The Serial Killer Files is dead

Allow me to understate the obvious: I haven't been posting much here anymore. Last year, I decided to combine my blog with my website to make things a bit easier for me to update. It doesn't make much sense to maintain two different sites, especially when I'm not even that great at maintaining one.

So for new blog posts, book news, personal news, events information, and everything else you might want to know, you can find me at from now on. I even blogged there yesterday (I know right? And nobody forced me . . . crazy!). At the very least, you'll know I'm not dead. 

I will leave the Serial Killer Files here, exactly where it's always been, even though all my old posts have been exported to the new site.

And of course, for real-time stalking, you can always find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I may have forgotten to mention that I'm regular columnist at The Thrill Begins, so you can find me there, too (and there's lots of good stuff there, actually, especially for new thriller writers).

Blogger, you amazing free site, you've been fucking good to me. Thank you for seven years of community and friendship.

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Have you snagged your copy of WONDERLAND yet?

"A fast-paced, razor-sharp thriller that is impossible to put down. Jennifer Hillier is a stunningly-talented author and Wonderland is her best yet."
~ Mark Edwards, bestselling author of The Magpies and Follow You Home

"Wonderland is a tightly woven mystery by Hillier, reigning mistress of the freaky and creepy . . . this one leaves a mark with outstanding suspense and a shocking ending."

"This is not only Jennifer Hillier's best novels yet, it's one of the stronger novels I've read in 2015 . . . Wonderland is a labyrinth that'll both awe you by its complexity and gradually freak you out of your mind." 

"Hillier has the tremendous talent of creating the most horrific and terrifying individuals . . . I sat back in awe when it was all revealed."
~ Jenn's Bookshelves

"This story is scary, and the fears are real. Grab it and settle in for a good read."
~ Random Book Muses

"Good luck figuring out whodunnit . . . bombshell after bombshell."
~ By Hook or By Book

"A wicked ride. From the downright strange, to ultimate creepy–this book has everything."
~ Little Miss Trainwreck

"A killer ending. Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier kept me turning the pages and is a suspenseful read."
~ Author Cherie Reich 

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Bouchercon 2015 was, in one word, EPIC

I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about attending Bouchercon 2015, mainly because the thought of leaving my 11-month-old for the first time made me a tiny bit sick to my stomach. In the end, though, I went, because the only thing worse than not going to Bouchercon is having to see all the pictures your friends post on Facebook and Twitter with you NOT in them.

Plus, Bouchercon is my tribe.

So I cried saying goodbye to my baby (for the record, I was a wreck, while he was completely fine) and boarded my flight to Raleigh, North Carolina. And to be honest, once I got there, I had the time of my life. I made a ton of new friends, turned online friendships into real-life friendships, caught up with old friends, talked about all things writing and publishing, had some drinks, ate some good Southern cuisine, and learned a whole lot.

Here are the highlights:

Hugs from my dear friend, Alice Loweecey! Alice and I met years ago, and critiqued each other's work before either of us was published. Her new book, the fifth in her nun PI series (yes, an ex-nun who's a PI!) is called SECOND TO NUN, and it's out now. Go buy it, it's fabulous (and I'm not just saying that because I got to read an advance copy).

Aymar. My buddy for the week. Ed Aymar (E.A. Aymar to those of you who haven't had the pleasure of eating chicken and waffles with him) is the author of  I'LL SLEEP WHEN YOU'RE DEAD and YOU'RE AS GOOD AS DEAD. Ed is currently the managing editor of The Thrill Begins, ITW's blog for debut authors (which I'll be contributing to every other month). He's also a fantastic writer and a great friend.

And this dashing man is Mark Pryor, author of the Hugo Marston series (five books now!) as well as his newest book, the standalone HOLLOW MAN. I've known Mark a long time, and I can really say - with absolute authority and not a trace of sarcasm - that he really is the most dashing man I know. It's the British accent combined with the cowboy boots, I think.

And this is other Mark I've known for a long time. You might see his name, Mark Edwards, on my WONDERLAND promo, because as busy and successful as this guy is, he still made time to read my book! I was so happy to finally meet him. We've been online friends for years, and he's as nice in person as he is online (which is why you should follow him on Twitter).

Ah, the Marriott bar. This is where the magic (and alcohol-induced awesomeness) happened every night after the panels and dinners were done. Be there, or be talked about! This picture only shows maybe a fraction of what it actually looked like, because in reality the entire bar and lobby were always packed, and the sound was like one giant wall of noise as soon as you stepped off the elevators. I spent most of the weekend shouting, which is why my throat hurts now.

