Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where my book ideas come from: Bad Thoughts


Back in 1996 I was working with an agent who was trying to sell Fast Lane, and he gave me this plot he wanted me write. It was kind of a knockoff of Silence of the Lambs that involved an FBI profiler whose parents were killed years earlier by some nasty serial killer, and she's now hunting down this same killer. I didn't want to do this, and instead reworked the plot significantly to be Bad Thoughts. At the time I was very much into trying to induce an out of body experience and astral voyages, taking Boston Adult Education classes in it, reading books, doing exercises to induce one, etc. and so that whole subject plays heavily in Bad Thoughts. Also, some beyond terrible stuff happened that put me in a really bad state of mind when I wrote it, and that's probably why it turned out to be my bleakest and grimmest book.

4 comments:

Naomi Johnson said...

When I read this book is when I first realized that you never limit yourself when it comes to what your characters might say or do or think. I've noticed it with every book of yours since. I don't know where that kind of mental or creative freedom comes from; I only wish I had it, too.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Naomi, what comes down to is trying to have my characters act honestly given who they are in all situations.

I did however force myself to tone down the flashback scene when Shannon was 13. I originally wrote it having Winters perform acts someone like him would perform, and editors & agents who read this early version questioned my psychological makeup. So that one scene ended up being the one place I compromised and was a bit dishonest with how Winters acted.

Naomi Johnson said...

Every really good writer has had his/her psychological makeup questioned at some point. Consider it as you would a merit badge.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Well, they were right. I went too far. I tried to make it subtle, and I wrote it subtly enough where my wife missed what Winters was making Shannon do, but one agent who liked Fast Lane quite a bit, wrote me back after I sent him Bad Thoughts to ask what the hell was wrong with me for writing that scene.