Interview by Carl Varga for 412C
It is difficult to corner “No Family For Cannibals” author Aaron K Smith for an interview. He is a busy man, who in addition to writing fiction, also writes non-fiction essays and, oddly enough, invents magic tricks. We are sitting next to a green screen in his studio.
412C: No Family For Cannibals contains elements from hit TV shows such as Criminal Minds, Hannibal, Law and Order, True Detectives, and even Sherlock Holmes, but your book is in many ways the opposite of those shows in terms of the way you use the characters. Was that on purpose?
Aaron K Smith: Absolutely. I use well-known literary devices created by those shows to make the reader feel comfortable, and then we go for a ride. It is a technique that allowed me to make the text flow more like a TV episode than a novel, especially in regards to length. The characters cover a lot of ground fast.
412C: The story, especially when combined with the website, feels real to me. There must be some truth to it. What inspired the story?
Aaron K Smith: My plots always originate with a single question. No Family For Cannibals came about not from the perspective of the murders, but rather the method used to solve the crime. I thought, “What if the FBI were so secretive the American people thought the organization was the figment of J. Edgar Hoover’s imagination.” Over time, that was refined to what you see presented in the books. The storyline is complete fiction.
412C: James Roach has a hell of a sense of smell.
Aaron K Smith: He prefers Roach, just Roach. His sense of smell is actually based on my own olfaction. I have an acute sense of smell. For example, the other day my wife and I were in a storage shed. I told her that I smell a mouse. Not totally exceptional—they do leave a scent trail—but I said, “the mouse recently had babies.” I followed my nose, and under some boxes we found a nest with a mom and her newborn baby mice.
412C: That’s incredible! Glad I used deodorant.
Aaron K Smith: [sniffs the air] You use CertainDri? That’s an antiperspirant made for chronic hyperhidrosis. Sorry to hear that.
412C: Creepy! But cool (and correct I might add). Episode one leaves with a massive cliffhanger. I honestly have to admit I have no idea if the main suspect is guilty or not. I don’t want it to be him.
Aaron K Smith: You will notice the Amazon listing actually comes with a cliffhanger warning. TV viewers understand they are not going to get the whole arc in a single television show. The story evolves over the season. The same is true with No Family For Cannibals. As far as likability is concerned, throughout history some of the most infamous serial killers are quite charming and likable.
412C: Do we find out for sure if it was Roach in Episode Two?
Aaron K Smith: Without a doubt you will know definitively if Roach is the killer. And it will not be subtle.
412C: Who is the artist that draws Roach’s illustrations?
Aaron K Smith: I draw Roach’s illustrations, except for the Andreas Vesalius etchings from “De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem.” The toe is modeled after my oldest son’s big toe. The cover is an actual picture of his toe. It is still attached in real life.
412C: It really looks like a severed toe. Does Heather Banks stay in the story as Roach’s love interest.
Aaron K Smith: Heather has a huge part in the next two episodes. She is pivotal to the plot.
412C: Any talks about No Family For Cannibals being turned into a miniseries in the future? It screams HBO.
Aaron K Smith: I pictured it as more of live theatre. Especially Season Two next year, which will have a lot of decapitation. Beheadings play big on stage.
412C: I will definitely be there for that.
Aaron K Smith: Great! Bring your head.