We are the total of our existence at this moment. We won’t be the same person with the next experience we have because we learn from it. It colors how we see our world even when we don’t realize it. Any interaction does this. Try to or try not to, that experience has effected us in some way.
How does that relate to my imagination? I worked with the Criminally Insane. Yes, Silence of the Lamb’s Criminally Insane. You have not lived until you realize that you were playing cards with one murder, a child molester and guy who held an entire Wal-Mart hostage (because some fool clerk gave him the gun and a box of ammo to look at) just like you were playing cards with the neighbors on a boring Sunday afternoon.
Can you picture the inside of my imagination? I’m sure you can’t unless you work at the same kind of job. My inmates even scared cops. They couldn’t get over I didn’t have a gun or “some sort of something” to defend myself.
That nice young college man over there? The one reading one of the modern philosophers? Stabbed his mother 47 times. The chubby girl in her early 20s who looks like a clerk at McDonald’s? Drowned her nine-month old and her two-year old kids in the bathtub. The tall thin woman who looks like a head mistress on her way to work? She cut off her own breast and then tried to kill her mother. That extremely handsome man who was a grade school teacher, church deacon, cub scout leader and sunday school teacher who has a beautiful fiancée visiting him today? He’s a child molester. He abused his own nephews that he admits to and who knows how many more.
My serial killer I pulled out of Standing Stone caused me to rewrite the plot. He would give Hannibal the Cannibal nightmares. Why did I pull him out of the book if he’s so good and so fully formed? He wasn’t sharing that book. He gets his own. I have created a solid well rounded fully formed monster who has a strong voice and a stronger personality. I can’t write him as I want him to fit. He writes his own story. And as Stephen Cannell says, the minute you get dishonest in the story, you run into problems. Writing him the way I want, not the way he is, is dishonest.
One of my friends who is a psychologist and I were talking about this. As she said, it’s no wonder considering where you worked and what you have experienced. The criminals I create are based on my large database of experience.
Do you really want me to walk into a coffee shop and start imagining?