Prior to planning and writing part one of SHADOW WATCHER, I fell down an internet hole which saw me read countless articles and watch a few documentaries about the infamous “Zodiac Killer” who tormented the San Francisco Bay Area through the 1960s and 1970s.
Even though these heinous crimes were committed over fifty years ago, there is still a ripe fascination with the murders that occurred, the person who committed them and the actions of the perpetrator before, during and after the murders.
So, what was it about the Zodiac Killings that fascinated me; and still fascinates people to this very day?
Let’s begin with possibly the most chilling and terrifying aspect first: the perpetrator of these murders was never caught or identified. The Zodiac Killer wrote letters to the newspapers and the police with ciphers that the police/newspaper was required to solve. If the ciphers were solved, then the Zodiac’s identity would be unmasked. Unfortunately, the only cipher to be solved (by a teacher and his wife) was not the one that held the Zodiac’s identity.
Now, back in those days, DNA testing was nowhere near as advanced as it is in this day and age. Anyway, aside from the DNA aspect, I was very concerned but also very fascinated by this: the fact that a killer can write letters to the police and to newspapers, bragging and pretty much admitting to the horrific murders, and not be caught.
I took my fascination with this case (I would not call it inspiration), and thought to myself: what if there was a criminal/killer like the Zodiac in this day and age – brazen, calculating, loves taunting the police. I pondered over this for a while; and then while I was in the car, came up with the name Shadow Watcher and a loose concept of a story.
Once I found that the story/idea wasn’t going to leave my brain, I decided that it was time to start to plan and write the story.
It is very much like a game of cat and mouse between Sly and Hokey and Shadow Watcher. Shadow Watcher lurks in the background, waiting for the right time to pounce; and when he does pounce – he pounces. His crimes are probably the most violent, psychotically driven and gruesome crimes I have written about so far. It is kind of a domino effect for Shadow Watcher – once he kills one person, he feels like he must kill another. And then when he starts building confidence in himself (which is based solely on the fact that he hasn’t been caught…yet), he starts to get bolder by sending letters to, and calling Sly and Hokey to taunt them; to get under their skin.
I made the decision to release Shadow Watcher in separate parts because there is so much happening that it could be too overwhelming if it was all compounded into one big novel. I feel that in doing this, it also gives the story more of a “real” element as some criminals disappear to let things settle, and then come back with vengeance.
I don’t want to give away too much because I have a feeling with Shadow Watcher, there is going to be plenty more to uncover and explore.
I am very keen on doing a stand-alone story written from Shadow Watcher’s perspective, but we will see what happens.