Talion began as a novella about a friendship between teenage girls from very different backgrounds. The story dragged, weighed down by exposition of the characters’ pasts and a present where the conflict arose from their general distrust of one another. Nothing was happening! I came to realize the plot needed a catalyst, a threat that would bring them together or destroy them.


So Conrad (Rad) Sanders entered the story, stalking them, watching them sunbathe at a old dam in the mountains, waiting his chance. The narrative was third person with multiple points of view, and I couldn’t avoid including Rad’s. But his character was so far outside my experience that I couldn’t get very far without doing research on sexual sadism and serial killers.


I didn’t have to look far for material. Serial killers had already been popularized in other fiction, most prominently Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs and his compelling  villain Hannibal Lector, whose powers verged on the supernatural.  It seemed Harris and every other creator of fictional serial killers drew material from the work of the FBI agents who had studied these criminals: Robert Ressler, John Douglas, Roy Hazelwood. These men had spent years tracking, interviewing, and analyzing serial killers. They had written books on the subject, both popular works and criminology texts. After reading these, I moved on to books by police detectives who had worked serial killer cases and books devoted to the crimes of particular notorious criminals: Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, the Zodiac killer, etc.


I came to the conclusion that serial killers are losers. Abused or neglected as children, driven by rage and inadequacy, they lack the capacity for empathy that makes love possible. Yet, like all monsters, they can be fascinating.


Before long, Rad began to take over my novel.



Some readers have asked me what Talion is supposed to be: a symptom of Lu’s psychosis? a supernatural being? an angel?

Talion and his cohorts are none of these things entirely. Lu’s senses tell her they exist, but others do not see or hear them. A psychitrist would not doubt label her psychotic. They are central to her world, like Rad’s fantasies. He feeds his fantasies and make them real through the torment and death of his victims.

What does Lu feed Talion to make him real?

Her love.

When he enters the story in first chapter, her first words to him are “I love you.” And because she loves Talion she does his bidding and so brings her fantasy into that narrow realm of existence we share with others and call reality. It’s like one of many frequencies on a radio, and for many people the only one that counts. For those readers who must make sense of Talion in reality, he and Black Claw and Delatar may be conceived as aspects of Lu’s Self. They are actors in her inner struggle for survival.

Whatever is he, Talion has the potential to betray Lu, just as Rad’s fantasy of absolute conquest of his victims has the potential to betray him.