Midnight Ink would like to welcome debut author Brian Klingborg to our blog!
Brian takes a moment to explain why he is extremely into writing those terrifying, scary, creepy, dark mysteries. His first thriller/horror/suspense novel Kill Devil Falls is available now.
I like my mysteries and thrillers the same way I like my coffee – pitch black.
I’ve always been drawn to flawed protagonists, sympathetic villains, gallows humor, frequent violence, and moral ambiguity.
Don’t get me wrong -- I coo over babies and puppies, offer up my subway seat to those in need and never fail to mist up when watching the “You had me at hello” scene in Jerry McGuire. In other words, I’m a big softie.
But I’m attracted to dark-hearted tales like a sailor to a siren. I’ve pondered the reasons why, and I think I finally have an answer. It’s my parents fault.
Let me explain.
When I was about five, my mother decided it was time to provide me with some exposure to religion. Not that she was particularly devout, but she was raised in a family that went to church most Sundays, and derived some sense of community from doing so, and anyway, why the hell not?
So off I went to a preschool church group. I don’t remember what the program consisted of, but I assume it involved a few games, a couple of Bible stories, milk and cookies, and then the grand finale – an invitation to establish a personal relationship with Jesus.
What the church group didn’t know was that my father was a veterinarian. One who was justifiably proud of his skills, and not above a bit of grand-standing. Docking puppy tails in our garage, performing emergency suturing on our dining table, that sort of thing. As a result, even at that tender age I was no stranger to actual blood and guts in all their technicolor glory. So, when the unsuspecting church group leader asked if I was ready to “accept Jesus into your heart,” I took his meaning literally and freaked out. Big time. He had to call my mother to come pick me up. And I was not invited back.
During those formative years, my parents worked hard to make ends meet, and there wasn’t a lot of money for extras. When they wanted to splurge, they went to the movies. And because they couldn’t afford a babysitter, they took my older brother and me along. That’s how I ended up as a toddler watching The Godfather on the big screen, complete with its severed horse’s head and toll-booth machine gun rub-out of Sonny Corleone. (Side note: The Godfather remains one of my favorite movies today.) I also recall seeing MASH, The Poseidon Adventure, and a few other 70’s classics with rather high body counts.
I’m not saying my fondness for scary stories, noir and gore are entirely a result of this early introduction to gross anatomy and celluloid shocks – some folks naturally like kittens, while others prefer extraterrestrial creatures with acidic blood. But certainly, in my own writing, I reach back to those childhood influences for inspiration.
For example, has there ever been a scene more fraught with the anticipation of impending violence than the one in The Godfather where Michael Corleone sits down for dinner with Virgil “the Turk” Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey? Watch as the tension slowly, excruciatingly ratchets up to eleven, punctuated by Michael’s nervous eye-shifting and the jarring crescendo of an approaching subway train. Quentin Tarantino has based his entire film career on emulating that kind of cinematic brilliance. As a writer, I’d love nothing more than to put my audience on the edge of their seats the way that scene does to me.
Likewise, having a front row seat at live births, operations and autopsies (animal, not human) has given me an eye for detail when it comes to things such as medical procedures and the odor of various kinds of bodily fluids. What many people might find disgusting, or at least off-putting, was a common topic of conversation around our dinner table.
Fast forward many years and I have two children myself. When my kids were young, I carefully curated what they read and viewed. Nothing too violent or disturbing. They are in their teens now, so I let them make their own choices, but I still issue a verbal warning if they are about to enter the room when I’m watching zombies or a bloody shoot-out on TV. Thus far, neither of them have demonstrated the same love for the grotesque that I possess, but time will tell whether these preferences are a matter of nature or nurture.
In the meantime, my youthful experiences continue to inform my work. As a parent, I probably wouldn’t have considered taking my kids to see The Godfather. But as a storyteller, I appreciate having a deep well of visceral memories from which to draw. Without it, I’d probably be writing about stuff like dragons and iron thrones. And who needs more of that nonsense? (Kidding – I love you George R. R. Martin!)
Anyway, what I guess what I’m really trying to say is -- thanks mom and dad!
When U.S. Marshal Helen Morrissey is tasked with collecting a fugitive bank robber from a remote town in the Sierra Nevadas, she braces for a rough trip. After all, with a name like Kill Devil Falls, her destination must be a real hellhole.
Turns out that it’s worse than she imagined. Much worse. After barely surviving a white-knuckle drive in what she suspects is a sabotaged car, she’s stuck in a virtual ghost town populated by a handful of oddballs and outcasts. But it’s not until her prisoner turns up dead that Helen realizes she’s in real trouble. There are secrets buried below the surface of Kill Devil Falls. Secrets worth killing for.
Brian Klingborg works in the educational publishing field. He’s written books on Kung Fu, and he wrote for the Winx Club television series. Kill Devil Falls is his first novel. He lives in New York City. You can follow Brian on Twitter: @.