Life After Dane is the story of a particularly nasty serial killer dubbed The Rest Stop Dentist. Told from the voice of his mother, the novel vividly depicts not only Dane's atrocious acts, but also the harrowing abuse that he suffered as a child. Smoothly interspersed with the fast-paced storyline are short chapters that flash back to Dane's mother's recollections of his early years.
As with his previous books, Edward Lorn demonstrates his gift of vivid writing along with a mastery at keeping the reader on edge. With some clever plot twists thrown in, and an unforgettable climax, Life After Dane is another recommended read for lovers of high-stakes thrillers.
Today we have the pleasure of interviewing author Edward Lorn. Read on!
Congratulations on your new novel. In a few words, how would you describe your book to someone who hasn't heard about it?
Ella May Peters’s son, Dane, was better known to the world as the Rest Stop Dentist, a serial killer responsible for forty-two deaths which stretched over nine states. After she witnesses Dane’s execution by lethal injection, she returns home to try and rebuild her life. Things get weird when her dead son starts making appearances. Is she crazy, or has Dane actually returned to haunt her? You’ll have to read to find out.
"Life After Dane" is told from the mother's perspective. The defensiveness she feels about her son, and her guilt about not stopping the childhood abuse he suffered, really rings true. What techniques did you as an author use to capture a mother's voice so effectively?
Even though I’m not a mother, I am a parent. I know with the utmost certainty that no matter what my children do, I will always love them. I took all that into consideration while writing the novel. How would I feel if one of my kids became a serial killer? Moreover, how would it affect me to watch them caught, tried, and executed for their crimes? Whether they deserved it or not, I believe it would devastate me. Anger, disappointment, frustration, and the need to know where I went wrong would all overcome me.
But that’s only part of it. I was raised by women. I had an inattentive father who cared more about his recliner and what baseball game was on than he did about his only son. While my mother was at work (mostly twelve and sixteen hour shifts for a great deal of my childhood), my sisters stepped in to help raise me. Being twelve and fourteen years older than me, they were old enough to do so. I don’t proclaim to know everything about being a woman, but I have been around them more than I have men. Lastly, I’ve screwed up plenty in my life, but my mother has always been there for me. She doesn’t always agree with my choices, but she never loves me any less.
As I read the book, I found myself longing for redemption - for Dane as well as his mother. Your story holds out a glimmer of that hope as the book moves from one devastating scene to the next - but you cleverly hold back on giving the reader easy answers. Can you comment on why we readers take fascination with the darkness that dwells inside some people?
Because our different shades make us real. None of us are black and white, cut and dried, good or evil. Mostly, we’re jumbled up rainbows with grayish lines segmenting the colors. We’re complex personalities, and we’ve have all had bad thoughts. We may not feel good about having them, but they’re there, just below the surface where the wild things hide. Not a lot of people will admit to having fantasies of ending someone’s life, but most of us have considered the consequences of strangling the jerk that cut us off in traffic or stole our parking space at Wally World.
The difference lies in something I like to call the Light Switch Theory. Some have a fully functioning light switch, and they’re bright and happy because of it. Others play with their switch, trying to find that perfect spot in the middle, right between light and dark. Then you have people who just plain love the dark and dwell there in obsidian bliss. And lastly, you have those whose light switches are broken; the wires are frayed and fizzling, and they might just have lampshades made of human skin in their basements.
Being careful to avoid spoilers... the Doc Morrow scene, the harrowing climax, and the astonishing final twist really threw us for a loop. Did you envision those scenes early on, or did they evolve during the writing process?
I had an inkling where the book would end, but those scenes you mentioned surprised me just as much as they did you. Life After Dane was one of those books that is easy to write, a story that exists long before the author comes along, and all I had to do was dictate Ella May Peter’s tale. I don’t think the book would have had quite the same impact had I tried to plot it out. It was dying to get out, and I wasn’t about to stop it.
This horror thriller is also the story of a very broken family. It raises the question: Can one truly escape one's childhood past? Comment, please!
