Our Obsession with Darkness: Serial Killers

by Renee Miller



It’s no secret humans have a sick fascination with death. As an extension of that, we are enthralled by serial killers. A twisted mind is intriguing. Inspiring even. I devour shows like The Following (LOVED Joe Carroll’s character), How to Make a Murderer, and Dexter—Oh. My. Fucking. God. Be still my little writer heart. What is it about these horrible, sick people that takes hold of a person’s mind and won’t let go? Well, I’ve pondered that a lot.

I write a lot of murder scenes. In my Milo Smalls series (Mind Fuck), the MC is a homicide detective with a nose for serial killers. So it follows that my Google searches are interesting to someone. How to get away with murder, mistakes killers make, weirdest way to kill a person… It’s all just research. Honest.

Maybe you’re like me, and your interest lies in what makes such a mind tick or why we’re drawn to them. Perhaps it’s the danger that attracts us. I don’t know. Fiction plays into this in a big way. Readers love that evil genius, who is borderline insane, strangely attractive, and desperately wants to get caught. But not all serial killers are geniuses, nor are they men, as many people believe. We imagine them as white males of higher than average intelligence, because it’s what we see in the media. Many of the killers who’ve become infamous are white men; Gacy, Rader, Bundy, Dahmer, etc. Finding a female serial killer is rare. You probably knew that, though. Is it because there are fewer women out there murdering than men? Perhaps. Statistics say that only one in six serial killers are female.  When I see that I think “Well, only one in six who are caught.”

And most of the time, I believe they do whatever they can to avoid getting caught. They don’t want to be locked up. They don’t want to stop. So they become experts at manipulation. They become adept at being invisible. They’re often pretty damn charming too. Sure, they might be a little weird. Creepy, even, if you get close enough to catch them with their guards down. But who would want to get that close? Not this girl. However, most of them know how to read people. They’re able to manipulate victims into situations they might usually avoid, after all. I mean who would expect this guy,

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Would turn out to be this guy?

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Who else is a little turned on right now? Just me? Moving along then.

Many serial killers are on the fringes of society. They may appear to be part of everything, but inside they’re not wired the same as us “normals.” And they know it. So they watch. Make notes. They use this information to blend in, to behave in a manner that keeps suspicion off them.So next time you’re all aflutter over that stranger’s winning personality and bedroom eyes, remember there’s no way to know who among us is harmless and who just got back from a skinning session. It’s not like they have a particular trait or physical characteristic that warns us. Many psychopaths are very much in touch with reality, and understand right from wrong so they do whatever they have to do to keep their activities a secret. They move around below our radar. Most are not reclusive, social weirdos. They don’t act strange and aren’t easily identified. They have families, jobs, and can be upstanding members of their communities, and do whatever is necessary to ensure they’re overlooked by law enforcement and victims.

And this leads me to another disturbing fact: It takes a lot for a serial killer to grab our attention these days. Sure, law enforcement is VERY interested, but the general public is all “Oh, you shot fifty people? Did you eat any of them? Make a skull headboard? Skin lamp? No?”


“Ugh. Move along, Mr. Lunatic. We’re done with you.”

If a serial killer these days wants to be famous, or has a desire to be remembered, he’ll have to up the ante. Terrifying thought, but there it is. We reward the vilest deeds by almost fangirling them. It’s fascinating, thrilling even, to know every detail of their crimes. To stare at their images from the safety of our homes, look into their eyes for evidence of something, anything, that makes them different from you or me, and hypothesize what went so wrong this person would enjoy taking lives.

A sort of consolation prize for getting caught, I suppose, is that everyone learns who you are and what you did. Thanks to the constant bombardment of horrific images we see in movies, games, television shows and news reports, we’ve all become kind of blind to the stuff that used to keep us up at night. It’s almost like now they’re at our mercy if they’re seeking infamy. We need them to be truly horrific monsters. That way, we can rest easy believing Average Joe next door would never break in and wear our skin as a cape or fry up our liver.

What have we become? Relax. It’s normal to feel or think all of these things. Getting a thrill out of these stories doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you pretty average. I mean, what makes a gripping story? Action, danger, dread, mystery, a hero and a villain… All of these things are present in serial killer stories, real or imagined. No wonder we’re captivated. We get to see the disturbing details of their lives, pick them apart, figure out what went wrong. We can determine how they kill, what they look for in a victim, and maybe, just maybe, protect ourselves from becoming another name on a list in some documentary about a serial killer.

And don’t feel bad for getting hooked by the “what if” factor either. You’re human. It’s normal to wonder (if only once) what it would be like to do whatever we wanted, society’s rules be damned.

