1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?
I’m Erin Banks, and for the main music project I do with musician friends, I go by About Rage. This only happened because we discovered there was already an Erin Banks on Spotify when we released the soundtrack to the novel About Rage.
I was born in Northern Germany and intermittently lived in the US, Sweden, Denmark and the UK over the past twenty years, as I’ve always loved to travel, learn foreign languages and about other cultures.
2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?
I just published my debut novel, About Rage, in late October, though it isn’t my first book. I wrote a non-fiction one on Ted Bundy, as I have blogged on CrimePiper about the case, as well as other True Crime cases, going on five years now.
About Rage is a psychological Horror Thriller centered around a ruthless female serial killer, Emily Sand, with a uniquely complex psychopathology. She shows symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, paired with other specified dissociative disorder, so similarly to Ted Bundy, she has sort of an “entity” that she calls the Rider, who is basically her externalized kill urge or alter ego. Emily soon realizes that someone has been watching her…or watching over her? That’s something she must find out, and for this she employs the help of a therapist. How she goes about this would be a little bit of a spoiler.
Going forth, Emily learns more about herself, including betrayals of her past and present, and she attempts to find out whether the people in her life she thinks of as friends are trustworthy or not, in order to face a seemingly omnipotent enemy.
The novel has twists and turns aplenty, and I’m overjoyed that readers reported to me they could not put the book down, finishing it within a day or two. This is exactly what I wanted to achieve, to “edutain” – to leave readers breathless and wanting for more, while still taking them on a journey into the mind of the killer to facilitate a better understanding of how trauma, loneliness and fantasy life spinning out of control very often plays a part in creating these violent offenders.
3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?
How Emily Sand came about is a bit of a convoluted story, but I’ll try to keep it short: In late 2017, I had tried to look for Horror and Thriller novels centered around a female serial killer who would be more than just a two-dimensional, Disneyesque villain to hate. I found one series that I enjoyed, but it didn’t go far enough for my taste. So I started penning disjointed chapters about a female serial killer, and in 2018, I learned about a (by now long disbanded) group on social media that was doing a “serial killer role playing game,” for which the admin would give us a setting and scene prompt and the members would finish that story. There had also been plans of co-writing a female serial killer story with someone else but ultimately, they didn’t come through. So I had gathered a lot of material I had to try and combine but didn’t have time to do so until last year.
As for Emily Sand’s strengths and weaknesses, that is a really great question, because at times, they appear interchangeable. She is a cautious and paranoid killer, thinking of anything and everything she would require in any scenario, and she is just as meticulous and obsessive-compulsive when disposing of bodies. She’s unfortunately not as cautious once she meets the man who’s been watching her for a while, and the prospects of what he offers her cast her whole world into disarray. My favorite strength of hers is her willingness to self-reflect, even though she’s not always a reliable narrator.
4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?
There were three that were all equally emotionally taxing. The one during which Emily reveals to the therapist what she suffered through as a child and how it impacted her. As someone who grew up with extreme abuse, it left me reeling a bit. Connected to it is a scene during which Emily learns how everything in her life is interwoven. The disillusionment, the sinisterness of it all was something I experienced on a very real level.
Lastly, there’s one scene in one of the last chapters that involves a betrayal not even I had seen coming. One of the characters just forced me into that direction, despite my outlining, and I knew I had to run with it, but it broke my heart for Emily.
5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?
I had originally intended to go the traditional route. Ultimately, I couldn’t relent control, or rather, the rights, of this story to anyone else. It’s too close to my heart, and I needed to be in the driver’s seat, even if it meant far less exposure.
6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?
This is probably something I shouldn’t admit, but one thing I learned is that no matter how much and often I edit, I’ll still find things after publishing that make me cringe. Part of it is that, as a non-native speaker, I’m extremely apprehensive about possible mistakes I could make, particularly in terms of punctuation. Being an indie writer without an editor, I am still happy that the second book proved to be a less straining experience than my first one, so I believe I have the capacity to further develop my craft.
7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
About Rage will have a follow-up, possibly more. It’s a vast universe inside me that just expanded over the years.
My first book, Ted Bundy: Examining The Unconfirmed Survivor Stories, will remain a standalone, though I may write another Bundy book on an unrelated topic in the future. I do already have the material and a general outline for it.
8. Who are some of your favourite authors, what are some of your favourite books, and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?