Here is a completely horrible shot of the K-9 Dreyfus and his deputy at the "What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of the Working Cadaver Dog" panel. I love panels like this, where you know you're going to learn something completely new. Dreyfus finds dead bodies! He showed us how he does it! And of course he's as cute as can be.

This the Raleigh Rickshaw driver (rider? pedaler?) who took Aymar and me to Beasley's Chicken and Honey for dinner. I would have had him take our picture, but Aymar is camera shy.

Some people are true artists when it comes to photographing their food. I'm not one of them. But this plate of fried chicken and waffles was to die for! I mean, literally to die for. I think a need a detox from all the fat... but considering it was the first time I'd ever had chicken and waffles, it was worth every calorie.

Still mildly bloated from the huge dinner the night before, I took a quick shot of my panel as the room was filling up. They put us in THE BIG ROOM! Which really shouldn't have surprised me, considering the powerhouse authors I was on the panel with, plus the topic (which most people seem intrigued by).

Here's a shot of us in action, talking about "Serial Killers, Psychopaths, Sociopaths, and Human Monsters within Literature." Look at how captivated I am. I honestly would have been content to have been in the audience, listening to these guys talk.

And finally, here's a shot of me with my fellow panelists: Moderator Debbi Mack, Michael Robotham, Steve Hamilton, Reed Farrel Coleman, and me.

I have lots of photos still in my phone, but it's hard to fit them all here. Overall, it was an amazing weekend, though I'm happy to be home with my boys. Looking forward to Bouchercon in New Orleans next year!

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WONDERLAND Official Book Trailer

My favorite month is October, and not just because it's pumpkin spice latte season. There are so many things to love about October - the changing colors of the leaves, the crispness in the air, Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween . . .

But my favorite thing of all? WONDERLAND is out October 5! From now until October 19, the ebook is only $1.99. Check out the book trailer! You can click here to pre-order from the etailer of your choice.

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Welcome to Wonderland!

Welcome to Wonderland!
Or as we like to call it, Funderland!
There's something here for everyone
Whether you're three years old or eighty years young
Stay, play, and have a great day!
That's the Wonderland way!

Fans of Chelsea Cain and Lisa Gardner will devour this edgy thriller about the gruesome secrets hidden beneath a small-town amusement park. From the author of Creep, Freak, and The Butcher, Jennifer Hillier’s “fine knack for creating hideous killers” (Booklist) is vividly on display.

Welcome to Wonderland. By day, it’s a magical place boasting a certain retro charm. Excited children, hands sticky with cotton candy, run frenetically from the Giant Octopus ride to the Spinning Sombrero, while the tinkling carnival music of the giant Wonder Wheel—the oldest Ferris wheel in the Pacific Northwest—fills the air. But before daybreak, an eerie feeling descends. Maybe it’s the Clown Museum, home to creepy wax replicas of movie stars and a massive collection of antique porcelain dolls. Or maybe it’s the terrifyingly real House of Horrors. Or…maybe it’s the dead, decaying body left in the midway for all the Wonder Workers to see.

Vanessa Castro’s first day as deputy police chief of Seaside, Washington, is off to a bang. The unidentifiable homeless man rotting inside the tiny town’s main tourist attraction is strange enough, but now a teenage employee—whose defiant picture at the top of the Wonder Wheel went viral that same morning—is missing. As the clues in those seemingly disparate crimes lead her down a mysterious shared path of missing persons that goes back decades, she suspects the seedy rumors surrounding the amusement park’s dark history might just be true. She moved to Seaside to escape her own scandalous past, but has she brought her family to the center of an insidious killer’s twisted game? Acclaimed author Jennifer Hillier’s bone-chilling thriller is masterful and fast-paced, hurtling toward a shocking, bloody conclusion.

Huge news, guys. WONDERLAND is only $1.99 right now for all e-formats! Pre-order now! It's out October 5.

Want to know what else is $1.99 for a limited time? CREEP! And FREAK!

I mean, for real. It's almost too much.

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WONDERLAND is coming...

I've been very, very, very lucky with my covers so far, but I gotta say, I think my publisher hit it out of the park with this one.

Coming October 5! (Though it's possible the date may be pushed back because of me... actually, the baby. Yes, okay, good, let's blame the baby.) Pre-order now!

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A conversation with Luke Walker

I'm super excited to post an interview with my friend, Luke Walker, a horror writer I've known for about eight years now. Luke is a fantastically talented writer who I knew had something special when we first met. He's just released his latest, DIE LAUGHING, which has about the scariest cover I think I've ever seen. We decided to keep this interview more conversational - all that was missing was the face-to-face interaction, and, of course, the drinks. One day soon, right, Luke?

