Bret Easton Ellis Fascinated by '70s Serial Killers

Bret Easton Ellis fascinated by 70s serial killers


Over the past 40 years, the author of American Psycho has made several attempts to write this book. And he ended up doing it brilliantly.

Thirteen years after the publication of Imperial Suite(s), Bret Easton Ellis finally offers us a new novel. 

And what a novel! A cobblestone of more than 600 pages which allows us to find the whole breteastonellissien universe with, in soundtrack, the music of the 1980s which is so dear to him. But why did you keep us hanging around for so long?

“I wish I hadn't made the mistake of believing that the TV series had become the new novels,” said Bret Easton Ellis during the interview he gave us last week on the phone. I got it into my head to write screenplays and when I left New York for Los Angeles, I was convinced that was what was going to give me satisfaction. So, I chained the scenarios, but nothing really materialized. The planets didn't align for me. I was in a casino and I had no luck…”

And then there was the pandemic.

Stuck at home without having a big -something to do, he started thinking about his senior year of high school at Buckley and his friends at the time, Matt Kellner, Susan Reynolds, Thom Wright and Debbie Schaffer, who was then his appointed girlfriend. < /p>

“I don't know exactly what brought me to remember this period of my life, but it made me nostalgic for my 17 years,” continues Bret Easton Ellis. All these places that no longer exist, all these songs that haunt me… I felt pain, a feeling of loss. »

Guided by an obsession

You should know that for him, the novels start like that. With an emotion.

“I am generally connected to pain, to confusion, and to understand what is happening to me, why I have these feelings, I turn to novels, explains Bret Easton Ellis. I would not go so far as to say that they are therapies, but I suppose that it is nevertheless a little the case since once the book is finished, I feel freed from the emotions that inhabited me. »

What will also happen with The Shards, a novel that he admits having written only for himself, without worrying for a moment about his publisher or his readers. The dedication that can be seen on page 7, “For no one”, is proof of this.

“It's a book that I have carried with me for a very long time,” he says. I had already tried to write it around the age of 18, except that I did not have the maturity and the experience necessary to achieve it. On the other hand, I knew the whole story, which is 80% autobiographical. I wanted to talk about Bret's obsession with this boy seen in a movie theater at the Village Theater in Westwood when the movie Shining was released. »

An obsession that will be treated with Ellis sauce. That is to say, with a good dose of suspicion and a sadistic serial killer.

Marked by killers 70s

So back to the year 1981. Prince Charles and Lady Diana just got married, fashion is in pastel shirts worn with the collar turned up, MTV aired its first music videos. 

As for Bret and his friends, they are about to begin their final year of high school in a very chic private establishment in Los Angeles.

But this new school year will be marked by two things that, according to Bret, could well be linked: the arrival of Robert Mallory, a new kid as beautiful as he is enigmatic, and the misdeeds of the Trawler, a murderer who will leave behind several young corpses. horribly mutilated.

“In the 1970s, in California, there were serial killers everywhere,” says Bret Easton Ellis. They were always there, in the background, and I think that's why I'm so fascinated by them. Reading about Manson or the hill stranglers is scary and scary. I spoke about it to Quentin Tarantino, who says he was also marked by it in his youth. »

In the big house in Mulholland where he lives alone while waiting for his parents to return from their trip, Bret will thus gradually sink into paranoia. 

Because strangely, none of his friends will pay much attention to the Trawler… even if it will gradually come dangerously close to their lives as golden as Mister T's many necklaces.