AK: I understand that Child 44 was inspired by the real-life Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. How did that come about?Read the entire interview.
TRS: I was researching “Somewhere the Shadow.” The short story is about a future world where serial killers can be rendered safe by a neuro-surgical procedure. In order to understand what that procedure might be, I had to try and find out what lay behind these crimes, how these people might be “made safe.” I stumbled across the real-life case of Andrei Chikatilo and I thought it would make the great basis for a story.
AK: Has your reading often taken you into the crime/thriller genre? And if so, what sort of books have appealed to you?
TRS: Most of my reading for Child 44 has been non-fiction, rather than, say, other thrillers. More generally, I’ve never really been particularly loyal to any genre. There isn’t any kind of book I wouldn’t read. I guess I feel a little under-read compared to many crime/thriller lovers. I’ve read everything by Thomas Harris: my copy of The Silence of the Lambs literally broke apart, I read it so many times. Thomas Harris is an incredible writer. Hannibal Lecter is a great character. I’ve also recently really enjoyed Dan Brown, Dean Koontz, Lee Child, [and] Scott Turow.
AK: What is it about serial killers that you think appeals to modern readers and filmgoers alike?
TRS: There is the puzzle element: killers leaving clues and detectives trying to piece those clues together. That side is always fun, but a serial-killer story can also cut into society in an interesting way. The case embodies something of the society in which the crimes happen -- whether its issues of racism, or corruption, or [as] in Child 44, the political ideologies of the time.