Erin Banks is an autistic Northern German-born author with Scandinavian and American roots, who started her writing career on CrimePiper, a blog about True Crime and Psychology.
She wrote the female serial killer Horror Thriller “ABOUT RAGE,” the True Crime book “Ted Bundy: Examining The Unconfirmed Survivors,” and has contributed to several other authors’ works in different genres, such as Horror, True Crime, Fantasy, Poetry and Mental Health. She will be featured in several more authors’ books in the near future and is working on the sequel to her debut novel.
ABOUT RAGE is the story of the journey and inner workings of vicious female serial killer Emily Sand. It bridges the gap between action-laden, fast-paced psychological Horror Thriller and exploration of questions revolving around morality, humanity and accountability in relation to killers, drawing parallels to infamous True Crime cases, such as Ted Bundy's.
Who is the protagonist and who the antagonist in this tale? Should we trust the unreliable narrator - the killer - or the stranger with shadowy motives who suddenly appears in her life? Is he watching, or watching over her?
Emily soon not only finds herself in the ever-present company of her "secret weapon" - the Rider, who resides in the bottomless pit that once replaced her soul - but of those she had never dared hope she could share her true self with, amongst them a therapist. Can she trust them though? The more Emily discovers about the betrayals of her past and present, the more she realizes she must battle a seemingly omnipotent enemy.
Enjoy the soundtrack for ABOUT RAGE on Spotify, YouTube, and most other available platforms (written and composed by Peter Douglas and Erin Banks).
ABOUT RAGE. Excerpt from chapter 5, “The Marriage Of Passion And Pain.”
ISBN: 979-8359985482; 333 pages, publication date: October 24, 2022
“…The girls are still sobbing hysterically, each of them comically holding on to their own torsos. They’re a few feet apart, glancing back and forth between each other and the knife on the ground.
“I won't do it.” Grace pants. “I can't kill my friend.”
Charity’s swollen eyes cannot hide the calculation flaring up in them, a split second before she scrambles to pick up the blade. Called it.
Our finger finds another button on the console in front of us, and a portion of the wide wooden cabinet slowly opens. As it reveals its contents to the corpse-brides-to-be, they gasp in unison. We take their reaction as a compliment. It really is an extraordinarily neatly arranged array of torture instruments.
Eyeing each other suspiciously, the girls’ sobs come less frequently now. We planted the seed of distrust between them. They will water it themselves.
“C-can I just get a hug?” Grace hiccups eventually. Is that her ploy? – Should Charity agree, will Grace reach for the closest knife at hand from the kill cabinet behind her and literally stab her friend in the back? Charity looks as though she were pondering the same thing. Finally though, her shoulders slouch, the blade clutters to the ground. “I can't do it. I know I can be…but I’m just not...”
“Then...let's not do this,” Grace concludes with relief. “Let's be in this together. As sisters. Chances are she's going to kill me or you anyway if one of us kills the other. We stand a better chance if we work together.”
Ah. The bargaining stage.
Charity steps around her friend, closer to the two way mirror. “You hear that, you sick freak? We won't do it!” she shouts.
Well, this is regrettable. We watched someone starve to death in one of our other kill rooms before but it’s a slow and mostly boring process, during which you have to supply the victim with water to make sure they’ll wither over a few weeks, rather than days. And we’re really just not feeling it right now with these two.
We sigh and heave ourself out of the chair, biting down on our lip as the pain shoots through our hip. Our narrow pelvis bone, once broken in two places, reminds us of how far we have come in life. It’s still tying Emily to her past, cautioning both of us to never forget where the Rider had come from, and that vulnerability is only ever a lack of preparation, the consequence of a lazily trustful mind.
We yank out a gun from underneath the console, quickly checking the safety, and enter the tunnel.
Their cries swell to a chorus as Charity is forced to strip for us, before being tied to the chair sitting atop the hole, the basement below the basement. In a flash of genius, we realized what to use her clothes for later on, and neatly fold them up, placing them in the far corner of the tunnel, lest they get sullied.
Our own heart, relentless and quick like a tribal drum, provides the beat to this exquisite soundtrack of terror. It is spiraling down, down, down between our legs, to a pit just as vicious and voracious as the Rider’s.
The stainless steel knife handle is smooth and cool in our hand when we pick it up. It's an average WMF butcher knife that Emily once bought on the recommendation of a church friend. The Germans are experts at crafting long-lasting quality tools for cooking and killing, indeed.
