Author Interview Her Name is Mercie by Chris Roy

How long have you been writing?

By Hook or Crook is a collection of short stories I penned from 2007 – 2010, my first works of crime fiction a friend and I self-published in 2012. One day I was talking with some friends – all of us on High Risk for escaping – about writing a book, the possibilities of it. Making enough money to buy our freedom. I just sat on my bed and began creating these two criminals, Razor and Blondie, and placed them in situations based on personal experiences, and even fabricated jobs from crimes I had read about or learned from other criminals in here. The hamdwritten stories were read by a handful of guys on High Risk and Death Row. Guys that have been, incarcerated for decades, read hundreds of books, and had no fear of pointing and laughing at a fellow convict. But they didn’t laugh. They liked the criminal ventures of Razor and Blondie. I’ve been studying the craft of fiction writing since.

  • What is your favorite genre to write?

Crime fiction. Creating criminal characters, a duo or team, with particular skills that, combined, can accomplish an impossible, illegal feat for the good of other people or even a community – that gives me exquisite pleasure.

  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

Those who know my works of crime and dark fiction will likely not believe this. And my ex girlfriends and wife will probably burst out laughing (and pointing). I’ll tell you anyway: romance. It would have action, some dark plotting, though the primary subject in the storyline would be the relationship of a man and woman. I actually have an outline scribbled out. It’s terrible. It’s intimidating.

  • Please tell us about your book.

Her Name Is Mercie is a noir feature in a collection of short stories. Mercie is a college educated gas station attendant that lives with her parents in a small town in South Mississippi. In general she is content, has no ambition to become Someone, even if knowing her life has little meaning. Then her parents are shot to death by police officers during a traffic stop, and she discovers meaning through loss. Possessing no skills to take action she does anyhow, and finds the people responsible for her folks’ deaths are not innocent, they were not only doing their jobs – they were doing something else under the guise of legitimacy. Mercie loses control after the discovery.

  • Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

The protagonist, Mercie, was initially based on someone I know and love. She did not care for the story. So I changed Mercie’s character and the events of the story. I made it darker. At that point the antagonists were in my head all the time, the main one for sure. Which is became my new focus, my new favorite, the orchestrator. A sneaky, unsuspecting one. Very innocent in appearance. Very deadly in reality. My least favorite? One of the police officers was, at points, hard to write. To get my thoughts aligned with. Sick dude.

  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Finishing it! The publisher loved Mercie and two other short stories I submitted, though wanted more to flesh out a book. I was given a deadline. My first one. I had to write Libby’s Hands and Hunger with that looming. I was feeling it, the time constraint. Felt the carrot dangling and the stick prodding. And did some good work, I think, for it.

  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I jot down ideas on paper. Sometimes it’s just a title and that takes shape into an event with a story surrounding it. Sometimes banter with other convicts seeds a story idea, and I’ll scratch out notes. I always write a first draft by hand, then type it on a phone. Google Docs are the center of my little world these days.

  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

There are five stories in Her Name Is Mercie. The first two were done in about a month during the 2016 holiday season. Mercie is longer and was done in bursts spaced out for about a year – I was attempting to market my crime thriller trilogies published with New Pulp Press and started a few other dark fiction projects. I completed the book Mercie in February 2018.

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

It’s difficult to stay in Create mode and get the entire story out before Edit mode kicks in. I’ll write between one to five pages then go back through it. I’ll move on once I’m satisfied. Periodically I’ll read what I have of the story and make adjustments, get new ideas, scratch out others. When the story is done I proof it numerous times and ask family and friends to test drive it, hit me between the eyes with their opinions.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

I don’t know… I do know I would be grateful if anyone reads it and likes it so much they demand more works with the same characters. You know, the ones still, alive.

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I started writing because I need money for a lawyer. I wrote for all these years and have three publishing contracts. So far I’ve received one royalty check. It wasn’t enough to retain an attorney. It was enough to get some Nutty Bars and Ramen noodles.

Just because you get published does not mean you will make money. Most books don’t get published. A small percentage of published works make sales – the competition is vast and the books selling have money behind them, usually because the authors are very marketable and have cash to throw around. You can have a spectacular book on the market, on Amazon, etc… and no one knows it’s there.

To new authors, be prepared for this. If you are seeking status, it could be a long journey with nothing but disappointment. If you are a true Writer, then fulfillment through passion is yours to enjoy every single day.

  • Why should everyone read your book?

There’s something for everyone. Thrills, chills, kills, action and humor. The characters are varied and engaging. The plots are jabs in the face with an unseen tickle. My best works, this collection.

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Elmore Leonard. I just finished all the seasons of Justified and have found myself daydreaming about talking to that guy, mostly listening. He’s the kind of person I would shut up and listen to.

Elka Ray – have you read her psychological suspense novel Saigon Dark? High impact crime fiction. She’s a serious writer, and I believe she’s going places.

Greg Barth. I was on his show Noir on the Radio in 2017 to talk about Shocking Circumstances, a thriller I wrote in first-person female. Very difficult. Greg wrote Selena, a successful violent, sexual noir series in first-person female. After the show he sent me books 1 and 2. They are very good. I saw similarities, and got ideas that made me want to rewrite mine, after some research and further character studies.

  • What inspired you to write your book?

I still need a lawyer…

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

Waste Management is up next. Not sure of the publication date, maybe next year. It’s very dark. I’ll let it speak for itself. Here’s an excerpt:

She refused to open her mouth.