That’s all up to the person in question. Some of us rise above our pasts to become our own people, whereas others let their bad memories fester and infect. I had a pretty good childhood, not knowing at the time what kind of damage my father was inflicting. Children need support; they need to be told they’ve done a good job or that they’ve made mistakes. Nurturing and comfort goes a long way to building decent human beings, just as inactivity and brutish behaviors can create real life monsters.
As we've followed your career, the volume of good writing that you produce impresses us. What is your secret to staying motivated to write?
I simply write. I produce more garbage than New York City and Los Angeles combined, but, every now and then, I find a gem worth polishing and showing off. I think my main motivation actually comes from my father. He gave up on life long before I was born. You could see it in his eyes, that dull, cow-eyed stare he had, the way you could almost look through him, as if his eyes were as solid as mist. When I was finally old enough to realize that he’d abandoned all his hopes and dreams and planned to make sure I did the same, I was determined to do the exact opposite. So I write. And I write a lot, because to not write would be to give up, and I don’t have that option. Plus, you guys need more stories to read. Am I right?
That is definitely true! Let's talk about technique. Authors get asked the "Pantser or Plotter" question about as often as politicians get asked about "Boxers or Briefs." Despite that, we have to ask the Ubiquitous Author Question: Pantser or Plotter? (And we'll leave the undergarment question for the politicians.)
To me, plotting is boring. I want to know the twist when the reader does, because, at the end of the day, I am a reader. I’ve always felt that if I know what’s coming next, my reader will as well. But, like everything else, this is subjective. Some people prefer to put a puzzle together with the aid of the box art, while others like the challenge of working without the lid. Both ways can be fun, I suppose, but I like diving in head first without previous knowledge of the big picture.
How long did it take you to write the novel? Do you work on one novel at a time or do you multi-task the writing?
Ten consecutive days with a day-long break in the middle. So, nine days of actual writing. Like I said before, this one was dying to get out.
Wow - that's intense. I know from following you on Facebook that you're a voracious reader. What book(s) are you reading right now?
Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin. I tried reading it before watching the series, but I just couldn’t do it. Don’t ask me to put a finger on why, I just couldn’t. Now that I have the world and its characters set firmly in my skull, I’m actually enjoying the books. I can hear readers out there balking, but it’s the truth.
Your cover is really eye-catching. Can you share a bit about how the cover was developed?
In the beginning, I wanted something completely different, but luckily, Lynn McNamee, the owner of Red Adept Publishing, had a better idea. My concept was to have the cover based on grown-up Dane, the serial killer, with some bloody teeth and other disturbing images on display. In the end, it was far too busy and didn’t speak to the theme of the book.
Life After Dane is not really about Dane Peters the serial killer, but about how Dane became a monster. Lynn came up with the idea of having a child with a grown man’s shadow coming off him for the cover. And what can I say? It fit perfectly.
Sometimes, we authors haven’t the foggiest idea what’s best for our book until someone shows us other possibilities. I’m not saying we should blindly agree to other people’s wishes, but we should remain open-minded and consider the options. I am very happy with the end product.
You've released your books through a small publishing house. Tell us about that experience and what it has meant for your books.
I’m not an outgoing personality. I don’t have many acquaintances and even fewer friends. This isn’t a sad thing, only the way I prefer it. I guess you’d call me an introvert. Because of this, I don’t have many outlets or contacts to promote my work. As an indie, I relied solely on word of mouth, which is all well and good, unless your circles only holds twenty or so people willing to help spread the news. Red Adept Publishing opened up several venues that I didn’t (or couldn’t) have found any other way. Some because the hosts didn’t work with indies and others because I just didn’t have the social or professional skills to approach. This is just me, mind you. I know full and well there are several indie authors doing exceedingly well. I just wasn’t one of them.
What one piece of advice would you give to other writers or would-be writers?
Tell your stories the only way you can—in your own voice. Mimicry is the failure of self. Even if you do succeed at emulating someone else, you will still be nothing more than a carbon copy.
Thanks for talking with us. We're pleased to feature your book on KBoards!
Thanks for having me.
Life After Dane is available now to download to your Kindle! And be sure to check out the blog tour celebrating the book's release - for interviews, reviews, and a chance to win SWAG from the book's publisher, Red Adept Publishing.
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