Sometime within the next 24 hours, the collector’s edition of my “serial killer gets a Boston Terrier” novella KUTTER will go up for pre-order from Cargo Cult Press, with the book set to ship this December.
Now, when I say “collector’s edition,” I frickin’ mean it. The print run is crazy-low (only 85 copies!) and the price is crazy-high (I’m not even going to mention it here—you can see for yourself when pre-orders begin). There’ll be a civilian edition at some point, I promise, but this will be the first edition and my rarest limited edition book, and when the economy swings back and PRESSURE: The Movie makes $850 million domestically at the box office, I think it’ll have been a good investment.
A little about KUTTER…
In my novella DISPOSAL, the narrator is an absolute scumbag. Frank is reprehensible, unredeemable, and happy to be that way. It was a lot of fun to write an entire story from his point of view, and plenty of readers commented on how Frank was strangely likable, despite being a complete prick. He’s entertaining. He’s funny. He’s shameless. You wouldn’t him to move in with you, but he’s charismatic. Similarly, Darren Rust, the villain of my novel PRESSURE, is a horrible, horrible human being, but it’s easy to see why he and Alex Fletcher become friends. He’s a nice guy, when he’s not using his knife…
With KUTTER, I wanted to challenge myself. Honestly, it’s not that hard to make a serial killer into a likable character. But what if he was inarticulate, uncharismatic, and just flat-out pathetic? Charlie Stanlon isn’t just the kind of guy who locks women in his basement and tortures them to death–he’s the weasel at work who goes straight to the boss when you make a mistake. He’s not a villain you love to hate, he’s a mopey creep with nothing much to like about him.
The challenge? Go as far with that character as I could, and then dig him out of the hole, courtesy of an adorable Boston Terrier named Kutter.
This led to other challenges, because I couldn’t dig into my usual bag of tools. Charlie can’t speak in witty repartee or one-liners. He doesn’t see the world in clever turns of phrase. The book is written in third person, but it’s entirely from Charlie’s point-of-view, so the use of actual “jokes” was inappropriate. In many ways, KUTTER is the opposite of my usual approach, which is to take an unfunny premise and infuse it with wacky humor. KUTTER takes the silly “serial killer gets a doggie” premise and treats with bleak realism.
It’s still a dark comedy, but it’s definitely closer to PRESSURE than, say, BENJAMIN’S PARASITE.
Here’s a partial transcript from the July 30th Diabolical Radio podcast (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/diabolicalradio):
“Very, very dark book…for anyone who’s read PRESSURE, which is his Leisure debut, I’m not gonna say it’s darker than PRESSURE, but it’s pretty close…..It basically shows that even the sickest person has a soft spot for something…The stuff that happens throughout is damn amazing, and Jeff Strand is gonna be a freakin’ Name, like Brian Keene, who starts rising and rising and rising…”
Right after I finished the book I sent it to some fellow authors for their thoughts. Adrienne Jones, author of BRINE and GYPSIES STOLE MY TEQUILA, said:
“I can’t stop thinking about this now, because I’m realizing that this book is making me more uncomfy than a regular thriller BECAUSE the concept is cute. But this is what you do differently than anyone else–you ease us in with the cuteness, trick us into thinking the character is redeemable, then [spoiler deleted]. When you do your usual humor books, it makes the extremity of it really funny, no question. BUT, although KUTTER is conceptually funny, without your usual rapier wit, this is really some DARK s**t.”
From Michael McBride, author of BLOODLETTING and REMAINS:
“It might not be exactly like your past comedies, but as far as dark comedies go, I thought it was excellent. Like I said before, it reminded me of The DARK BACKWARD, which I thought at the time was absolutely brilliant. You maintained the dreary atmosphere throughout and made Charlie into a likeable character. That was no small feat!”
From Greg Lamberson, author of PERSONAL DEMONS and director of the upcoming motion picture extravaganza SLIME CITY MASSACRE:
“Hey, KUTTER is reminding me (in a good way) of the original WILLARD. [Different e-mail, after he’s finished it.] As moving a serial killer story as has ever been told. It went off in several directions I didn’t expect.”
Then I got an e-mail from a reader named Robyn Miles, who loved PRESSURE and had a link to the Humane Society as her signature line. She took me up on my offer to read KUTTER, and said:
“I read KUTTER this morning. You must be a true animal lover as only somebody who has had a close relationship with an animal could write those words. [Lots of spoilers deleted.] I love the story and it’s written extremely well.”
Keep watching this spot for the official notice when KUTTER goes up for pre-order. If you’re all like “Only 85 copies? What if I miss out? WHAT IF I MISS OUT???” send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a notice before I even update my website/blog/newsletter. This doesn’t obligate you to order a copy, and I won’t keep bugging you about it.