The daughter of a local police detective, fifteen-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen.
But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects.
Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price.
I had an early peek at this one, and for those of you who are groovin’ on Michael Slade’s release of HEADHUNTER Reimagined, I’m thinking this might turn your crank.
Kelly Charron has written a YA novel with a serial killer for a protagonist. And recently I sat her down and subjected her to the patented kc dyer ‘5 Questions’ treatment. The conversation here is the result. I should note that there is some graphic content in the book [tho’ not in this interview!], and it’s aimed at teens 16 and older.
kc: PRETTY WICKED has a teen serial killer as a protagonist. What’s the response been from your audience?
Kelly C: I was super pumped but a tad nervous for the book’s release. My protagonist Ryann is a very unlikeable character. I’m always hearing writing advice that promotes making your protagonist likable so that the reader will want to go on the ride through the story with them. Also, the more the reader relates to and likes a character, the more they connect and root for them. When I wrote Pretty Wicked I hoped that the reader would be fascinated with being inside the villain’s twisted mind enough that they’d want to go along for the ride just to see what Ryann was going to do next. It seems to have worked. The majority of the reviews I’ve received so far discuss how they’ve ended up rooting for her and wanting her to succeed despite the horrible person she is and the horrific things she does. They still seem to be invested in her as a character and are intrigued with her because she is so unlike most other protagonists in popular YA fiction. I have had quite a few readers see that there is a sequel and mention that they can’t wait to read what crazy things Ryann will do next, which is very exciting for me! I’m so grateful people want more of her!
kc: How was the writing process for this story? Easy, tough, lots of research…? What stands out to you from the experience?
Kelly C: The bones of the story came to me almost fully realized. I wrote the first draft in 6 weeks, but then took quite a while to revise small details, the timeline and my character motivations. I needed to keep her character true and the fact is, a psychopath doesn’t need or have “normal” motivations for their actions and often have no motivations at all. I think I gave Ryann a good balance of when and why she does the things she does, keeping it fairly realistic in comparison to a true psychopath.
Overall it was quite easy to write PW compared to the other books I’ve written, though the sequel has been giving me grief. It’s coming along (slower than I’d like), but I’m very happy with the story. It will be a whole new and different way to see Ryann that I hope readers enjoy. I did do a heap of research from watching hours of murderous crime TV, prison documentaries, and documentaries on child/teen killers. I read a lot about psychiatric disorders with particular emphasis on sociopaths and psychopaths.
kc: Was it hard to get inside Ryann’s head, as both a teen and a generally unsympathetic character?
Writing the book was actually a lot of fun. Stepping so far out of myself and into Ryann’s mind was fascinating. It came to me surprisingly easy, which my friends and family laugh at. They joke that there must be something wrong with me to be able to slip on such a dark, gritty character with ease. I blame my love of horror. I’ve always been drawn to scary TV, movies, and books. I love to be frightened (fiction only) and have always been captivated with villains and their motivations, actions, and how their actions affect those around them.
I’m going over the second book in the series now and it’s just as stress-free to write her. It really is almost as though she is whispering her lines and thoughts in my ear. There is some dark humor (mostly from Ryann’s vantage point). She is definitely a disturbed character who does appalling things, but that’s why a lot of people love reading her. How many people dress up as their favorite villain for Halloween? It’s fun to be bad sometimes.
Writing teen characters hasn’t been a problem. I’ve worked with kids and teens for years. Being around them on a regular basis helps and it hasn’t been that long that I don’t remember exactly what it was like. Believe me, I do.
kc: Ryann’s dad is a police officer in the story, and I know your partner is also a police officer. Has that helped [or hindered?] your writing process?
Kelly C: He’s a good sport for helping me and also fielding the odd question from writer friends of mine who occasionally need to pick his brain. Obviously there are a lot of differences since he works in Canada and my series takes place in a fictional town in Colorado, but I get a good sense of the way things work from him and then research online from there.
kc: Tell us where we can find a copy of PRETTY WICKED. Is it possible to get a paperback version? What about a signed copy?
Kelly C: Right now the e-book is exclusively on Amazon, but the print version can be purchased online at any retailer like Chapters and Barnes & Noble. I do send out signed copies if people are interested in purchasing one. They can email me at email@example.com. They can also contact me through my website at http://kellycharron.com.
Thanks so much for this, Kelly. Good luck with Ryann and her sequel!
Thanks for chatting with me kc! It was fun.
And now, for a special treat, I’m going to give away an ebook copy of PRETTY WICKED to one lucky reader.
Answer the following skill-testing question in the comments or tweet your answer, hash-tagged with #PrettyWickedGiveaway by Friday, December 16, 2016, and your name will go in the draw!
Question: What is Kelly’s cat’s name?
The answer to this skill-testing question can be found on Kelly’s website!
Edited to add: It’s Friday night! And the winner of the free ebook is:
Susan, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll organize getting your copy of Pretty Wicked to you!
Thanks to all for playing along!