Book available at Eternal Press
Release Date: April 2008
Page Count: 111
Price: $5.95 U.S.
Bill Cristo takes up walking a per his doctor’s orders to lose weight and improve his health. While at the metro park, he witnesses an assault. The assailant turns on him and he wakes in the hospital with a nasty bump on his head, wondering why he isn’t dead.
The news reports nothing on any attack in the metro park but Bill can’t let it go...not when he realizes there are other young men missing from the same area. He digs up what he can on his own, drawing further attention from the murderer. Will he be able to figure out who the killer is before it reaches his live-in girlfriend?
“Shhh. Please listen.” Her words dropped to a trembling whisper.
Bill hesitated a moment, thinking she might go on.
“Bill?” She sounded so small and vulnerable. He immediately wanted to reach out through the phone and pull her close. He longed to make whatever it was better.
“I’m here, Hon. What’s going on?” He shut down his computer as he talked.
“Someone keeps calling me.” Once she started speaking, her words came fast and clipped. “At first he kept hanging up. No heavy breathing or anything so I decided it must be those kids next door.”
“He? How do you know it’s a guy?” Bill used one hand to hold the phone and the other to begin stuffing his things into his carry bag.
“Because…” Dampened, low sounds came over the phone.
Oh God, she’s crying.
“Because I know what a man's voice sounds like. This last time, just a minute ago, he said I’m next.”
“Next for what?” As Bill said the words, he’d already guessed the answer. All the clues were in place, the footprints on the porch, the maniac figuring out Bill knew about him, and now the calls to Dix. He didn’t hear her answer.
Kim Richards lives in Northern California; with wedding plans for May 2009. She writes horror, fantasy, erotica and science fiction, as well as non-fiction chapters and articles. She has seen one children’s story published and Death Masks is her first thriller. For more information on all of her published works, check out her website at www.kim-richards.com
Kim is an avid costumer and amateur bellydancer. She loves her coffee. She works as an editor for MyShelf Reviews and for Eternal Press as an author, editor and marketing manager. You can find her at Facebook, MySpace, Livejournal and Goodreads under the user name Kim_Richards.
Thank you, Kim Richards, for agreeing to an interview on my blog.
1.) What is a death mask?
Throughout the ages, man often made masks of the deceased faces. It is a way of honoring the dead and, before photographs became available, to preserve the visage of the deceased person for the living to view. There are many in museums around the world including some famous people such as Agamemnon, Cromwell, Edison, Newton and Volaire. During my recent trip to Germany I discovered several in museums including the last Teutonic Knight Hochmeister, Archduke Eugen, and two rulers: Frederic II and Frederic Wilhelm IV. .
I made a plaster cast of my own face to use for promoting Death Masks and the detail of the features surprised me. The death masks I had the opportunity to see also had great detail. FYI: the one I did of myself is technically called a Life Mask since I am still living.
2.) What does a death mask have to do with the book?
One thing many serial murderers have in common is collecting something from their victims. In this story the killer makes a death mask of each victim. It’s also intended to be a play on the words since there is something unexpected about the murderer revealed at the very end so the fact that the identity remained hidden is a kind of mask.
3.) Why did you decide to write this book? What inspired you?
I wrote the first draft while living in Ohio, across the street from a metro park. Having come from the wide open spaces of New Mexico, the dense trees of Ohio and steep areas struck me as places to dump a body. Often in the news, people were found days after driving off into one of these areas. I did talk with the park rangers near me and found out they try to keep any assaults or other problems occurring in the parks under wraps so that people will feel safe in coming there.
4.) Why a story about a serial killer? Aren’t those overdone (SPOILER ANSWER)?
I decided early on I wanted my protagonist to be someone different than those you find in a lot of thrillers. Bill is an IT computer support tech instead of a detective or someone with law enforcement experience. His curiosity keeps him on the trail but his lack of experience causes him to make mistakes.
5.) The murderer is female. Her sex isn’t revealed until the last chapter. In the opening scene it is left unclear she is even human.