We can’t but close our eyes in reverence, because we remember so vividly the things this knife has done for us. Yes, this knife has sliced, cut and fucked large red holes into already bent and broken bodies. We’ve pleasured ourself with the bloody handle too. For the record, Emily is averse to swearing, but the Rider has his own will and life, and once we are one, there’s no accounting for any bad language.
Quickly, we trace the knife across Charity’s cheek. For a moment, there's nothing but an empty gash. Blood can be awfully shy. But once it starts pushing through the wound, Grace cries, “Oh!” before burying her face in her hands.
“Oh!” we imitate her hoarsely, adding, “Will you look at that!”
Charity seems yet too perplexed to dare utter a sound. Her eyes are turned inward, as if trying to determine how severe the wound is by focusing on the sensation of the steady flow of blood oozing from it.
“We want you to watch this, Grace.”
“Who is she talking about?!” Charity gulps, her eyes darting back and forth between us and Grace.
“I-I don’t know, maybe she’s psychotic,” Grace whimpers. Now, that’s a big word for a community college mattress, kudos!
“Grace,” we laugh softly. “If you keep looking away, you won’t get the chance to save her anymore.”
“What do you want me to do in order to save her?”
A sly smile lifts our cheeks. “But we already told you. The only way to save her is to kill her.”
To emphasize the meaning of our words, we hook a finger into the side of Charity’s mouth. One swift cut and her face is beautified by half a Glasgow smile. This time, with her senses heightened, body on high alert due to the earlier knife attack, Charity feels the pain at once. She's screaming at the top of her lungs, which gives us the opportunity to slash at the other corner of her mouth to complete the Glasgow smile. Her mouth is a gaping red hole. She looks like a creature from the Predator movies.
“What is wrong with you?! Why are you like this!” Grace howls while Charity's eyes are rolling back in her sockets, head bobbing back and forth in an attempt not to faint.
We grab her limp cheek flesh between two fingers, wiggling it back and forth a bit, eliciting more low pitched groans from Charity. “It's like she's a ventriloquist's dummy!” In a mock male voice we continue, “E.T. phone home,” before bursting into a happy laughter.
“You're insane... you're insane...” Grace whispers to herself.
We understand. Humans do that. They call others names in order to elevate and separate themselves from them. She’s trying to confirm that she is still sane after witnessing what she has.
“Come here.” Just as we wonder whether it is fear or courage prompting her to take a few hesitant steps in our direction, we smell the urine before we see it. There’s our answer. The bitterness of it mingles with the metallic stench of fresh blood.
We pull her into us by her belt, wrapping our arms around her midsection, one bloody finger pressed to her quivering lips.
“Lick it off,” we whisper in her ear as our lips brush against her soft skin. We enjoy that it erupts in goosebumps too, little flesh bubbles of fear made corporeal.
“No,” Grace bawls, her head almost violently falling onto our shoulder. An act of passive rebellion.
“She's counting on you to save her.”
Her jaw unclenches, accepting our offering. “That's it, let us in,” we whisper, resting our forehead against her cheek. Naturally, she gags once the blood hits her taste buds.
We pout at her. “It’s an acquired taste. Do you know what that means?”
She’s confused, shakes her head.
“It means you can acquire that taste if you try. Close your eyes.”
Upon her doing so, we kiss her. It takes a few whispered promises in between until we finally feel her respond to our kisses. Her eyes close, she relaxes, even if only slightly. She is in the moment. That is the vulnerability, the level of trust, we needed from her.
“We’re going to rape you now,” we smile tenderly, our face inches from hers. Let the words sink in. We can tell the message doesn’t immediately compute in her brain, takes even longer to reach her heart.
“You’re a woman, you can't rape me,” she sputters. Her voice is just a tad more high-pitched on the last word, revealing her uncertainty as much as her words reveal her unoriginality.
We don’t know how many hours we spend with Grace and her friend in the tunnel. At the end of it all, we lie in pools of coagulated blood on the floor, whose coldness we barely feel in our state of overheated exhaustion from pleasure.
We cannot form a coherent thought, struggle to remember the correct order of events that unfolded, and just let go, allowing individual, unfiltered images to wash over us.
Charity’s breast leaking a gel-like substance after we’d retracted the knife. Silicone. A novum for us, and another memory to call upon whenever we’d need a good laugh.
Another flash of Grace’s head between a dead Charity’s legs, obeying our orders.
A corpse’s fingers inside us, a flash of bright light before our eyes when the Rider climaxes.
And another. Grace screaming, “Why are you killing us?”
