Emily Ross received a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist award in fiction for her novel Half in Love with Death. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Boston Magazine, Menda City Review, and The Smoking Poet. She is an editor and contributor at Dead Darlings, a website dedicated to discussing the craft of novel writing. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Massachusetts Boston, and is a 2012 graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program.
From her Q & A with Louise Miller at the Debutante Ball:
What was the inspiration for your novel?Visit the official Emily Ross website.
The word inspiration makes me think of a bolt out of the blue, but that’s not how it happened for me. I was struggling with plotting my novel, Half in Love with Death, when my sister suggested I turn to a true crime for inspiration, and not just any crime. She confided in me that when she was twelve she’d been obsessed with the disturbing case of, Charles Schmid, ‘the pied piper of Tucson.’ My sister’s interest in this crime I’d never heard of came as a complete surprise to me. But when she showed me an old but still chilling Life Magazine article about this case, I could see why it had transfixed her so many years ago.
In 1964, Schmid, killed Aileen Rowe, 15, and buried her in the desert. A year later he killed 17-year-old Gretchen Fritz (his girlfriend), and her sister Wendy, 13. He was handsome, popular, and he was a serial killer. My sister and I rarely talk about our difficult teen years, but as we discussed this case we remembered that there had in fact been a serial killer in our midst as well. He hung out in Provincetown with many of our friends in the sixties. He studied Buddhism and seemed like a cool dude, but he murdered several teen girls in 1969. My friends who knew him had no idea what he was capable of. No one did. I shivered to think how easy it would have been for something terrible to have happened to one of us. In light of this, my sister’s early preoccupation with Schmid seemed almost prescient.
As I read more about Schmid, I realized aspects of the crime aligned with themes I was already exploring in my novel. I also learned that he murdered the two sisters on August 16th—my birthday. I’m kind of...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Half In Love With Death.
Writers Read: Emily Ross.
My Book, The Movie: Half In Love With Death.