Books & Talks

Everybody’s Favorite Serial Killer

The author of the Dexter book series tells us why his sociopath is so darn lovable.

By Hannah Bostwick September 13, 2010


“Everybody’s favorite serial killer” isn’t something you hear every day—or ever, for that matter. But author Jeff Lindsay has made this highly disturbing paradox somewhat acceptable with his five-book series about lovable murderer Dexter Morgan. The man behind the maniac—in Seattle on Friday for a book signing—let’s us in on the reason people can stomach, and perhaps even savor, the sociopath who inspired the hit Showtime series Dexter.

Why do you think people like Dexter (despite his murderous tendencies)?

In the first place, he’s charming and funny and likable. But he also makes observations from an outsider’s perspective. He doesn’t see himself as human, so he can talk about us in a way that is fresh and provide a perspective of us we don’t see all the time. And then, only killing people who really deserve it takes away some of those barriers.

Does the TV show stay faithful to the books?

I really like the show, and they don’t pay me enough to lie about that either. But they are in their own direction now. The books and the show are parallel universes, and I’m fine with that. It’s television—you do things differently there.

How do you think Michael C. Hall, the actor who plays Dexter, is doing with the character you created?

When they told me they were casting him, I went back and watched a few episodes of Six Feet Under. I instantly said, “He’s totally wrong. Get somebody else.” But he was already committed, and here I was ready for the sky to fall—another writer getting screwed by a terrible adaptation. But the first day on the set I walked by him five times going, Where’s Michael? You would swear it’s two different actors. It was an extraordinary transformation. The first line I heard him say I thought, Oh my gosh. That’s it! He speaks the lines in the rhythms I wrote them in. He’s an incredible actor.

In your most recent book, Dexter is experiencing some major life changes, most notably the birth of his daughter. How does this affect his propensity to kill?

He sees his daughter and thinks, I want to be different. I don’t want to be Dark Dexter anymore. But that’s a conflict because he needs to kill—it’s not a choice. I think of it kind of as a teenager and sex. He gets caught and says, “Oh I’ll never do it again" …until he does.

Will Dexter be back for a sixth book?
I’m already about halfway through it. In the next book, he’s dealing with someone who’s apparently copying all his techniques. He’s trying to frame Dexter and take over. Each book takes him a little further on his journey, and things are constantly changing. I don’t have some big master plan of what will happen—it just progresses naturally.

Lindsay will sign his fifth book in the Dexter series, Dexter Is Delicious, on Friday, September 17, at noon at Seattle Mystery Bookshop. This event is free.

Filed under
Show Comments