The man’s head tilted, nostrils puffing. He shook an aerosol can, squinting. Rocks popped under boots darkened and creased with use, threads stretching. He sprang into a turn, legs like columns of stone thudding oversized Red Wings across the service drive to the waste management truck.

The utility box opened, gloved hand slipped in and retrieved an item. The compartment clicked shut. He returned to the girl.

Fright – pure and intense – pushed out her stare as he approached. He stopped close enough that she felt his breath, a foul, hot gas shrouding the cold tears on her cheeks. He held up a red straw and inserted it into the can without error. In a blink his leather palm rammed into her forehead, immobilizing her face. Vision swimming, she could no longer see him. She held her breath as the pressure of his increased, eyelids squeezed tight. She felt the straw enter, slide into her throat.

He pulled it out.

Her scream was muffled by industrial grade adhesive, dull yellow bubbles of foam glue roiling from lips working to eject it.

The man stood back. Slipped the can in a pocket of his coveralls. Light gathered on his irises, wicked pulse matching his puffing nose. He caressed her throat, thumb rubbing over the spiking carotids.

Her back rose sharply, locking into a stiff arch. Eyes stuck wide. The moment passed with his nostrils flared. A tremble passed over his skin. He squeezed, hard.

Blink.

 His hand relaxed. The other clenched into a fist. A single blow to her chest made her pulse return. Her eyes closed.

He tore her loose and dropped her on the pavement next to a storm drain. The backs of her hands stuck to the service exit, foam blooming from pink skin like an exotic display at a high end art gallery.

From a sheath strapped to his leg he pulled a long pry bar. Opened the storm drain and looked in. The walls of the new office complex took on a hollow rush of water. He tapped the pry bar on the thick iron lid next to his boot. Straightened, pivoted to assess the infected target.

The girl folded her arms, violent shaking commandeering the muscles in her jaw, shoulders and legs. Hair plastered to one cheek, it matched the tones in the foam mounded on her lips, now hardened.

He struck her. The pry bar bit deep into her pelvis, shattering it. Her eyes shot open. The alley hummed with anguish, her throat swelling. He dropped the tool. The steel rang inches from her ear. Core consumed by fire of mortal trauma, her obscured awareness turned completely black. The man loomed, a mountain of darkness, boots creaking on the sides of her ruined hips.

Mucus sprayed as he sat down, can of adhesive once more in hand. He inspected the straw. Slid it deep into her nose and sprayed. His nostrils puffed in sync with the arteries in her neck, bulging under his thumb.

The violent shaking in her limbs became thrashing, spine jerking side to side. Her hands, dwarfed by his gloved grip, pushed at the can. Limited edition peep toes dug for purchase on the wet pavement behind him, heels grinding down.

Pry bar in hand, standing, he tossed the can into the drain. Then struck her again. Like a boxer finishing a punch drill, fists thundering into a heavy bag, the man battered her hips. Before she suffocated, her heart failed again. The rain of steel continued, eating away the joints.

His eyes moved to her shoulders. His arms adjusted, freakish mass swinging the tool hard. The roof above turned a deep violet, dusk passing into night.

The pace of the strikes never slowed. Slight turn of his boots, and he pounded away at her neck. He stopped as if completing a precise count. Sheathed his tool and stomped down on her chest. Gloved hands wound through her long hair and pulled up. Skin elongated. Snatch, cartilage, vertebrae crackling. Tossed it into the drain. Grabbed an arm.

Limbs washed away, he kicked the torso. Log rolled it over to the runoff of Spring rain. Picked it up, squishing, her bloody clothes rubbing on him, adding to the spatter layered up and down his old coveralls. Turning her vertical, he dropped the corpse into the drain.

***

From the wall next to the service exit, another girl watched. The tips of her fingers picked at the hard glue that bound her to the faux granite. Her lips wrinkled and spasmed, instinct fighting the poisonous invasion adhering to the soft tissue of her mouth and throat.

She kept looking to her right. A glob of hard foam mounted her head to the wall, though if she strained she could glimpse the door knob; she knew, any moment now, the manager would step out for a smoke and…

Save me! Oh my motherfuck, save me! Sasha… what just happened to Sasha? Oh my fucking Jesus!  

Her eyes darted left. Rolled back as searing pain ripped up her arms, down her back. The man sacked her over a shoulder and looked around. He blurred into a fast walk.

The girl’s legs flopped against him, urine running off her heels, squiggly patterns darkening the pavement behind the truck.

About the Book

Title: Her Name is Mercie

Author: Chris Roy

Genre: Thriller, Noir, Horror

Purchase: Amazon

Roy delivers on the edge of your seat storytelling with rough edges, crooked cops and a tiny light at the end of the tunnel that is never quite extinguished.

Tom Vater, co–founder of Crime Wave Press.

Her Name Is Mercie is a fast furious ride into an inferno of the highest tension you are likely to encounter this year. Where noir meets thriller, toss a coin. Dive in. And unplug your phones, pcs tablets and keep reading deeper and deeper, until the final pages.

Richard Godwin, author of Apostle Rising.

Mercie Hillbrook lives a simple, quiet life working as a gas station attendant. Then her parents are killed. Her home is taken. The people responsible are excused for just doing their job. When an attempt to get justice her way lands her in trouble with the law, Mercie realizes she still has something to lose: her own life.

Then she finds reason to believe her parents were murdered… and she doesn’t care anymore

Comments

  1. This is really great. Thanks for posting.

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