For much of my writing career, serial killers have been a feature of the mystery/thriller genre. Many authors and audiences seem to enjoy these human predators on the hunt; this writer? Not so much, and that is odd, given that for many years I lived with one or more enthusiastic, indiscriminate, and crafty serial killers.
With “The Fitz” I gave them their due and created my one and only serial killer plot. It is also one of my few stories with a clear and definite origin. Normally, stories are one of the gifts of the gods, mysterious ideas that appear out of the Muse’s good pleasure or the deep subconscious. Not so “The Fitz,” although it was a long time between the first glimmer of an idea and the finished manuscript.
I can credit the first little inspiration to a black, tuxedo, short-hair cat, Marcel, our son’s once stray pet in Chicago. Marcel was a hunter par excellence, and such was his reputation that periodically Jamie would drive him down to an Irish pub that featured the EPL (English Premier League soccer) on the bar television. While Jamie and the publican had breakfast, Marcel would sweep the basement, periodically emerging to display another little rodent corpse. I used to joke that they should offer an organic pest control service.
This appealing idea, however, refused to take immediate literary form. Besides my usual difficulty coming up with a sound plot, I suspect I needed just the right cat. Marcel was for real mice; what I needed was a literary feline, and I eventually found him at our vet’s, a familiar locale during the many years we had cats. Outdoor country cats need a bevy of shots, they need stitching up after fights with other cats, raccoons and possums and carnivores unknown, they pick up parasites and worms and require routine maintenance.
Our vet genuinely loved animals. She had horses in the pasture outside, photos of her dogs on the walls, a budgie in a cage high above the floor, and a flock of cats, all loose, curious, and active, roaming the waiting area. One of those was Oreo, a black and white domestic long hair with blue eyes, an insolent stare and a lordly manner. I admired him enough to do a little sketch of him for a greeting card, and, in the fullness of time, he acquired a new name, The Fitz, and a complete personality: smart, lazy, pleasure loving and friendly. He was perfect for an organic pest control outfit.
All he needed was a plot. And some useful humans and a venue. These came in reverse order. 2 K Organic Pest Control came with two cash-strapped college friends, who rightly, I think, saw a plushy suburb as the ideal market. The area suggested a plot about money, that useful root of all evil and generator of plot ideas and nefarious schemes. And there it was: “The Fitz” with not one but several serial killers as promised.
Janice Law’s The Falling Men, a novel with strong mystery elements, has been issued as an ebook on Amazon Kindle. Also on kindle: The Complete Madame Selina Stories.
The Man Who Met the Elf Queen with two other fanciful short stories and 4 illustrations and The Dictator’s Double, 3 short mysteries and 4 illustrations, are available from Apple Books.
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