by George Ebey
Heywood Gould, former reporter for the NY Post, and author of thirteen books and nine screenplays including Cocktail, Rolling Thunder, and Boys from Brazil, brings us his newest thriller, The Serial Killer’s Daughter.
Peter Vogel has just made a deal with a wacko chick in his American Lit class. If he ghostwrites her papers, she’ll sleep with him. Seeing as how Peter has had his eye on this girl for quite some time, the deal seems like a good idea. She stays around just long enough to make him fall crazy in love then disappears. Six months later, she shows back up like nothing happened. Then things start to get weird. Peter’s apartment is invaded. Bodies are found in a dumpster. Thugs try to run him off the road. One night, the girl confesses: she’s the daughter of a notorious serial killer, doing life in super max for eleven murders. Someone is trying to kill her and Peter is the only one who can protect her. But now they’re stalking him, too. On the road, in hotels, everywhere. The cops don’t believe them. They think the two are mules being hunted by the cartels. In order to survive, Peter and this beautiful, yet mysterious girl have just one chance: to figure out who’s after them and strike first. And the only person who can help them is an insane, vindictive mass murderer – the girl’s dad.
Your book’s title is certainly an attention grabber. Did it come to you early on in the writing process or did it have to percolate for a while?
The title came before the book. I had always wondered what it would like to be related to a serial killer. What happened to the families. How they continued with their lives. How their community reacted. Hence the title and the book.
When we think of serial killers, most of us believe that we have a standard idea of who these people are: Jeffery Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy. What makes the killer of your title stand out from the rest?
The killer in this book is morally oblique. He actually believes that he is the victim in a world of hypocrites and manipulators. He has found a way to completely exonerate himself for what he’s done. He is maddening because he will not repent.
Your story features a protagonist who falls for the daughter of a killer. What interested you in approaching a serial killer story through this unique perspective?
Our daily routine is like a narrow path through a jungle full of ravening beasts waiting to pounce. The slightest misstep can send us into a world of horror. One cell grows into a malignant tumor. A drunken driver veers down a street we’re crossing. A homicidal weirdo opens fire in a bank or a restaurant. A serial killer stalks us for months without our knowledge. I wanted to show what happens to normal people who are suddenly plunged into the alternate universe of insanity that is all around us.
Your last book, Leading Lady, won the Independent Publishing Award bronze medal, was a finalist for the Hammett Prize, and was the Forward Magazine Mystery/Thriller of the Year. Would you care to tell us a little about it?
Leading Lady has a similar theme: a normal woman suddenly forced to survive in a threatening world.
What advice would you give to any bright young college seniors (like Peter) who find themselves propositioned by that one cute co-ed they’ve had their eye on?
Go for it. One way or another it’ll change your life.
For more information, please visit Heywood’s website.