Without further ado...

Do you remember how we “met”? 

Yep. Over on Absolute Write, I posted a short story for critique, one originally titled THE MOTHER. This was around '06-'07. You really liked it and let me know. A couple of years later, that story and you liking it came up in conversation on AW. Inspired by what you said, I went back to it and spent a while rewriting and tidying the story into an improved version. Eventually, it became ECHIDNA and was published in Volume 4 of POSTSCRIPTS TO DARKNESS. So I owe that one to you reading a so-so draft, seeing something decent in there and telling me.

While that was going on, I read your first book and what I strongly suspected was confirmed: you knew exactly what you were talking about when it comes to writing.

That’s how I remember it too. I don’t know if I told you this, but you were the first writer I ever made contact with on AW, or anywhere, for that matter. I remember being really, really moved by your story. It was like, “Here’s someone who writes what I write. I so want to be his friend because I know he gets it.” Haha. Seriously, though, I was inspired by how hard you worked, and by your sheer talent, which was totally evident. I couldn’t imagine that story NOT ending up somewhere.

So why do you write dark stuff? What drives you to that place?

Thanks. All of that means a lot.

As for writing dark stuff, I honestly don't know. I'm not sure if any writer of horror or the supernatural really knows. It's what I've been reading since I was a kid; it's the films I've watched; it's where my head goes. Horror fiction is a chance to show the absolute best and worst of people. In horror, we see the darkness inside us that most people want to pretend belongs only to the Hannibal Lectors of the real world, and not (potentially) in everyone. At the same time, we see bravery, sacrifice, love and going into death (and beyond) to do what we all hope we would do in a life-threatening situation: the right thing.

Real life can be a nasty, vicious experience with no justification for the shit it puts us through. At least in horror fiction, we can blame the monsters. At least there, we have an evil to fight against. Even if we all we get is our heads torn off for our trouble.

I’m smiling because I completely understand. I write to fend off my demons. If I can imagine the worst, and write about it, it’s like a way of protecting myself from it actually happening, if that makes any sense. Plus, killing people on the page is a great way to relieve stress.

Let’s talk a bit about the writing process. My biggest struggle with writing these days is finding the energy. How do you manage to write books and short stories between a full-time job, a wife, and a LIFE?

Killing fictional people is always fun. Although I try not to publicise that.

As for the time issue, it can be very hard. Having a supportive and understanding wife is, without question, the most helpful part of it. Without her, I'd be a dribbling mess in the corner. Other than that, I treat writing as a second job. I'm at my desk at set times (or as close to it as I can if one of the cats has thrown up and it needs cleaning) and I work for generally the same length of time each session. I take Friday nights off as well as another night in the week. Weekends, I'll do a few hours on either day or both if my wife and I aren't up to anything. Getting the words down isn't a problem most of the time although rejections and waiting to hear back about submissions can take it out of any writer. Then you've got the social media part of it because nobody is going to know about me unless I make myself available on my blog or Twitter. Saying that, the writing has to come first.

Basically, I see it as if I want anyone to read my stuff, then I have to get it done. Nobody else is going to do it for me.

As I suspected, you are very disciplined! But I think you have to be. I think, to finish a work of fiction, you have to be equals parts methodical and creative.

You mentioned social media. Not a days goes by when I don't fantasize about quitting Facebook or Twitter,  but I know I can't, because it's the easiest way to connect with readers. How much do you enjoy the social media part of being a writer? 

For the most part, it's cool. It's very nice to occasionally hear from people who've read something of mine and enjoyed it. (Hint: if anyone else wants to say so, feel free. I'm powered by ego). I find Twitter generally more useful that Facebook for mentioning book related stuff although it's easy on both to get lost in the noise of thousands of others all doing the same.

Social media's a tool as much as anything. Yes, you can overdo it and stress about being on one forum and not another, but that's a bad move. I try to be the sort of person that readers want to talk to about books or anything, really. I know there are more sites out there, but Twitter, a bit of Facebook and my blog are more than enough for me. Like I said, writing has to come ahead of socialising online.

It's important to prioritize writing, isn't it? I always say there's no better way to promote your book than to write and put out the next one.

That being said, tell me about DIE LAUGHING. It's got just about the most scary, kick ass cover I've seen in a long time.

DIE LAUGHING was one of those 'I wonder if doing this would be a good idea' things. I had a few short stories I hadn't subbed anywhere, a few older ones I was fond of, and ideas for others. About six months ago, I wondered if tidying up the ones already written and putting them with brand new stories would make a good collection. This was around the same time my first two books went out of print so it seemed like a good way of keeping my name out there as well as getting stories I was proud of to an audience.

