I’m in the middle of a tour of the East Coast of the States as I write this, and I’ve been reminded once again of how deliciously, dementedly easy it would be to combine my day job with that of a serial killer!
When on a book tour, I’m ghosted around the country by my publishers from city to city, state to state. I rarely stay in the same location for more than two or three nights, often just a single night. Nobody questions my travel arrangements — I have a perfectly legitimate reason to be on the road and to flit around the place. And who would ever suspect a respectable author of being in any way suspicious, especially one who writes children’s books?!?
If I was of a certain bent, the USA — indeed, the world, given that I travel globally every year to promote my books — would be my twisted oyster. I could fly in, check into the nice hotel which my publisher puts me up in every time, unpack, have a shower, brush my teeth, go do my event, entertain my fans, shakes hands, pose for photos, sign lots of books, put a pile of good cheer out there into the world.
Then back to the hotel for a little rest. Wait for the sun to set. Go for a walk or to see a movie — traveling authors always need a few hours out of their hotel room every night, to unwind and relax and prepare themselves for the next day’s travel and work.
The lovely thing about cities in the States — is one was of a certain bent — is that they’re packed with scores of dark, dangerous alleys. Many places to lurk while out walking or en route to a fictitious cinema. Weapons would never be a problem, not in the land of the Free. Hell, if the worst came to the worst, every writer travels with one or two sharp pens…
A calming wait in the dark. The approach of footsteps. Watching. Breathing softly. Letting prey pass. Waiting. Choosing. Striking when the time is right — when the time is write. Moving away swiftly. Back to the hotel. Another shower. To bed, perchance to dream. Smiling as you drift off to sleep.
Another city in the morning. Away forever from the scene of the crime. Nothing to link you to the area of the victim. A mental notch on your typewriter the only clue. A new town. A new hotel. More fans. More signings. More opportunities in the dark.
If, of course, one was of a certain bent.
Here’s a little challenge for those of you of an inquisitive nature, those who like games, those who fancy themselves as something of a detective. Study the movements of your favorite author. Map out their most recent tour. Then do some research. Look among the records for unsolved murders and mysterious disappearances in the areas where they have traveled, at the times when they have traveled. Search for matches. And answer this question — but only for yourself, just for fun, after all you don’t wish to inconvenience your favorite author by pointing out any odd coincidences to those of a less imaginative nature than yourself:
Is there a pattern?
Happy hunting, book fans. And see you soon on tour.
Darren Shan is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels have sold over 15 million copies worldwide. Darren is currently working on c, the much-anticipated prequel series to Cirque Du Freak. Birth of a Killer, the first book in this quartet about the master vampire, is now available. Darren lives in Ireland, where he writes and collects art, comics, and film. Learn more at http://www.darrenshan.com.