but I timed my arrival not to be at lunch or dinner. For some reason. There were still a few people out, but I don’t know how closely they paid attention to me.
Jay has some self-esteem issues. He’s telling Marcy his life story, and he can’t exactly keep all of this hidden. If he’s asking Marcy – and his eventual readers – to relate to him, then he figures he’s got to really open up and tell them everything.
Whether or not he’s “good at” killing is something I’ll leave up to you.
This is Agate Beach, and I had it to myself that day because it was just after a huge thunderstorm. Both Superior and the sky were absolutely gorgeous, and even though my hands froze in the wind, I didn’t drop any of my letters in the sand while changing between quotes, so that’s a win. The difference between the days really shows the difference in Superior’s moods, too.
Jay tells Marcy to trust him early on, but not before he’s admitted to being a serial killer. She knows that the man telling her this – and offering her some sort of drug – has already killed almost twenty women, and she’s really only got his word that she’s not going to be the next one. She’s his guest, yes, but …
Well. How much should anyone trust a man on short notice even if he hasn’t confessed to serial murder?
I am really looking forward to being able to talk about Jay (and Marcy) without being quite so cagy. There’s so much I’m looking forward to sharing – and I only have to wait five more weeks!
And if you make it up to the UP, make sure to check out The Fitz. It’s a small restaurant, so make those reservations early.