Normal by Graeme Cameron is by far one of the best books I have read this year and I was lucky enough to ask the author a few questions for this blog tour – here is what he had to tell me.
Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this character?
A radio interview with a criminal profiler, back when I was young and thought I wanted to write pulp detective novels. It set me off reading everything I could find about serial killers, and I knew for years I wanted to write about one, but I was also aware I didn’t really want to write a whodunnit or a forensic procedural or a slasher story. In the end, Normal happened entirely by accident, as a result of an exercise in writing a gruesomely gleeful first-hand account of a terrible crime in an effort at eliminating ideas that couldn’t possibly work!
Do you base your characters on people you have met in real life, and did you in this case (minus the killing aspect I assume!) ?
It’s hard not to pick up on people’s character traits and ways of presenting themselves and store them for future use, but there’s no one character that’s directly based on a real person. Although there might be one or two names in there that didn’t get changed to protect the innocent (no, I won’t tell you which ones)!
How much of the plot was planned as opposed to how it changed when the character came to life?
I hate to say it, but the book was a quarter done before there even was a plan! The only thing that really changed from that point on was the ending, which I originally conceived as a big overblown set-piece that didn’t fit the characters or the tone of the story as a whole and therefore fell by the wayside.
The relationship between Erica and our unnamed protagonist is one of the highlights. Was it fun to write?
Their relationship is the core of the story for me, and in a way yes, it was fun to write as the dynamic between the two of them changed and things became increasingly charged. But it also proved a valuable learning experience, because beneath the literal reading of that story are a number of truths about relationships in general that I’d never examined before, and that a good number of people who read Normal are living with every day. So in that respect, I’d say it was more illuminating than fun.
Do you have any writing habits /superstitions?
My biggest and worst writing habit is stopping to check my Twitter.
One book you recommend to everyone.
Jar Baby by Hayley Webster.
3 People living or dead you would like to invite to a Dinner party?
Burt Reynolds, Bob Monkhouse, and my dad. Just to be absolutely sure.
Thank you Graeme!
Publication Date: 9th April 2015 from Mira (Harlequin UK)
He is the man who lives on your street. The one you see in the supermarket and nod hello to. He’s also a serial killer. Killing is what he’s good at. And you’ll want him to get away with MURDER….
Right. So where to start. First of all for me, this was one of those books that grips you so utterly that you practically live in it. In fact I probably have lived in it for the last couple of days even whilst doing the usual life type things like picking up the kids from school…hang on, wait, where are my kids? I’ll be back….
Seriously though, this was a marvel of a twisted tale, so addictive that a warning sticker on the front of the book would not go amiss, most horrifically fascinating and with at least two characters I will never ever forget. And I don’t even know the name of one of them.
Told from the point of view of the killer, a man who has few if any boundaries and yet is strangely in tune with his own lack of normality, you never know his name, hardly find out anything about his background and have no clue what he looks like. Yet you will get to know him well and quite possibly hope that he gets away with murder.
When I started this story I was wondering how he had managed to evade capture for so long, wanting the police to nab him and giving due consideration to how they might do that. By halfway through I was totally committed to every evil act he was involved with and by the time I was heading towards the end I was sitting on the edge of the seat PRAYING that he would get away with all of it. Yes I’m aware that this is wrong on SO many levels but Graeme Cameron has created an anti-hero so beautifully drawn and cleverly constructed that I simply could not help myself.
You can’t even really justify it by his choice of victims – I mean we all love Dexter because he may be a serial killer but the people he kills are hardly worth the effort it takes to feel sorry for them. Mr Cameron’s serial killer is almost the anti-Dexter, his victims are innocents for the most part, certainly not deserving of their fate. And yet…somehow through sheer force of a personality that creeps up on you, you gloss over all that and become complicit in his life.
Then we have Erica. Who I’m not really going to talk about beyond saying that I adored her with a fiery passion that only comes once in a while, you’ll have to meet her for yourself. Added to that there are a plethora of other people crossing the path of our unnamed unknoweable everyman, all seen through his eyes they take on a life all of their own. I had a soft spot for one or two of them, would not have been sorry to see at least one served up to our killer’s appetites, but every one adds to the whole and makes it a simple yet brilliant twist on an often done genre.
I am aware that this will probably divide opinion and not everyone will react the same way – certainly if this was on television you would more than likely see the odd “glorifying violence” attitude towards it that happened with “The Fall”. Whilst both The Fall and Dexter are useful tools to try and explain whether or not you may like this book, do not think for one moment that “Normal” is anything at all like them. It is entirely its own thing, unique and terribly intelligent whilst also being a stonking good read. For me this has immediately gone onto my list of favourite books ever, simply because of my ongoing reactions and emotions to the events within the pages. And that ending. Boy oh boy! Loved it. Start to finish.
Eminently readable, more delicious than chocolate, elegantly imagined and utterly utterly captivating – I dare you to read this and hold the moral high ground.
Find out more here: http://www.graeme-cameron.com/
Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/GNCameron
Order information: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/graeme+cameron/normal/11458741/
Great post Liz! Makes me even more keen to get to Normal – seems everyone loves it!