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I'm a business journalist and a fiction author. My novel Mute is available now from Silver Leaf Books.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My radio interview: What drives teenagers to murder?

Cyrus Webb interviewed me for his ConversationsLIVE show on Blog Talk Radio this week. After reading my novel Famous After Death and writing a glowing review of the book, he asked me in-depth questions where the story came from.



Here’s a sample of what went down on the air:

When did you first have the seed planted that this was a book that you wanted to write?

I started working on it in 2010. I had the initial idea that I wanted to write about teenagers who were putting their crimes on the internet to get attention for it. I knew this was beginning to happen and I wanted to understand. These were teenagers who were smart enough to do it anonymously. And real life sort of beat be to the punch. You had a freshman at Rutgers jump to his death after his roommate filmed him making out with another man and his roommate put it on his Facebook page to bully him. There was a column by Leonard Pitts in the Miami Herald who wrote about how people are using the internet to bully people and to trash them here and the internet can bring out the ugliness with us. And that stuck with me. That was the point of my novel to show how people are using social media in the wrong way.

There was something that I was not expecting that came up in this book and that was the family element. Did you know going in that you wanted to make these young people more than just savage, that you wanted to show us the human side of them by letting us see their family?

I felt it was important to understand all of them got into a situation where they were juvenile delinquents, where they wanted to play pranks on people online, not really caring if the people got hurt. This doesn’t happen randomly. There’s a reason. The lead character Jorge, he’s very much a loner. He’s trying to make friends. He wears big black trench coats in Miami and doesn’t fit in. His mother is sort of OCD and so he is trying to get attention from the other boys. He wants to use his intelligence only to act like he’s cool and fit in.

Kelso is from a wealthy family where his dad is a motocross star and his younger brother is really the big guy in the family because he’s a great skater. He’s a better skater than Kelso. His brother always finishes first and Kelso is finishes distance. So he’s trying to show that he’s the man, that he can get a lot of hits from his videos. He feels like he’s passed over for his brother.

And Chris, who acts in a mean way toward everybody, he’s from a broken home where his father left his mother and started a modeling agency, and he’s with all the models. So he’s feels that angry inside that his family was broken and he’s angry at both parents and wants to take it out on everyone else.


Go here to listen to the full interview with Cyrus Webb.

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