Jeff Lindsay: "Don't Be Seduced by Dexter"

Double Dexter, the sixth book in his series, is available now online.
Don't be seduced by Dexter, says Jeff Lindsay, creator of the charming police scientist who hunts down and slices up serial killers in his spare time. He was never meant to be a crime-fighting hero.

"Some believe that Dexter cares about justice. Dexter doesn't care about justice, he cares about killing," says Lindsay, during an appearance at Marseille's Semaine Noire book festival, a week-long gathering dedicated to the thriller genre.

But then again, "he's attractive because he's dangerous".

A big, well-built 59-year-old with a greying beard, Lindsay has a dark sense of humour that's never far from the surface. It runs through the Dexter books, and the equally successful TV series of the same name.

"It's a mistake to think that Dexter is nice," he said. "He's not nice - people romanticise him. He's a serial killer. "We like him because he has a code that make us feel better about him." Dexter's code, the hook for the whole series, is that he only kills other serial killers. Read more after the jump...

Lindsay got the idea while being stiffed by an unappreciative audience - businessmen who hired him to speak on "why you should really try to read at least one book before you die", he said.

They were more interested in wisecracking among themselves, exchanging visiting cards - anything but hear him out.

"The idea came into my head that serial murder is not always a bad thing," he recalled devilishly. "So I started writing notes on the napkins."

He locked himself away for three days to create his monster - and the outline of a story. But it took almost five years to wind up the first in the series, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, in 2004.

"It's only because my wife threatened me that I finished the book."

He also credits his spouse, writer and filmmaker Hilary Hemingway - niece of American writer Ernest - with getting him started and contributing some key elements to the series.

Lindsay met Hemingway in Hollywood, where he worked for 12 years doing a bit of everything from actor, comedian to musician and playwright. It was his wife-to-be who suggested he focus on writing. "I'm lost without her," he said.

Lindsay was born Jeffry P Freundlich in Miami, Florida - which is also his famous creation's hunting ground as an analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department.

With hindsight, the Dexter formula seems a sure-fire winner but when Lindsay first tried to sell it, he got nowhere. "I didn't expect any success at all. I was rejected by every publisher in the world and every agent in town."

He was astonished when he finally closed a deal. "Writing a book about a sympathetic serial killer, what kind of sick horrible person will want to read something like that?"

But readers did. In eight years, the Dexter books have sold millions of copies in 38 countries around the world.

The actual writing can still be a struggle. While his fifth in the series, Dexter is Delicious, was finished in six weeks, Double Dexter was a "year of agony", a "small piece of hell", said Lindsay.

He works to a strict schedule back home in Florida, up everyday at 3am and writing until his three daughters aged seven, 14 and 21 wake up.

He had his doubts when first approached about the television series, admitting he originally hoped for a film. But working as a consultant on the first season, he is more than happy with the results.

"They kept asking 'What do you think?' and I usually said 'Don't forget it's funny, too'."

Most fans will agree they got that part right.

Starring Michael C Hall of TV series Six Feet Under fame, the show has also sold well around the world and picked up a string of Emmy awards, television's equivalent of the Oscars.

As a writer, Lindsay says his character - normal by day, killer by night - was designed to look at the world through a distorted lens.

"I wanted to show life and to see ourselves and our behaviour through an outsider's eye ... from the point of view of someone who knows nothing about being a human being ... He doesn't have the feelings that the rest of us do.

"What my research told me is that a psychopath cannot change. You're born like that," Lindsay said.

To whet the appetite of fans, he lets slip that he'll be killing off a member of Dexter's family in the series' seventh book.

He has not yet decided who. Or if he has, he isn't saying.


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  1. Jeff Lindsay is a crap writer... Every book has been a bad re-hash of the previous one:

    Dexter runs around going "Doakes has always suspected me of being a monster, which of course I am..." and "I said I'd teach Aator and Cody to kill but I don't want to" and "I don't want to kill, I want to turn away from the way of the knife and raise Lily-Anne properly but then as soon as the fucking epilogue comes he randomly wants to start killing again" Oh and Deb gets a new partner who get's killed... YAWN

    1. You have quite a simplistic view on the books, obviously you're not very intelligent and don't know how to read between the lines.

  2. I agree with Anonymous...

    The story need more cruel, gruesome parts.

    Dexter is just an afraid little animal, not the predator he believes he is. He's kinda good, but obviously, Jeff is not a Psycho, and can't really capture the ways of the killer.

    At least in the last 2 books, in the series he kick ass.

    Let's read Dexter 6... I'm buying it today.

  3. First of all, Brandon thanks for agreeing with me, I thought I was going to get death threats for daring to go against the status quo - the father of Dexter blah blah, but I''m sorry I have to disagree- books 3,4 and 5 were AWFUL!

    Number 4 had the silliest story possible and 5 was just dire, he literally walked around going "I love my daughter, I don't want to kill, I want to be a good man, a human... oh no, never mind I'd rather be a killer"

    and don't get my started on book 3! Where the hell did Jeff pull that one from?!

  4. its not awful at all.. from what i have read in parts are the same.. but as a whole a good read few twist. iv got a lot of time for them. why carry on reading them if you dont like them?


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