Graham Reid | | 5 min read
When I look back, I think I was always different from other children. They could be distant and stay in their rooms reading, but I was always very outgoing, loved to run and play and actually had quite a lot of friends.
I grew up in a very happy home and I loved my mum and dad, and they loved me. I have a younger sister Anna and I loved her too. We used to play together all the time, lots of make-believe stories, climbing trees and playing tiggy out in the park.
Our parents took us on holidays to the beach quite often and summers were always special times, especially when our grandparents came along or when we went sailing. It was a magical childhood.
Like every child I had a secret friend I would talk to and share my secrets with.
When I got a little older, maybe around 12, I started to get very into reading and books . . . but not to the expense of friends and enjoying life.
For my 13thbirthday my parents threw a party for me and I invited a lot of friends from school. And they all turned up and we had a wonderful time.
Around then I started to write stories for myself and one year I showed a piece to a teacher who was very encouraging. She said it didn't need any more work and she took it to the school magazine's editor and they published it. I was very excited.
After that my stories appeared every year in the magazine and I actually won a prize for literature and got $100 for it.
Then my teacher entered one of my stories in a national competition run by a newspaper and I won that too. And I also won a New Writer's Award the same year for another story.
In fact, and it's a little embarrassing, but every story I wrote and entered in a competition got published and won a prize.
But I wasn't bookish, I still had a lovely life and when I was 16 I met my first real boyfriend, Daniel. He was gentle and kind and when I was about 17 we had sex for the first time. And it was very different from what I expected.
All my friends who'd “done it” said how awful and painful and quick it was, but Daniel was wonderful and it was one of the happiest experiences of my life.
When I was 18 I went to university on a scholarship to study English and Creative Writing. At that time Daniel went to London and I was unhappy for a little while, but then university was so exciting and new.
I had a wonderful tutor for my Creative Writing course, a very handsome single man in his early Thirties who I had a crush on . . . and I know he had one on me. But he was always professional and caring and very respectful, as has been every man I have ever met.
With his help I got my first deal with a publisher for a collection of short stories which, as you probably know, went on to win many awards and was taken to the Frankfurt Book Fair where it was picked up by a number of agents.
It has now been translated into seven languages and what I earned allowed me to buy a nice two-bedroom apartment near the harbour where I could set up an office and have even more time to write. I graduated with honors from the Creative Writing class and my work was in much demand. And I was still only 21.
The breakthrough into my mature style which has been so popular and critically acclaimed?
I think it really came when I was talking with the venerable writer Kevin Scotland and he said, “Why must all these bloody futures be dystopian?”
And I thought about that.
Yes, why not place the ideas and characters in a future that is very much like the present, just pleasant and where everyone is nice and people aren't all hiding dreadful secrets?
So when I developed the Chrissie Cutter character I just placed her in a pleasant, orderly, middle-class suburban world where things just go along nicely for most people. And readers responded to that, because they recognised it.
But that also allows Chrissie do what she does in the series.
When I married Martin he bought us a lovely big villa in Freeman's Bay with a large office for me – again with a view right across the water, I really can't write unless I am in a very comfortable place. And while he was doing his business, and I don't believe he has ever read any of the Cutter stories, I could continue to write and win awards and make money from my work.
When one of my stories was picked up by a major American movie studio for development we went to Los Angeles for a month and had such a wonderful time and met ever-so-many famous actors and actresses.
When I came home I found I was pregnant and we couldn't have been happier. That was 12 years ago and so much has happened since.
We now have two wonderful children, my Cutter series has become an international best seller and we have just optioned two more of my earlier books for movie development.
And I have to be honest, I've never suffered writer's block or anything like that. The stories just seem to make themselves known to me and at time I feel like I am just the typist of the ideas. And the one who gets the very large cheques.
So it is has been a wonderful life so far – and I'm still only 38 – and while I've been in custody awaiting sentencing I've had a lot of time to think about it.
As told to Towbar Carhire of NewsCycle and SpinHub www.newscycleandspinhub.com.nz
EDITOR'S NOTE: Erika Darksson was born Mary McKenzie in Takapuna, Auckland and has enjoyed an international career as a writer since she was in her late teens. Her Cutter series won praise from many critics and fellow writers, one of whom noted that “never before have I read scenes of such unrelenting violence, brutal rapes, forensically detailed murders and misanthropic malevolence which have also been so beautifully and thoughtfully crafted. That the character of Chrissie Cutter explodes with sudden, inexplicable and irrational violence makes her one of the most terrifying figures in modern writing”.
Darksson's many books have redefined the genre of killer-thriller-noir and numerous Scandinavian and Jihadi authors have looked to her work for inspiration.
Yet her career came to a sudden halt last April as she explains.
“One morning at home I noticed that Hermione had left her lunch on the counter and so I took it up to the school and went to give it to her teacher. When I got there I saw my husband Martin and the young teacher rutting like animals in her office. I watched for a little while then quietly went to the staffroom, said hello in passing to a few teachers I knew, and then took a large fork and a bread knife from the kitchen.
“I went back to the classroom and surprised Martin and that bitch, stabbed them both again and again, then gouged their eyes out with the fork. I cut off Martin's prick and stuffed it into her filthy mouth.
“Then I dragged their bodies outside into the playground and set them on fire.
“As I sat there smoking a cigarette and watching them burn there were screams from the teachers, children were howling and crying, there was the sound of police sirens and shouting . . . it was deafening. But for the first time in decades I couldn't hear the voices in my head.
“At that moment I felt an enormous sense of peace and quiet.
“And I was happy, the happiest I've been since I was a child.”
For other articles along these lines, but more humorous, check out Absurd Elsewhere here.