My Inspiration for I'll Catch You
by Jesse Kellerman
author of The Brutal Art
This book started as a joke. I was at work on something much longer and darker, and to relieve some of the mental pressure I started noodling around with an idea that had occurred to me late one night while on tour for The Executor: to write a book that functions simultaneously as a thriller and a parody of a thriller.
When I got back home, I began typing without any real plan, referring to a single page of notes scribbled on the back of my itinerary. I decided to keep the chapters short and the language terse, in the style of so many great (and not-so-great) thrillers. Other than those two rules, I told myself to let it all hang out. Nobody was ever going to see it, anyway.
Well, you know: man plans, God laughs. Before long I had about 30 pages, and I had begun referring in conversation to my “side project.” That was still how I thought of it. The main manuscript, the serious one—that was my paycheck.
Sometime in the fall of 2010, I sent the first 350 pages of Serious Book to my agent. (The fact that I can describe 350 pages with the adjective “first” ought to tell you how Very Serious it was. I was projecting a final page count of 800.) On a lark, I included the entirety of Side Project as well, then about 70 pages. My agent read both excerpts and called me up. We had a long and heated discussion about Serious Book, in which she pointed out its myriad flaws and I replied that I would not allow my artistic integrity to be threatened and so forth; the usual. It was getting ugly.
“But I love this other thing,” she said.
She didn’t need to tell me twice. I put Serious Book on hold and turned my attention fully to Side Project.
Which is not to imply that it was smooth sailing from there on out. To the contrary: it occurred to me that if I really was going to put all my eggs in one basket, that basket had better be capable of holding all the damn eggs. Meaning: I was going to have to come up with some sort of story, because until that point I’d been jotting down more or less anything that came to mind.
So I reworked, expanding my outline from one handwritten page to six. Even that felt like barely enough to begin. (The outline for The Executor, for example, was 75 typewritten pages.) But I forced myself to take a less rigid approach. What had made the side project attractive to my agent in the first place was its spontaneity. I didn’t want to lose that. I sat down with my six-page outline and began again.
The result was I’ll Catch You.
No one has been more surprised than me by the fact that I’ve become known as a writer of scary stories. Most of my early stuff, especially my plays, was comedy, and while all my novels contain comedic elements, I had long felt that I was neglecting part of myself.
In a very real sense, then, I’ll Catch You is my most personal book to date, because it’s the one that sounds the most like me, or at least like the me you’d know if you knew me. I had hell of a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you have fun reading it.
Have you read I'll Catch You? Let us know what you thought! #CatchYou