As for the title, I originally thought about TIME GENTLEMAN, PLEASE which is the name of the penultimate story. I saw a cover online which fit that, but then I saw my clown. The collection immediately became DIE LAUGHING which is also the name of my blog. After that, it was rewrites, edits, getting feedback from a few writer friends, more edits and polishing and so on. I'm very happy with the finished result.

Click here to purchase

It’s a good feeling when you’re pleased with your own work, isn’t it? I’ve written three books, and one of them, I hated. It seemed to turn out okay, my editor was happy, and it got decent reviews, but I personally never felt that good about the story. I always felt I could have written it better, had I had more time.

How much does external validation mean to you as a writer? Does it mean more to you to write something you’re really proud of, or does it mean more to you that people like it?

I've written loads of stuff I hated. A first draft of a novel last year sucked the big one, and the second wasn't much better. Still working myself up for draft three.

Knowing others liked something I wrote (story or book) is great. People might think that getting a bad review is the worst part; it's not at all. Getting nothing is the worst. I would much rather hear someone didn't like one of my pieces rather than hear nothing about it. At least they took the time to read it. At least they paid for it haha.

Primarily, I write stuff I want to read and I write for my wife since she's obviously the first person to read it. She's not the biggest horror fan in the world but if I can affect her with the characters, if I can make her want to keep reading to see what happens to them, then I'm on to a winner.

Who was the first writer to really get under your skin? You know, the one writer whose book you read, and it changed you somehow, and so you had to go and read everything else he or she has ever written?

Tough one. I've always loved reading and there have been plenty of books that had an impact on me. A few books I read as a kid really fired my imagination but if we're talking the one that probably helped turn me into the writer I am, it's Stephen King's It. I read it when I was eleven (the same age as the characters) and I lived it with them. I still do when re-reading it.

I'd read stuff by King before that; It was the one that changed things, though.

Same. Reading IT was the most incredible experience for me as well. Seven main characters that were all so richly drawn. Just as you said, if you can believe in the characters, you'll believe anything that happens to them, which was why that book was terrifying.

This is a bit of a jump, but what are your thoughts on the current state of publishing? Do you feel differently about it - about getting published, about staying published - than you did when we first met eight years ago? Biggest challenges? Lessons you've learned?

The biggest lesson is that while writing is obviously an artform creatively speaking, publishing isn't. It's a business. It doesn't care how long you've spent working on a book or how much you've put into it. It cares whether or not that book is any good and will sell. If not, then it's back to the end of the line for you and your book. Tough, but that's how it is.

I thought I always knew that and maybe I did. I don't think I really appreciated it until a few years ago, though.

As for how I feel about publishing, not much has changed. I still want the same out of it as I did when I subbed my first book (all the way back in 1999) - get stuff accepted, have it sell in quantities enough for me to earn enough to live on, and then repeat. Probably a wild and crazy idea, I know.

Self-publishing now being easier than it ever has been has changed things for a lot of people (for good and bad). Same with ebooks. My opinion is pretty straightforward: whatever the medium and whatever the method of publication, the quality of the writing and the story is what matters. If both are as high as can be, then it's all good.

Thanks for that. It’s a good reminder for me too to stay focused on the writing, which is really the only part of the process we have 100% control over. The most fun I ever had writing happened before I was published – the only pressure I felt back then was from myself. I’d like to get that feeling back (I’m working on it!).

So, as we wrap this up: What’s next for you?

Last year, I wrote the first drafts of a new novel and a novella. Both were awful. I've read through them, made a lot of notes and I've recently begun outlining a new version of the novella although it's become a full length novel. I'm aiming for a sort of DIE HARD meets JACOB'S LADDER thing.

After that, I'll go back to the novel (a post apocalyptic murder mystery) and see if I can whip it into shape. Normally, I'd have started work on it already but the stories and edits for DIE LAUGHING took up the last six months.

And of course, there are submissions to make, publishers to research, emails to wait for. And wait. And wait.

That's the writer's life.

The writer's life, indeed! Thanks, Luke! I wish you mega success, always.

Luke Walker has been writing horror and fantasy fiction for most of his life. His short story collection, Die Laughing, is now available, and his novella Mirror Of The Nameless is published by DarkFuse. Several of his short stories have been published online and in print. He is currently at work on a new novel and novella.

Luke welcomes comments at his blog which can be read at His Twitter page is @lukewalkerbooks and he is on Facebook at

He is thirty-seven and lives in England with his wife and two cats. He's now had enough of writing about himself in the third person and is going for a lay down.

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