John H. Mudgett - A Twisted Tale of Horror
As a veteran of the Armed Forces, John H. Mudgett had plenty of time to read graphic true crime stories while deployed. The Idea for the protagonist, John Goodman, came to him while watching movies such as 'Sling Blade' and 'Forrest Gump' back in 1996. He would verbally tell friends and family of his "Forrest Gump" like serial killer and, after years of procrastination, decided to complete his story and share with other fans of dysfunction and abnormal behaviors. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Crazy is As Crazy Does: The Life of a Serial Killer.
Please give us a short introduction to what "Crazy is As Crazy Does: The Life of a Serial Killer" is about.
This is a graphic and horrific tale about a timid 12-year-old and how he evolves into a diabolical serial killer. Nature and nurture tormented and transformed this young man into an eccentric and ruthless killer. John Goodman describes his antic upbringing to an abducted FBI agent and a couple of other captives. He begins his tale of his first murders, and how those murders prompted him into killing others. These stories lead him into other frightful events and meetings with several true notorious killers. All the events described lead to different stages and motives that a serial killer will evolve into. From thrill-seeking to sexual assault or from a disorganized criminal into a godlike mastermind. This story is undeniably plausible, and after reading, some may consider John Goodman to be a factual person.
What inspired you to write this story?
Watching other demented movies such as Sling Blade, Copy Cat Killer, and a few others. I felt and still feel my story is more fulfilling than serial killer movies from the 80s and 90s. I started thinking about true circumstances and how they might affect an impressionable young man into killing. Sort of like Forrest Gump, only a sick and demented version. Was there something particular that made you want to tackle this? This character has been haunting me since 1996. Life circumstances kept me from writing up until a few years ago. In 2018 when the authorities arrested Joseph DeAngelo, I decided it was time to bring my character alive, as the Golden State killer is mentioned and has an active role in this book. Also the NETFLIX series Mindhunter gave me inspiration and hope that one day my character will be on the big screen.
Tell us more about John Goodman. What makes him tick?
John is a narcissist who has been getting away with murder for decades. He has no remorse or resentment for his diabolical actions. His biggest complaint is that his years of artful killing will go unnoticed. He has built a legacy and wants to share his story. All killers keep trophies and John is no exception. He can’t show them to the reader but he can describe them along with his trials and tribulations. Although some of John’s actions are horrendous in nature, he is likeable. Readers have very conflicted feelings about John.
Why did you pick 1955 as the time period for your story?
Some of the most notorious killers arose from that era. Charles Whitman, Ted Bundy, The Zodiac, John Gacy, Joe DeAngelo, James Huberty, Aileen Wuornos, Edmund Kemper, all of whom are in this book. Along with the demented likes of Jim Morrison (lead singer of the Doors).
How much research did this book require from you to make the history part of it ring true?
A limited amount, I read and heard their stories on radio and television while growing up. So the most I had to do was reacquaint myself with dates and places. What was the most interesting aspect of this research? Ensuring that the factual character stories had a place for John Goodman’s existence thus making John a true character in his own right.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I have many Dad and Uncle skills. I do mostly family oriented things: hiking, fishing, occasional skydiving, and white water rafting. AND LOTS of gardening (finger quotations)! (Wink, Wink.)
Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?
That is hard to say. I only have one main character. Karla (FBI agent) and her son William have their own backstory but I kept it concise to stay on task, which is, the evolving mind of a psychopath named John Goodman. I chose the last name Goodman as opposed to a bad man.
Interesting cover. Tell us more about how it came about.
I chose this picture because it is graphic and represents the pages within. The cover was designed by Valdas Miskinis. He was kind enough to share the history of this photo which is fitting to this book. Valdas stated he found the face somewhere in old photos of an abandoned Russian prison. It was painted on the wall by one of the residents. I had Valdas change the head from round to flat because my main character has a Flat Top haircut.
Why psychological horror?
I was psychologically abused by my step-mother and had my own thoughts of despair, luckily, I just fantasized of putting her head on a stick. (note: if you get the reference-“head on a stick”, then this book is for you). What fascinates you about the genre? How one can let their desires drive them to do unspeakable things to another human being for self-gratification with no concern for authority or retribution.
Do you plan out your stories before you start writing, or does a lot of it just "happen" along the way?
I had this story building for years. I used to keep a tape recorder with me so as thoughts came I could write them down later. I also would keep a notepad by my bed because I would wake up with morbid thoughts of John.
Why did you title this "Crazy is as Crazy Does: The Life of a Serial Killer"?
My original title was going to be: “It’s in the Blood: Trials and Tribulations of a Serial Killer” meaning that the killer instinct is in our DNA and how DNA can be traced, but as stated earlier, I claim that this is a dark and twisted “Forrest Gump” (Stupid is, as stupid does). Like Forrest, John was abused as a child, did a tour in Vietnam, influenced his own Elvis Presley, became wealthy, and although John never met any presidents, he had encounters with several notorious killers from the 1960s-1990s. Hence the name: Crazy Is, As Crazy Does.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I do not have an average writing day. I have months of nothing and then boom! Days or weeks of ideas just come pouring out. I always keep a pen and paper in my backpack and next to my bed so when the ideas start flowing I begin writing.
What are you working on right now?
Advertising! I truly believe this story stands alongside “Hannibal Lector” and NETFLIX “Mindhunter” and hopefully sooner than later the right set of eyeballs will make this into a movie. I kept this book open-ended and did not plan on writing a second story. But there is one brewing in the back of my mind for young William.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
You can find me on Amazon, Facebook, and TaleFlick..Just search John H. Mudgett you will see my book cover. Also, if you perform a google- search, you will find a press release for winning a silver medal from eLit Book Awards in their Horror Category. You can also review my official review on onlinebookclub.org: https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?t=161657. For interaction, friend me on Facebook.