It was that particular wording that made us look up at her. Her having accepted her fate. We’re not going to lie, we had hoped that she might have something poignant to offer when we asked her, “Why not?”
Expectations are fertile ground to disappointment, thus resentment. And so her frantic ramblings only served to enrage us further.
“You can't play God like this.”
“It's just wrong,” Grace had whimpered.
“Why? Is a lion wrong for slaying a gazelle?”
“The lion doesn’t enjoy this!”
We had chuckled then. “Yes, they do. Seals rape baby otters to death. Cats play mice to death and leave them to rot, undevoured.”
“But,” Grace had scrambled to argue, “but why do I have to be the gazelle?”
“Because you are not the one who lured us to your abode today with the intent of killing us. Because you did not even entertain the idea of throwing any of the knives or other weapons from the cabinet at us as soon as we stepped inside this room.”
“Oh my God, oh my God, please save me,” she had feebly cried.
“What God are you calling upon?” we’d asked. “Odin convinced one of his followers to tie his daughter, Rindr, to her bed so he could rape her. The Biblical god murdered the entire world with a flood. Gods have demanded blood sacrifices, abortion, stoning, hanging, incest. Have you not read the so-called holy books? Gods are monsters. I see none of them stepping down from their divine thrones to stop us. It would appear they are either not powerful enough to do so or applaud us. Were we not created in their image, after all?”
She’d started murmuring something to herself. A prayer? We’d approached her to spy on her most private conversation between her and her delusion of an invisible friend.
Only, she had murmured, “Mommy, mommy, I’m coming” over and over. We understood. Still asked. “Is your mother dead?”
“She’s an angel,” Grace had whispered, an otherworldly, far too peaceful smile on her face.
“What did your mommy die of?” We’d asked in mock concern.
“She died of cancer,” she simply breathed, no tears following that statement. That had irked us even more, the audacity of depriving us of her passion in that way.
“So you watched her suffer. Possibly over multiple years. You’re cruel, Grace.”
Grace’s objection came in a whisper. “No. No, I was never cruel. I never would have harmed my mother in any way. I wanted her suffering to end.”
We had her.
“And if you look at your friend here now? Knowing that in just mere seconds we will ram this knife up her vaginal cavity, does that make you want to save her? Or will you let her die like you let your mother die?”
Her eyes went blank. She was ready.
The first stab had accidentally punctured Charity’s lung, prompting her to spew up blood. She was drowning in her own human life juices, an irony we much appreciated. For we all do not live but die our lives.
But rather than shrink away, Grace had put her foot onto the seat of the chair between Charity’s legs, pulling the blade out of her friend's breast plate with such vigor that it trembled like a leaf of grass in the wind. Stabbing, stabbing again, as Charity kept spitting blood. Despair had given way to rage when Grace roared, “Why won’t you die already, die! Die!”
Now she was starting to understand…”
The Tough Questions
• Where is your favorite place to write? Read? In bed.
• What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little I wanted to be a Comanche warrior, and a few other curious things such as Buddhist nun, but from my teen years onward I wanted to be a writer.
• What is one thing you need when you sit down to write? My glasses.
• What is one tip you would like to share with an aspiring author?
Find your own routine. Most authors I know do struggle with mental health, and many struggle with substance use or abuse to whatever degree. We’re artists, we’re all insane in our own way. I’ve said this in other interviews, as an autistic person with other co-morbidities, I can’t always write every single day and being forced to do so would end in nothing but meltdowns. Other authors, regardless of how big, don’t live with your brain, they don’t know or live your life, and don’t write your stories, so they don’t get to have a say in how you run the show. Learn what you need so as to be an effective writer, and of course that can include experimenting with other people’s suggestions. But trust yourself over anyone else.
• Are you a pantser or plotter?
I’m more of a pantser. The characters write the story, for the most part, I am the one who fills in the gaps, so there will be some plotting in that sense. They show me a scene, and it’s for me to work out how to get there. I already know how ABOUT REVENGE ends, and have caught a few glimpses into future chapters and events, but only when I sit down and go into this strange writing trance can I suddenly combine it all.
I think it’s fantastic when people can plot, it’s an incredible talent and gift to have. What instantly makes me dislike someone is when they are being arrogant about it. I recently stumbled across a Fantasy author’s lengthy post about the “myth of writer’s block,” which was filled with condemnation and hyperbole. I didn’t read more than a few sentences of it, as I have no time for close-minded people. I wish them the best and never engage again.
From BOH reader Heather L.
• Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
I’m always more interested in the villains and their motives. The villain is the hero of the other side, they say, right?