6.) Why a female murderer? (SPOILER QUESTION)
Women serial murderers tend to be better at killing than their male counterparts. They go for longer periods of time before being caught, with higher body counts for several reasons: they seldom talk about their crimes to anyone, they tend to take choose less violent ways of death, and for women—many of their killings are viewed as mercy deaths and therefore more acceptable to society. For example: the woman whose elderly relatives die in her care. The rest of her family may not realize she poisoned them, thinking they passed on of old age. I find that concept extremely chilling.
7.) Why did you decide to publish Death Masks with an e-book publisher (Eternal Press)?
I find every path to publishing valid in one form or another. My first book came out as under a print on demand format because I had the opportunity to do it free. I do editing for Eternal Press and so took the opportunity when offered to me to try my hand at an ebook. It may not be the best choice for every book but I believe a good one for this story. I prefer to form my own opinions about such things with a little of my own experience.
8.) Tell us about the book trailer for the novella?
My fiance, William Gilchrist filmed it for me using ideas we brainstormed together. The music is from a death metal band from my hometown of Roswell, New Mexico. I wanted a rougher sound since this is not a happy, fluffy story. The neat thing is the band, Children of a Lesser God, and I are working together to promote ourselves. It’s opened up some interesting opportunities. They will be taking touring all summer and Death Masks goes with them.
9.) What else have you published recently?
August of 2007 saw a book called The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction released from Dragon Moon Press. I wrote the chapters on world building and sub-genres. Presently I am writing a chapter for the same editors on Celtic Magic for a book on writing fantasy magic expected for fall 2008 release.
April 2008 Death Masks came out, and towards the end of the month, an anthology of dragon stories titled, Firestorm of Dragons. Firestorm is from DragonMoon Press. I have a story in this one about what dragons really do with all those maidens who get sacrificed to them.
Then in the fall of 2008, I have an entry in a Twisted Twins horror themed desk calendar. Yep. I got the January 1 spot!! It’s the New Year’s Resolutions of a serial killer (intended to be funny).
10.) What are you working on now?
I have a horror novel tentatively titled, Holy Blessed Homicide, which I am revising. It is also out in submission.
I am also in the first rewrites of a story about the Amazon warrior women from the region of Turkey. It was my 2007 nanowrimo project but I have two more in the series planned. The first of which is brainstormed and the first few chapters written.
14.) Do you have a book coming out? If so what? Do you have a web site? Do you have a blog? My space?
Death Masks is available from Eternal Press. I also have a story out in an anthology of dragon stories by another publisher.
To check out the trailer for Death Masks. The metal band is from my home town, Roswell, New Mexico. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp2zpDNMfmM
My website is: Kim Richards You can also find me at Myspace, Livejournal, Facebook, Blogger, Good Reads and Writer’s Chatroom. All under the username Kim_Richards.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions for my blog. Good luck with your writing.
Here is my review for the novella:
Kim Richards’ horror novella, Death Masks, starts off with a bang, as a jogger is murdered by a killer. Then it switches next to slow, but comfortable, like an old pair of shoes. We get to know the main character, Bill Cristo, learn how he must lose weight, and meet his coworkers and his live-in girlfriend, Dixie. When Bill decides to start exercising, by walking a path in a park near his place, he runs into what he thinks is someone trying to rob a man. When he tries to be a hero, he is forced to the ground and gets a good look at the eyes of the attacker, through the ski mask. His next sight of the unconscious victim reveals the man isn’t knocked out, for his eyes are wide open and showing hopelessness and terror. Bill’s own panic escalates at that point, when something strikes the side of his head and he falls into darkness.
This is the story of an ordinary American man. He has the life through day-to-day today, he’s overweight, he decides to make a change for a healthier lifestyle by exercising, there’s love in his live with a beautiful woman and he works at a job that isn’t specila, but needed to survive. But when Ms. Richards blends in the terrifying circumstances of murder, suddenly Bill’s life is not so ordinary. There’s more at stake than being overweight that might kill him. Murder might kill him a lot sooner than a heart attack. And he’ll learn that everyone around him wears masks to cover their real faces.
This is the kind of murder mystery with the touch of terror that will have you guessing to the end who the killer is. And like Bill, you may be very much surprised, if not horrified. A good summer read, just don’t read it before you go out jogging in the early evening at your local park. Because then you’ll wonder if the rustling in the bushes along the path is really a rabbit.