My favorite non-fiction author is Kevin M. Sullivan. I read his first two Ted Bundy books years before we became friends, and was immediately enmeshed with what a gifted storyteller he was. He is a true edutainer. Eventually, he asked me to write a chapter for his sixth book, The Enigma of Ted Bundy. I was shocked that my favorite author would ask me if I wanted to collaborate. Me! I look up to Sondra London as well. She’s completely in control of every word, every sentence she produces, and has a very elegant writing style I truly enjoy.
My favorite fiction author is Josephine Angelini. I love her world building and character development, particularly for the Worldwalker trilogy, and her standalone What She Found in the Woods. My favorite book will always be Jane Eyre, though; the ultimate coming-of-age story about independence, self-respect, self-mastery, and how all of this could be balanced and expressed in a romantic relationship setting.
9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?
I so suck at this stuff. Probably social media. It’s very difficult for me to network because human interaction leaves me extremely drained due to always having to mask. I’m autistic. Plus, it’s always been a bit awkward for me to clap for myself in public, but I want to be read, so that’s what it takes.
10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?
I don’t think any trope or cliché has to be bad, necessarily. I’ve read books that played with tropes, and just when you thought you knew where the story was headed, you were thrown for a loop, because the author had just used cleverly it as a set-up.
As for writing styles, be it narrative, descriptive, expository or persuasive, I enjoy them all, though expository is a bit tricky because it can get dull quick, so it takes a very skilled writer to do this in a way that’s still engaging and keeps my attention.
One thing that drives me nuts is clipped sentences and a lack of paraphrasing.
11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?
I’ve received some great bad reviews because the person shared in-depth what their expectations had been and why my book did not deliver, in their view. Some of these readers’ suggestions stayed with me. For instance, in my first book, the last chapter was supposed to be the big bombshell, but it was advised this would have made for a better first chapter. I found the reasoning for that very interesting and could see their point, so I am always grateful for honest feedback, if presented in a reasonable manner.
I think the most important thing to remember is always that even Stephen King has one star reviews. It’s inevitable and nothing personal, though especially as it pertains to fiction, it can feel almost like a personal rejection, since you pour your heart and soul into these stories, the world-building and characters that you love like family (or at least I do.) But negative reviews definitely help curb the ego a bit.
On the other hand, I’ve had very persistent stalkers in the last three years, centered around a disgruntled ex and his associate. These people have chased me across every platform to leave character assassination reviews, partly even in the name of my dead father. Fortunately those were removed when I contacted the website owners.
12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?
Well, the way this happens with me is usually that either a fully formed story or scene will pop into my head. I really just watch it play out as though it were a movie, jot down what I see, then try to fill in the blanks. This is when I will start outlining things, though never in too much detail, as I learned that the story and characters really do have their own lives.
I can’t write without music, and that is probably also one of my biggest writing quirks. Music puts me in an altered state, almost a meditative one, and I need that to summon the feelings I want to ban onto paper. When I wrote About Rage, I mostly listened to a combination of atmospheric, dark and desperate songs for the interpersonal scenes as well as brutal bass Dubstep and Metal for the action-laden passages. And then, as Peter Douglas, Mirko Swo and I put together the songs for the soundtrack, I would listen to those tracks, too.
13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?
I see a lot of advice by other writers being presented as ironclad rules, and it can sometimes come across as a bit restrictive, if not even arrogant. I don’t subscribe to the notion that one ought to push themselves to write every day to be a “real writer.” There’s so much implied stress and worry in that notion. The majority of my writer friends struggle with mental health in some form, and with my condition, I sometimes require periods of rest, during which I’ll focus and work on other things related to the book instead. If I push myself, I’ll have a major meltdown or shutdown, and I have observed similar things happening with author friends. I’m not a fan of working yourself sick.
General advice I would offer is to perhaps try and make time to read, because you may enjoy broadening your horizon, add to your vocabulary, play around with different ideas that others’ stories may prompt.
14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?
My main project is writing About Revenge, along with the second soundtrack. On the side, I am working on the Murderous (True Crime-related) album franchise with the band Dead Possum, for which I write half of the lyrics and read the intros and outros in different languages, such as Urdu, Japanese, Ukrainian, Spanish, Swedish, German and various others. I am also in the process of putting together a hybrid-genre short story collection, and I’ll be featured in two other True Crime authors’ books that are to be published next year.
15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:
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