I love fact-based fiction, imagined stories that evolve around actual events and/or people.
The bad guy (protagonist) in FIND EDSELL! is Hans Vogel, a brilliant neurosurgeon, who begins his career in a large chronic diseases hospital in the Midwest.
That facility is based on personal knowledge because, years ago, I worked in a large chronic diseases hospital in New Jersey. It consisted of several large, dark brick buildings. There were trees and lawns and walkways, plus a small lake.
The patients were varied. There were disastrously-formed infants who grew into adulthood in a crib, unable to walk or talk. There were patients in the late stages of multiple sclerosis, others with cerebral palsy and other debilitating diseases. I worked with victims of accidents who were unable to move their arms or legs. It was a sad, haunting place; many patients would spend their entire lives in that cold, efficient hospital environment.
I knew the sights and sounds, smells and feel of that place and I used that knowledge in my book. I added a brilliant evil surgeon who discovers a way of saving lives through the death of another person. Non-essential people will die so the more important ones can live.
Got a chill yet?
The most terrifying bad guys are the ones who believe they are doing good and making the world a better place. Hitler thought he was creating a super race and look what happened. All through history we see evil on a global scale. Wars are fought and millions of people die for ideologies. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ivan the Terrible and Osama Bin Laden all thought they were doing good, making the world a better place. They did not see themselves as evil.
Vogel is such a man and in his quest, he begins preying on teen-age boys, finding those that will not be missed. He has international connections and his operation is well-hidden in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, a designated, protected International Biosphere of over a million acres of pine woods, a few creeks, a few small lakes and camp grounds.
There are dozens of legends and stories of the New Jersey Pine Barrens that tell of Jersey Devil, of witches and demons, ghosts and aliens, but I didn’t use any of that. I didn’t need it because real people can be as terrifying as witches, devils, vampires or zombies.
Just read the newspapers or listen to the evening news and you’ll see what I mean.