julie-innisJulie Innis‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Prick of the Spindle, BLIP, Slush Pile, Lit N Image, Fogged Clarity, Pindeldyboz, The Long Story, and Underground Voices, among others. In May 2009, she was a finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers and in May 2010, she won the Seventh Glass Woman Prize for Fiction. She has high hopes for May 2011.

Susan Tepper: Julie, your story “My First Serial Killer is an eyebrow raiser right from the get-go.  So it’s the narrator’s first serial killer, does that mean she anticipates and even desires other serial killers?

Julie Innis: I don’t know how much this character desires serial killers as much as she desires meaningful attention from men.  This is probably a sad commentary on the state of Manhood today.  This story grew out of the title — which is pretty unusual for me.  There’s a toy called “My Pretty Pony” and I’d been playing around with riffs on that:  “My Pretty Pitbull” etc. and somehow managed to stumble onto the idea of “Firsts” and having a first serial killer made a lot of sense to me at the time, probably because I’m from Ohio, birthplace of a number of presidents and serial killers.

ST:  Desire, yes.  And connection.  She talks politics with her serial killer while he inflicts pain.  Is this a form of sexual transference going on?

JI:  I free-associated a lot of this story, probably more madness than method, admittedly.  The Dorothy Hamill haircut made me think of Ice Castles which reminded me of Robby Benson and then to Lloyd Benston. That I imagine this serial killer to be a Republican I hope makes clear the perilous situation our liberal-minded narrator finds herself in!  Had I written this story within the past year, perhaps he would have been a Tea Party member, though I hope my serial killer comes across as being somewhat well-educated, aloof, and fiscally conservative as opposed to rabid, insane, and fiscally suicidal.

As far as sexual transference goes, there’s a great deal of impotence involved with a serial killer who uses a dull knife.  (I’m sorry, Mom, if you’re reading this, but it had to be said.)

ST:  HA!  I’m sure your Mom will forgive you for the sake of art.   The narrator and her serial killer interact like a severely dysfunctional couple.  You write: Our days together fall into an easy rhythm–breakfast then a trip to the bathroom, his eyes politely averted

It’s totally zany and funny despite the horrific aspect of torture and confinement.  Not an easy thing to pull off, Julie, yet you did.  How so?

JI:  I should admit that I wrote this story in large part to amuse myself, so it’s a huge relief to hear that someone else besides me finds it zany and funny.  I have been known to have a sick sense of humor.

True story:  I have not shown this story to my mother who would definitely not find it zany or funny, though my aunts (my mother’s five sisters) somehow managed to stumble across this story on the internet in the past year, circulated it among themselves, declared it ‘bizarre’, swore to never show it to my mother, and then agreed that it was typical of me since I’ve always been ‘the weird one.”  Ah family.

ST:  Julie that is exactly what I do.  Write to amuse thyself!  Why else write?

Well to add insult to injury (literally), her serial killer starts having girls over at night, which is an absolutely fabulous plot twist.  Total story insanity at this point.  Does this upset her?

JI:  Yes, the clack of those high heels is much much worse than any of the shallow knife passes or cigarette burns.  That he loses interest in her is the deepest cut of all.

ST:  I won’t give away your ending which is the cherry on the cupcake.  But did you know where this story was going or did the ending kind of fling itself at you?

JI:  I’ve read a lot of writers who talk about discovering the story as they go.  It always seemed like something that would happen to other people, but not to me — like being crowned Prom Queen, or getting a reality TV show.  So when it happened with this story, this ending that yes, exactly as you put it, flung itself at me, I thought Finally, now I am a real writer and big things are going to start happening.

This was over two years ago and I’m still waiting.  But I was glad to experience, if only briefly, the magic of the organically realized ending.

Read “My First Serial Killer” by Julie Innis

Monday Chat is a bi-weekly series in which Susan Tepper has a conversation with a Fictionaut writer about one of his or her stories. Susan is Assistant Editor of Istanbul Literary Review and hosts FIZZ, a reading series at KGB Bar.

  1. Kathy Fish

    Oh that is an amazing story from an amazing writer. Love hearing how it all came about. Terrific interview Susan and Julie!

  2. JB Lacombe

    Love this story and love this interview! :)

  3. Marcus Speh

    absolutely wonderful: story, questions, answers. how interesting to sneak a glimpse from one of fictionaut’s best and brightest. thanks for sharing best wishes for that mysterious may 11 event.

  4. Jane Hammons

    Wonderful story of a wonderful story.

  5. Gary Percesepe

    oh, this is a wonderful conversation about a terrific, over the top cool story–

    this: As far as sexual transference goes, there’s a great deal of impotence involved with a serial killer who uses a dull knife.


    great job susan, and julie! yes yes

  6. Gloria Mindock

    I enjoyed this chat so much. I loved It!!! The questions and answers were great! Congratulations Julie and Susan!!!
    Whew! Just amazing Julie!!!!!
    Yes, Julie, Ohio has had it share of Serial Killers, Illinois too!

  7. Chris Tarry

    Great interview with one of my favorite writers about a great story. You got it goin’ on Innis! To the moon!

  8. M.B.

    Great interview!

  9. Foster Trecost

    Great chat, both of you. And Julie, I loved the story.

  10. Julie Innis

    Wow, thank you all so much! And a special thanks to Susan for making talking about my writing so painless, and fun!

  11. Jules Archer

    Great chat Susan and Julie! Getting into the mind of Julie Innis’s is almost as good as a serial killer’s!

  12. estelle bruno

    Wow – I can imagine those aunts of yours, hiding this from your mom. Do the aunts speak to you anymore?

    A great chat.

  13. Julie Innis

    Estelle – yes, thank god! I have not yet been disowned, though I did come close the time I let the bull out of his pen. (My mom grew up on a farm)

  14. Christopher

    I’m with your aunts. I’m going to circulate this one to everyone except your mother. Loved it.

  15. susan tepper

    I can’t find words to say what fun it was to do this chat with Julie. Thanks to all who’ve commented. She gets the credit here, I was just the microphone.

  16. Quenby Larsen

    Fun interview, Julie and Susan!

  17. Heather Vaulkhard

    oh…i loved this!! thank you…

  18. Grey Johnson

    Interview was great to read, as was the story. Always good to hear more about a writer.

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