Sunday, April 21, 2013

Man, Dogs, and Evil: An Interview with thriller writer C.K. Raggio

1) Please tell us about Heron Park.

Heron Park is a crime thriller with a horror/psychological twist to it. A small town detective and an FBI agent team up to stop a sadist, who uses highly trained dogs to terrorize and torture his female victims. I tell the story from both sides. The cops searching for clues and chasing a monster, and the monster searching for prey while evading the cops. The dogs have a huge part in the story, and I think this is where Heron Park differs from other serial killer/cop novels.

2) Please tell us about your main characters.

Detective Cassie Logan is a woman who grew up on Long Island's Great South Bay. She's a fisherman's daughter, a tomboy who doesn't look the part. She's confident, hard working and loyal. But her toughness is tested time and again throughout the book. Sometimes she cracks, but she never breaks, and she only grows stronger as the story progresses.

FBI Agent Rick Sanders is a bit of a womanizer. He's good looking and he knows it, but he's also really good at his job. He studied to become a profiler but changed his mind once he realized that meant he wouldn't be leaving the office much. This training comes in huge with the case. Think along the lines of Criminal Minds. He also finds himself quite attracted to a certain Detective Logan.

Timmy. Timmy is a sadistic, twisted killer. You don't find out his real name until about half way through the book. His violence and corrupted imagination lead to some very disturbing scenes. I've been told from some unflappable readers that they were definitely reacting during his murders. Some nausea, some cringes, and a bunch of flinching. I won't say much more about him besides he was one hell of a character to write.

3) What inspired this story?

I'm a dog trainer, and I was working with a small terrier in a nearby park. It was a bit late, the sun almost going down so the park was empty. Or so I thought. As I came around a sharp corner there was a man in a hooded sweatshirt with a golden retriever who obviously didn't like small dogs. It ripped free from it's owner and charged us. I scooped my pup up just in time and yelled at the dog to stay (in my most masculine of voices). It slowed, but didn't stop. I was able to turn my body and stomp down on his leash as he continued to try and rip the small dog from my arms.

The owner finally got control of his dog. After some very disapproving words from me, which I can't say here, I strode in the opposite direction. This got me thinking. What if that dog had been too big for me to control? He could've killed the dog I was walking. Hmm, then - What if he'd been trained to attack, so that while I was focused on my dog being ripped apart the owner could grab me from behind? Jackpot!

And so Heron Park was born.

4) Why do you think so many readers have such interest in such terrible crimes?

That's a tough one. I'd guess that most of these people have a sort of curiosity to violence and death. Maybe a part of them likes to see, read and experience a controlled type of fear. It's the same reason that some people enjoy horror movies. It gets your adrenaline pumping. Turns on the fight or flight mode. Do you read it, or do you skip through to the next scene? Do you watch it, or do you cover your eyes? I think it all depends on a person's ability to separate themselves from the brutality. Kind of like a doctor working in an emergency room, or a detective working on a homicide case.

I don't like to hurt any living thing. I release spiders outside, save earthworms from drowning in puddles after rain storms. Yes, seriously. You'd probably never think that after reading my book. But anyway, I think it's more of a wonderment for me. Why and what made this, or these persons, act that way? I like to try and figure people out. I always have.

5) Does delving into the darkness as part of the writing process ever cause you any distress?

I love this question.

I've been reading horror and true crime stories since I was in high school. I began delving even deeper when I started writing Heron Park three years ago. To say that this research has made me cautious is an understatement.

I had no problem walking by myself at night in the woods a few years ago. Now I wouldn't even consider it. I've woken up in the middle of the night, okay so I wake up most every night to the smallest sound. And I'd be lying if I said I hadn't tiptoed around, bat in hand, looking for an intruder and double checking all the locks.

I'm a little worried I'm going to start sounding like a paranoid loon, but I'll tell you anyhow. I almost broke my husband's nose with an elbow when he snuck up behind me one day. Yeah, not good. He hasn't snuck up on me since though, so I guess that's a good thing.

All in all, it has caused me distress, but I think in a good way. The world isn't all ice cream cake and unicorns. That feeling of being watched, when your hair stands up, and that chill crawls up your back like a giant hairy spider, is usually right. While before I would've ignored it, shook it off, now I take notice and let my instincts decide what I should do next.

6) Do you have any links to any particular excerpts you'd like to share?

My first chapter is available on TG Davis' website -


C.K. Raggio said...

Thank you so much for having me, J.A. I had a blast answering your questions!

J.A. Beard said...

Glad you liked them.

CR HIATT said...

Good to know I'm not the only one who keeps a bat close by, and comes out swinging. :-)

C.K. Raggio said...

Haha, I know right, CR! I bet there's quite a large group of us, but maybe most aren't willing to admit to it. Thanks for stopping by!!

Alan Tucker said...

Wait! The world isn't all ice cream cake and unicorns? What the hell? ;-) Great interview!

C.K. Raggio said...

You didn't know that either, Alan? That makes me feel better, I thought I was the only one who only recently found that out! Thanks for reading!

Elise Stokes said...

Yikes. A giant hairy spider crawling down my back— that's my limit. :) Great interview, C.K. I wondered what had been HP's inspiration. And congrats on the wonderful reviews. Obviously, you're doing a good job of scaring the beejeebus out of others, too. ;)

Anonymous said...

The book sounds very intense and I gather you really got into your character with both positve and negative effects. I just can't think up that much evill

C.K. Raggio said...

Thank you, Elise!! It really is a sigh of relief that I'm just not scaring myself, that would really stink. Lol.

C.K. Raggio said...

Thanks so much for reading, sassyspeaks! Ooh, intense. very fun word, I can only hope my readers think of Heron Park in that way. :) As for thinking up evil things... If I'm really stuck, I listen to Rob Zombie and watch the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It works everytime!

LJ Davis said...

CK I can't wait to read it - right? This coming from the gal who can't watch horror parodies on South Park... LOL -- But Congrats on such a great accomplishment! Great interview!

Ms. Cheevious said...

This is a very interesting subject to me... But of course, I had to sip some vodka just to read THIS. HAHA! Just kidding! Congrats CK! Great interview!

C.K. Raggio said...

I don't know, LJ, those South Park horror parodies are pretty frightening. They might beat me out. ;-) Thanks so much for stopping by!

C.K. Raggio said...

Ah, Ms. Cheevious. I think you and I would be very good friends if you lived on Long Island! Nevertheless, we have a besty in common!! I'm actually hanging with my vodka and her friend cran right now! They say hello!! :-)

Alta said...
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