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After saying all of this, I admit, I sometimes wonder if writers are guiltier of romanticising serial killers than the rest of the public. Maybe. We do like to dig inside the heads of people who live life on the fringes. But then, if readers didn’t love it so much, we’d be forced to find another way to grab their attention. Lucky for us, there’s always sex.



For the foreseeable future, serial killers will hold a place in the dark recesses of our minds and hearts. We will continue to watch and wonder when one is caught. We’ll continue to obsess over those who got away. And some of us will still be here to write about all of it.



Do You Deviate?

by Renee Miller

According to Meriam Webster, deviant is defined as, “Different from what is considered to be normal or morally correct.” So, the opposite of deviance, in my opinion, is conformity. In art, I think conformity is the enemy. Don’t you?

You there. Yes, the one who disagreed. You’re outta here. Go on. Take your shit with you.

Norms, as most of you probably know (I hope), are rules and expectations, which members of society use to determine right and wrong. Deviance is the failure to conform to these norms. Social norms are different from culture to culture, so what’s deviant for you might not be deviant for someone else. It’s all so subjective. Sigh. In most societies, fighting is considered deviant, because we shouldn’t physically harm one another just because we can, and yet, boxing and ultimate fighting exist, and we LOVE them. So in that context, physical violence isn’t deviant. It’s a sport. Killing each other is also deviant in most cultures, except of course when the law dictates it’s okay (during war or as a punishment, for example, not that I’m taking sides on either, so just calm the fuck down). See what I mean? It’s all so confusing.

Deviant behavior is generally given a negative light, but we still embrace it. Why? I think it’s because many of us realize there are many positive things that can occur as a direct result of deviant thoughts or behavior.

Yes, extreme deviance, such as murder, are not good at all. Bad deviance. Don’t do it. Deviant behavior or ideas that lead chaos and/or violence is not a great thing either. Don’t be deviant in a way that creates a cluster-fuck of awful. Do it in a way that helps us evolve and become better humans.

Be the type of deviant that forces social change, for example. How does being weird or “not normal” change anything? If an act deemed as “deviant” occurs often enough, it can eventually become accepted. Once upon a time, women weren’t allowed to read. If we could read, we might think, and if we thought—gasp—we might question or neglect our womanly duties. The horror! Our bold lady ancestors were having none of that, though, and women secretly learned to read and write anyway. Soon, there were so many women reading, the menfolk were all “Fuck it, boys. They’re doing it anyway.” Sure, it wasn’t as simple as that, but you get my point.

Deviance also helps us adjust to change. It’s terrifying when something new comes along. Alternate lifestyles, new technology, and the like are scary for many people. But those brave few who embrace these initially deviant and unpopular things help the rest of us find the balls to check them out for ourselves.

Using the oppression of the female gender as an example again, remember when women weren’t allowed to vote or how it was frowned upon for a gal to wear pants? Remember when it wasn’t okay for a girl to love another girl (or a guy to notice his team mate’s sweet ass)? (I realize we’re still struggling with same-sex relationships, but stay with me. We’ve come a long way.) A few so-called deviants did things differently anyway and over time, the deviant kids made these new things less scary, and now we all have pants and (in some cultures) we can love whoever we want to love and women can vote.

The downside, I suppose, is that deviant behavior can also be used for evil. Religion, for example. Back in the day, many folks used religion as a reason for murdering countless women (and some men). They were burned, drowned, and whatever else the judge in question deemed appropriate. These behaviors are definitely deviant. I mean, in polite society, we do not kill people for doing naughty things like magic. However, with enough time and enough preaching, the church’s murderous ways were accepted as the norm.

That’s bad deviance. Don’t do it.

We chose to embrace deviants here at Deviant Dolls, because the dolls believe in pushing boundaries. We believe in change and individual expression. We love the outcasts, because the outcasts are the ones who typically break new ground and burn the old, useless institutions that do nothing but stop or slow down progress. Besides, we’re all deviants in some way. There is no single person in today’s world who follows every single law/norm/moral society dictates we should follow. Whether you smoke, drink, gamble, masturbate, hate your asshole neighbor, drive above the speed limit, make an illegal u-turn, cheat on your taxes, pick a scab, or whatever, we’ve all deviated from what we’re told is right. Sometimes we even have good reasons for it.

The only way to change what is normal is to do what is not normal. You must question the preconceived notions of what is morally right. You must challenge people to look outside their box and view the world from another perspective. This can’t be done if you don’t deviate a little bit. In writing, the willingness to do what isn’t “accepted” is extremely important. It frees us creatively in a way that is terrifying and awesome.

That is why we are deviant and it’s why we encourage you to be the same.

NOT the bad deviance. No murders, rapes, burglaries or whatever’s going to hurt someone else or get your ass thrown in jail. Do the deviance that has a purpose in the grand scheme of things.

