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Charlie Stanlon is a serial killer. A ghastly, vicious sociopath who chains women to a table in his basement and tortures them to death. He has no friends. He has no family. He despises his co-workers. His only pleasure in life is to cause pain and terror.
Until the day he finds an adorable Boston Terrier and takes it home…
“…easily the most perfect blending of dark (REALLY dark) humor, horror, and psychological suspense that Strand has produced to date.” — Musings of an All-Purpose Monkey
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…”
Kutter was originally published as a hardcover limited edition by Cargo Cult Press, and also as half of THE MAD & THE MACABRE, which included REMAINS by Michael McBride.