Researching Torture, Murder and Other Dark Themes

Backdoor Politics Blog Tour

Cover for Backdoor Politicsby C.L. Mustafic

You really don’t want to see my search history. I keep wondering at what point the Bosnian special forces are going to come knocking on my door and start digging up my lawn to see if they can find the bodies. Yes, it’s that bad, because I had to research everything. I’m no murderer; hell, I’ve never even shot a gun, let alone killed anything with one. I don’t even like reading mystery or crime novels or watching movies or television shows with those themes, so I had not even one idea on how to write what I wanted—so off to Google!

I researched the types of torture I wanted Julien to have been instructed to use. Learning that fear and arousal sparked in the same part of the brain was probably one of my best finds. It helped to explain why Zijad would react the way he did to some of the torture. Can you imagine showing physical signs of arousal while being tortured and humiliated? That is some real mind fuckery, right there.

Murder was a whole other subject. One of the biggest questions I had, and couldn’t find an answer to on the internet, was if it was possible to snap a neck—not as easy as the movies make it look by the way—while lying on top of someone. For this particular question, I turned to one of the men in my household who has been trained in… Well, let’s just say he knows stuff. So, he’s explaining to me how it could be done, but I’m a visual learner, so I’m really not getting it.

He looks at the two children in the room and picks out the twelve-year-old, because he’s closest in size (compared to me) to be a stand in for my character. The kid lies on the floor, I take up the on top position and my hands are guided to the right position to ‘snap’ his neck. The twelve year old gets up afterward and says, “You are the weirdest mom ever.”

I told him not to tell his teachers about this. What happens in the living room stays in the living room, am I right?

That wasn’t the only time I relied on my family for research. They’re all really good sports, and didn’t even mind me measuring them to figure out the size and number of suitcases I’d need to dispose of their dismembered corpses. I really hope the government doesn’t have my house bugged.

Sexual torture was much harder to get a grip on. I researched BDSM, but knew that’s not what Kamal was doing, because there was nothing safe, sane or consensual about it. I was lucky, once again, that I had a friend who spent a lot of time researching those dark sexual themes, and I picked her brain for most of it. She was an invaluable resource for me, which is why the book is dedicated to her.

This book was the most well-researched one I’ve written so far. I hope I did a good job of keeping it as realistic as possible.

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