Wayne Souza was joking around with a co-worker one night, commiserating about a supervisor who had just chastised the pair, and used a not-altogether uncommon expression: “I’m going to kill you.”
Souza didn’t mean it, of course, but the exchange planted a seed that has grown into “The Poetic Killer,” the Cranston resident’s first novel. The protagonist and bad guy of the story is Benjamin, who is looking for love but finds rejection around every corner.
“He’s a person who is looking for love but really could never find it. He’s in love with this girl that he works with and she rejects him, so he snaps. He kills her and then he just keeps going,” Souza said.
Benjamin gets a taste for murder and quickly devolves into a serial killer. He leads a double life, by day appearing to be the same person with his circle of friends, but by night acting out his violent fantasies. Many of the characters are inspired in part by Souza’s real-life friends and family.
“Everything in the book is a half-truth,” he said. “Most of the inspiration for this book came from situations that occurred in my life.”
The 44-year-old Souza leads a double life too, working a full-time job as a receiver at an electric supply warehouse and then spending his free time writing.
With each victim, Souza’s Benjamin leaves a poem, which is not surprising, because the author has long enjoyed writing poetry. He first began writing in a musical capacity, writing songs for his former band. When that project wrapped up, he tried his hand at poetry. Writing a book was born out of that passion.
“I never considered myself a writer. When I started writing poetry, I wasn’t thinking of myself as a poet, either. When I started writing this book, I realized I was a writer,” he said.
Souza first came up with the concept in 1997, when the book is set, and has been working on it intermittently ever since.
“I just sit down and try to type. Sometimes I can go for hours; sometimes I go for just a few minutes. It’s however the mood is,” he said, adding that he listens to music to inspire him as he writes – everything from classical to Metallica. He also draws encouragement from his favorite authors, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.
Souza finished “The Poetic Killer” just this past year, and began exploring his options for publishing. Working with publishers, however, was a “discouraging” process, until he settled on Lulu.com, an online self-publishing service. He found Lulu easy to use and was pleased with how quickly the process moved, from uploading the manuscript to printing within a matter of months. He will never forget the feeling he got when he opened the package containing the paperback copy of his debut novel.
“I had an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment to see it actually in a book form. To see it in print form was just the greatest thing, especially since I’ve been working on it for so long,” he said.
His friends and family were equally excited.
“They were really happy and supportive that I was actually publishing and putting it out there,” he said.
Already, Souza has a sequel in the works, and hopes to explore different genres of writing in the future.
“I have many more ideas in my head that I want to get down,” he said. “I don’t want to be just a one-trick pony. I want to do it all.”
“The Poetic Killer” is available for purchase on Lulu.com, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.