• DC or Marvel and why is it Marvel?
I don’t really watch superhero movies. I watched Antman because I think Corey Stoll plays a fantastic villain, and I always pictured him playing Rob (a character in my novel) when I fantasized about what an ABOUT RAGE movie would look like.
• You need to hide a body - who do you call to help you?
That’d be a rookie mistake. No calls, no texts, no taking your cell phone with you when hiding the body, no traces.
• Favorite song to belt out in the shower?
I don’t sing in the shower, but my characters often talk to me in the shower, showing me the next few scenes, or any random future scene I’ll somehow have to connect to prior story lines.
• What animal would you be and why?
A honey badger. They’re ferocious, fearless, resourceful, and relentless. They’re complete monsters.
• If you were stranded on a deserted island with all your human needs taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?
A boat and a book on how to navigate that thing. I love my alone time but I also love people; a deserted island wouldn’t be to my liking.
• Next project (what are you currently working on)?
A horror short story for an anthology, a horror novella for another anthology, and ABOUT REVENGE, the sequel to ABOUT RAGE. I’m also always writing poems on the side, as the mood strikes, for “About Rage – The Poetry” that will be published together with the third and last book, probably in 2025.
• Scary movies - complete darkness or all the lights on?
Lights out for mundane horror movies (serial killer-related, for instance), and full daylight for any supernatural ones, which I rarely watch.
• Who would you stalk?
I surmise you can say I stalked people in relation to the True Crime cases I study. So I found some rarer photos and information about investigators, judges, victims – to breathe life into their stories as people rather than just victims. I’ve also looked into their and the offenders’ families. It gives one a different and more complete outlook on these cases, makes them feel more real, in a way. Of course I never publicize anything personal of what I find on living people, in order to keep them safe from harassment, which is a large issue in True Crime.
With our CrimePiper blog we had to counter-stalk the stalkers, as we faced cyber-attacks, doxxing, and so forth, by people disagreeing with our work and views. I had character assassination reviews of my books written in the name of my late father, and even under my maiden name by these people, and it took a long time to remove most of them. They even had my Erin Banks Writer blog indexed by Google as a malware site. This all kept on happening after I left True Crime to focus on Horror and other fiction writing, so they are quite relentless.
• What inspired you to start writing?
My dad always encouraged me to write and be creative in any way. I blogged because I was never sure enough of myself as a non-native speaker to try and publish books. But when my friend Kevin M. Sullivan, who is the top Ted Bundy author worldwide, asked me to write a chapter for his sixth book on the case, it gave me the courage to write my first book.
• How old were you when you wrote your first story?
Six. I still have one illustrated story I wrote for my parents when I was nine years old, which was surprisingly elaborate. It’s quite hilarious and very naïve, but it had some adventure and horror elements to it already, so perhaps it’s not surprising I ended up in Horror after all.
• What is your favorite book/story you wrote?
I think ABOUT RAGE will always remain my favorite book, just because there is so much of me and my life – albeit in metaphors – in it as well as its characters. It was a type of therapy to write this novel, and helped me to process some difficult events in my life, such as the death of my father, the assault I survived, and other, more interpersonal things.
My favorite short story is probably “The Goat Maiden,” as it only happened because of a meme of a taxidermied goat in a frilly dress that I sent to a group chat I’m in. We joked around about it, and I said that would make for a great Horror story. And immediately, a scene popped into my head, so I knew it had to be written. Christopher Pelton of PsychoToxin Press published it in his summer anthology “Crazy From The Heat.”
• Favorite horror movie?
The House That Jack Built.
• Favorite book of all time?
I mentioned Jane Eyre in so many other interviews, so I’ll give you a newer favorite of mine, “Bones and All” by Camille DeAngelis. They turned it into a movie as well, but the way DeAngelis describes this insane need, this compulsion to eat human flesh, to kill, is extremely realistic.
• Favorite Band?
I’m more an individual song kind of person, but I like a lot of what Mark Lanegan has done.
From BOH reader Derek T.
• Is there a particular author that inspired you to write horror?
I skidded into Horror by pure accident, to be honest. I didn’t read much Horror until last year, and never thought that my (unpublished) short stories qualified because they were mostly not very gory, and hardly ever supernatural. I wasn’t aware of what a versatile genre Horror was. People that have been inspiring me in the last year are Ronald McGillvray, Angel VanAtta, Guy Quintero, Justin Boote and Dr. Stuart Knott.
• How do you feel about pants?
Fortunately, I live and work at home, so I hardly ever wear any. So far, I have at least remembered to put them on when leaving the house. Fingers crossed.
