Welcome to this week’s installment of The Scariest Part, a recurring feature in which authors, comic book writers, filmmakers, and game creators tell us what scares them in their latest works of horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense. (If you’d like to be featured on The Scariest Part, please review the guidelines here.)
My guest is Lincoln Crisler, whose debut novel is Skinjumper. Here is the publisher’s description:
MURDER IS ONLY SKIN DEEP.
Rose Bennett, a young, recently-widowed mother, comes face to face with a newly-minted murderer and learns that there are much scarier things than raising a child alone in an unfamiliar town. Terry Miller has discovered three things in a very short amount of time: his high school sweetheart’s been cheating on him with his father, killing is fun, and if he does it just right, he can switch bodies with his victims.
And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Lincoln Crisler:
One of the scariest parts in my first full-length novel, Skinjumper, doesn’t involve the main protagonist of the story — a single-mother working in a restaurant who discovers a brutal killer in her newly-adopted hometown. It doesn’t involve the killer’s unexplainable ability to “jump” his consciousness into the “skin” of his victims, either. The small bit of the supernatural I worked into the book does make for some interesting storytelling, at least according to the feedback I’ve received, but let’s be honest — that’s never going to really happen to someone. And after the first round of dead bodies she discovers, Rose, our heroine, is more or less on red alert for the better part of the novel.
There’s a part in the book, it happens about halfway through, that I think is far more terrifying simply because it’s the sort of thing that happens all the time. There’s a dishwasher outside a club our killer is stalking. He steps out into the rear parking lot to have a cigarette. The hairs are probably bristling on his bare arms in the cool air, still damp with wash water. Most likely, he’s taking a couple breaths of awesome fresh air, because the back end of any eating establishment is pretty damn rank.
There’s a stranger leaned up against a wall in our dishwasher’s usual smoking area, and our pal sidles up to the new guy and sparks up. He doesn’t seem to resent the intrusion. He might even welcome a few minutes of banter with someone not bringing him more crap to do. He certainly doesn’t expect to be murdered in cold blood and dragged behind a dumpster. There’s no way he figures his life will end just because a guy who’s killed a few people in fits of rage over the past few days simply wants to try his hand at the premeditated variety of murder.
Sure, the thought of your mind being invaded by the foul, psychic presence of a sociopath is a chilling prospect. So is getting your life’s blood sucked by a vampire. So is being eaten by zombies. But my book isn’t even the genre’s most recent example of how terrible humans can be to each other without otherworldly intervention — take a look at last week’s Walking Dead mid-season finale, for instance!
But of course, you can expect more than just the death of an innocent dishwasher between the pages of Skinjumper. You can check it out at the links below and enjoy a healthy body count, achieved through means both magical and mundane.
Lincoln Crisler’s body of work consists of over thirty short stories, two novellas and editorship of two anthologies, most recently Corrupts Absolutely?, an anthology of dark superhero fiction. His work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, to include HUB Magazine, Shroud Publishing’s Abominations anthology and IDW’s Zombies vs. Robots anthology. His debut novel, first novel-length short story collection and third anthology as editor are all scheduled for publication in 2014. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association. A United States Army combat veteran and non-commissioned officer, Lincoln lives in Augusta, Georgia with his wife and two of his three children. He enjoys music, cooking, web design and comic books. Lincoln and his wife own a virtual assistant business, Crisler Professional Services. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.