1) A worried shared is not always a worry halved
In Little Bones, protagonist Cherrie is living a half-life; constantly worried people will discover her serial killer father’s identity. Although I don’t have that worry, I am a chronic worrier. I know what it’s like for your mind to twist even the most mundane event into something catastrophic. Advice given to me was to share my worries with someone I trust. Unlike me, Cherrie has a good reason to worry, years of rumours and discrimination has forced her to conceal part of herself, and if she shared that worry, she would share a secret that could ruin her life—would you trust anyone enough with a secret like that?
2) We’ve only just scratched the surface with serial killers
Why do they do what they do? What goes through their minds? Thousands of books, both fiction and non-fiction, have sought to dissect the serial killer and as an author I am no exception. I already knew a lot about serial killers after listening to true crime podcasts and gravitating towards killer non-fiction, but for Little Bones, I dug deeper into the psychology. I didn’t want to base Mr Bones on an actual killer, so came up with the idea of a severe case of the eccentricity effect. This is when an artist (of any medium) commits weird acts to set themselves apart from their peers. Mr Bones wants to be a famed artist and he thinks he will achieve his dreams by creating sculptures from boy’s bones.
As much as we know about serial killers, I can’t help but think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Just like when studying animals - we can only catalogue what we find. Hence, we can only talk about killers who the police have caught. Murders and missing person cases go unsolved every day, so there could be many more types of serial killers on the loose. Ones we just haven’t caught yet.
3) Opinions can be stronger than fact – even though they shouldn’t be
You’ve probably experienced this yourself; once someone has an opinion on a topic or person, it can be almost impossible to change; in fact, all evidence they see from then on is twisted to fit that opinion. The brain works hard to form your view of the world, and this cognitive bias happens for a reason; it’s streamlining your everyday experience, leaving you to concentrate on more complex tasks. In Little Bones, the podcast gets to the story first; it projects evidence supporting a narrative that will give it the most subscribers. From then, regardless of evidence, the audience’s opinion is harder to sway, leaving protagonist Cherrie adrift in a sea of rumours and accusations.
4) Podcasts can be deadly in the wrong hands
I love true crime podcasts; they can be an amazing tool in solving cold cases. They give a much needed platform for investigators to shine a light on unsolved crimes. Yet, in the wrong hands, a podcast twisting facts to prove an unfounded hypothesis could easily cause harm. In the book, The Flesh on the Bones podcast creates the cognitive bias, and in doing so starts a dangerous chain of events.
This is not just limited to podcasts; cloaked in the guise of reporting the truth. How many lies and twisted stories have we all been told?
5) If you see something, do something
When I was at school, a teacher told us a story about a screaming woman dragged by a man through crowded streets. Crying for help, bystanders did just that, they stood by. Consoling themselves with thoughts of:
‘It’s not my business.’
‘It’s probably some experimental theatre piece.’
‘I shouldn’t get involved in a domestic.’
Later that day, the police found the screaming woman dead. I don’t know whether the story was true, or just an urban legend used to prove our teacher’s point, but it got to me. In Little Bones, Cherrie doesn’t hesitate to get involved when she sees something bad happening, which is both a bad and good personality trait. Readers could see her as irrational and violent, but I hope, as her author, they read her as a strong female character with a sad past who, if you were in trouble, wouldn’t hesitate to defend you.
Want to read Cherrie’s full story? Little Bones eBook is released Halloween 2020, and paperback is out 10th Dec. Audio book, with exclusive extra content, is also available 10th Dec.
I'd booked a weekend at an ancient inn over Hallowe'een in a remote, reputedly haunted hamlet in deepest Suffolk. A suitably ghoulish cab-driver collected me from the deserted railway station and regaled me with tales of polishing off roadkill with his rifle. As we drew near the hamlet, we were engulfed by the thickest fog I've ever experienced. After dumping my bags at the inn, I set off alone into the dark, across the most haunted Common in East Anglia. I was heading for somewhere with the promising name of Dead Man's Covert: also said to be haunted... to read more click HERE
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