• Were you a good student?
As an undiagnosed autistic kid, I didn’t have the help I would have needed. So I excelled in some classes – languages, art, ethics, religion – and failed miserably in others, to the extent my teachers and parents thought I was trying to rebel and deliberately failing. They didn’t understand what special interests and “island talents,” as we call them here, are.
• Who was your childhood crush?
I was crushing hard on Gary Oldman and Jennifer Tilly.
From BOH reader Shannon E.
• Is there anything you don't eat?
Babies. Now, that’s a step too far, even for me.
• If you could have 3 wishes, what would they be?
This is where I’m supposed to say world peace, right? I won’t even lie, I’m too self-serving for that. I’d want five million dollars, tax-free, a US visa so I could live in Washington State, and lifelong health so I can write as long as possible.
• If you could have 1 hour to sit down with anyone and talk? Who would it be and what would you talk about?
I’d love to talk to my dad again and share with him all my writing and how far I’ve come in only two years’ time. He didn’t live to see me publish.
I guess a cooler answer would have been something like the Zodiac Killer, just so I would learn and be able to share his identity with the world.
• What makes you unique?
I’m radically non-judgmental. I think it’s a lost art to be able to entertain a thought or theory without judgment these days but also accept people’s experiences, lifestyles and viewpoints. Having conversed with serial killers and being the go-to person for friends and strangers alike, I have heard things that you’d probably only read in Horror or True Crime books. I hear a lot of tragedy, abuse, violence, misdeeds, moral dilemmas all day long. I can compartmentalize like hardly anyone else and that allows me to remain calm and be solution-oriented.
• What's something about you that no one else knows?
I accidentally helped start a cult when I was 19. It’s extremely small but still active, and no, I was never a member. It was a thought experiment on a drunken weekend in Sweden that someone actually wrote a book about and implemented.
• What’s Something You Want to Learn or Wish You Were Better At?
My best friend is trying very hard to teach me patience and foresight. I’m a slow learner, which only serves to illustrate her only level of patience, really.
• Know Any Good Jokes?
I don’t know many jokes, but I like learning new things. Recently, I learned about kois. They travel in packs of four. If attacked, koi a, b, and c will scatter, leaving only the d koi.
And if you didn’t get that joke, here’s an easier one: What kind of Doctor is Dr. Pepper? - A Fizzician!
• What’s Something That Bugs You?
People thinking their opinion has any value when the facts clearly negate it.
• What’s the Most Embarrassing Thing You Can Remember That’s Happened to You?
I recently had another assessment related to my autism. The interviewer asked about my insomnia, what I do to help me relax enough to sleep, and, thoughtlessly, I replied, “I don’t think you want to know.” He and my caregiver laughed uncomfortably, and it took me a few seconds to understand why. Mortified, I spat out, “No! I don’t mean THAT. I mean I listen to Ted Bundy confession tapes because the monotone voice makes me sleepy.” Silence. That was probably worse than what they had imagined, which apparently was a bit naughty. Autism is a doozy, I tell ya.
• Who Are the Special People in Your Life?
Oh, that’s a difficult one. Everyone who taught me something about myself, themselves, life and people is special to me in some way. Even the people who hurt me or whom I hurt because of incompatibility or misunderstandings, for instance. I see everything as an opportunity to learn from, a building block for happiness.
I’m also grateful to everyone who has ever helped me or shown me kindness, these are things I remember and always try to repay.
Of course my friends are all very special to me, and none is more special than both my best friend and my favorite guy friend who, if he doesn’t make me laugh like a lunatic, puts a smile on my face every day. I love them both very much.
• What’s Something You’re Proud of?
My cognitive empathy.
• If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be?
Emily Sand from ABOUT RAGE. I would just love to look into Rob’s crazed blue eyes in person, and feel the inexplicable and magical connection between these two characters.
• If you could have a superpower what would it be?
Teleportation. I think we already talked about my being self-serving, so I’ll leave it at that, lol.
• What would you do if there was zombie apocalypse right now?
I have a bug-out bag, weapons, food supplies, I know how to set up traps and clean water, and I know myself enough that I could slip into survival mode and be absolutely ruthless in order to make it to whatever the real world equivalent of The Walking Dead’s Alexandria Safe Zone would be.
• What were you like as a child?
Soft. Very soft, gentle, shy and considerate. She wasn’t built for this world, but I sure am.
Thank you Erin for stopping in and sharing your intriguing excerpt and answers to the questions. 💕
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