Author Chelsea Cain shares what it was like to write her newest thriller The Night Season without her popular character, serial killer Gretchen Lowell. Instead, the story focuses on Detective Archie Sheridan and journalist Susan Ward. Cain explains why she kept Gretchen out of the action and if readers will ever see this glamorous serial killer again!
When I was a kid, I never imagined that I would grow up to have a serial killer, but life can be surprising. I do have a serial killer. Her name is Gretchen Lowell, and she is the antagonist and obsession bait of Det. Archie Sheridan, the hero of my thriller series. I actually refer to her as this – “my serial killer.” And very smart people ask me questions about her, and refer to her as “your serial killer,” so she must be mine, right? And I love her. I do. She is deadly, beautiful, witty, and a hellcat with a razor blade. So why did I choose to leave her mainly off-stage in my fourth thriller, The Night Season?
Here’s the secret. It’s hard to write a series. You’re always trying to reinvent the wheel, and evolve characters, without ruining what people like in the first place. So my intention was to write a book that would allow my main protagonists, Archie Sheridan and journalist Susan Ward, to own a bit of the limelight. Also, I don’t want you guys to get tired of Gretchen. I didn’t want her breaking out of jail in every book. Like Jaws, she’s scarier when you don’t see her coming. And, if I am honest, I wanted to write a book that was a page-turner, but with a little less stabbing (for the folks who are too lily livered to read the first three). And you can’t have Gretchen without the stabbing. She does do a lot of stabbing. A lot, a lot.
So, think of The Night Season as one of those episodes of The X-Files where Mulder and Scully find themselves fighting monster hillbillies. It’s a little different than the others, but still loads of fun (maybe even more fun), and you get to see the characters doing stuff they don’t usually do, like drowning and fight octopuses.
And for Gretchen fans, I assure you, my serial killer will be back. I’m working on book five now, and she is all over it. But you have to read book four first. Or you’ll never understand Susan’s sudden fear of cephalopods.
- Chelsea Cain
You can check out Chelsea Cain's mold-breaking new series installment, The Night Season, on shelves now!