There. Now you’ve been disclaimed and informed. Go be an innovator and a shit disturber. We’ve got your back.


Quantifying Creepiness

by C.M. Saunders

Creepy: Causing an unpleasant feeling of fear or unease (Adj.)

We all have a thing. Something that creeps us the fuck out. I know a girl who is terrified of dwarves. Even worse than that, there are people who walk among us, looking all normal and shit, with a profound fear of cheese. Yep, it’s true. The condition even has a name, Turophobia.

My thing is creepy crawlies. Not very original, I know. But my bug fear has a weird little twist. The more legs they have, the more repulsed I get. Dung beetles? Cool. Centipedes? Forget it. There’s also something intrinsically creepy about lobsters and crabs. It’s those pincer things. Therefore, despite being about half an inch long, earwigs put the fear of God into me. ‘Cos they have lots of legs AND pincers, see?

Yep, it’s irrational. On paper it looks damn stupid. But it’s something I can’t control. With humankind being a race of such disparate and complex individuals, anything is possible. What might freak one person out might make another get his freak on. One man’s poison, etc. It’s one of the things that makes our lives so colourful. Imagine how boring this would be if we were all the same.

So is quantifying creepiness even possible?

Apparently so. There’s a wealth of material on the Internet to prove it (so it must be true, right?). Everything from academic papers to sketchy articles like this one. After digesting some of this information, a few points become evident. Some things are almost universally creepy. Clowns? Creepy. Spiders? Creepy. Serial killers? Creepy. Using those indicators, it would be fair to assume that serial killer clowns like John Wayne Gacy would push the creep factor through the roof. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise to discover he had a thing for spiders, too. He was just that kind of guy. Some people make it easy for the rest of us to judge them by ticking every. Fucking. Box. Or at least one box too many.

Usually, though, it isn’t so straightforward. Some boffins (smart, scientific types) have decided that people’s jobs should be taken into account. Apparently, the job with the highest ick factor of all is funeral director, while things like morticians also rank highly. Basically, anything involving death. Does that mean we find death itself creepy? Possibly. On the other hand, according to the statisticians, your friendly local weatherman is about as scary as a poptart. But guess what? That doesn’t mean a weatherman can’t be a serial killer. You just wouldn’t expect him to be, so you’d be even more horrified when sneaks up behind you and stabs you in the throat. Tellingly, a writer friend of mine disagreed with the first assumption because the funeral director she knows was ‘Hot, has amazing abs, and rides a Harley.’ So it turns out, when someone is pleasing to the eye, we’re willing to overlook a lot. Who knew, right?

It’s obviously wrong to pre-judge anyone on what they do for a living. Just like it’s wrong to judge them on where they come from, the colour of their skin, or what music they are into. The only thing that really matters is what people are actually like. You know, their personality and shit. And here, a Reddit user by the name of Saigonsquare has helpfully attempted to produce a handy formula to help us decide how creepy the people around us really are.

Creepiness = (Awkwardness x Forwardness / Attractiveness) ^ Persistence.

See the role ‘attractiveness’ plays? It’s right up there, which means my friend with a thing for funeral directors isn’t such a freak after all. Apparently, if you are considered charming and/or good-looking, you can get away with murder. Just ask Ted Bundy.

Of course, this all breaks down when you enter the murky world of the Internet and you can’t actually see who you are talking to. Or, perhaps more accurately, who is talking to you. Sure, they might have a hot profile pic, but how do you know it’s not fake? I was happily chatting away to a hot chick online recently who’d sent me a random friend request a few days before. Things were going pretty well, until ‘she’ sent me a picture of ‘her’ dick. Yup.

Every item in that formula is subjective. Take ‘persistence,’ for example. Everyone likes it when someone shows a romantic interest in them. It makes us feel wanted, valuable, even a bit special. We also like a bit of persistence. The keener the admirer is, the more they must like you. But too much persistence? Nope. Then you’re heading into potentially dangerous stalker territory. So where do we draw the line?

Same goes for ‘forwardness.’ Someone who displays just the right level of confidence is a real go-getter, right? Which can only be a good thing. They probably have a well-paying job, a nice car, prospects, ambition, all that good shit. Nobody wants to go out with a slacker. But there’s a fine line between ‘confident’ and ‘cocky.’ And after ‘cocky’ comes ‘pushy,’ which is an obvious turn-off.

This brings us to the ‘Awkwardness’ part of the equation. Some things just feel wrong. We don’t know why, they just do. It’s instinctive. It’s entirely possible that whatever causes us to lose our shit is linked to some primal condition buried deep within us. A legacy, perhaps, of the time when we crawled around on our bellies in swamps. But obviously, that doesn’t explain what the fuck clowns have to do with anything.a