Death of the Author is a postmodern serial killer thriller.
In the 1990s, postmodernism is at its modern peak, and everything is deconstructed. The genre of serial killer fiction is emerging from the pulps into a serious literary occupation. These two historical forces collide in a sleepy southern city once described by Salman Rushdie as “the ideal setting for a Stephen King novel or horror film” (or did Stephen King describe it as the ideal setting for a Salman Rushdie novel or postmodern film?) as the world’s authors converge at its inaugural Festival of Multiple Homicide Fiction–only to be killed, in gruesome homage to their most famous works, by a shadowy figure quickly dubbed The Reader.
Rachel Stern is a local multiple homicide writer who is researching a new book with the local police when the first of her colleagues is killed. Her knowledge of the genre soon proves invaluable to the investigation, but as more bodies appear it seems that the killer may be targeting her. Her ex-husband has reappeared and is making a nuisance of himself. The conveners of the festival are trying to play down the rumours of a serial killer preying on their authors. As the murders close around Rachel she is forced to question her own part in the gathering darkness, and to confront the very nature of fiction, of characters and authors.
Death of the Author interweaves Rachel’s search for The Reader with chapters from each of the dead authors’ fatal books, with a pastiche of styles and a panoply of killers. It is full of gore, dark humour and metadiscourse, and recommended for anyone with an interest in serial killers or literary theory, and particularly anyone who has been to a writers’ festival or visited Adelaide, South Australia.
This was the manuscript that got me my first agent, and was accepted by a traditional publisher just before they restructured and stopped publishing fiction. By the time everything had fallen out, the book had fallen between the cracks. But people have been asking about it for a while and so I’ve decided to publish it as an independent electronic book.