Nickname–The Kentucky Cannibal
I give a speech where I talk about ‘Where do you get your ideas.”
The answer is usually…from research.
I’m researching a current book and I run across weird tidbits that give me chills or make my eyes go wide, or make me ask, “Did this REALLY happen?”
Such is the reaction I got when I read about Boone Helm. The Kentucky Cannibal. Serial Killer of the Wild West. YIKES.
He got his nickname for, and I quote, “His opportunistic and unrepentant (I don’t know who I’m quoting you understand, who said this???) consumption of human flesh.
He came from, by all reports, a fine family (but there must’ve been SOMETHING, yeesh!) Maybe not. Maybe he was just bad!!!
He was from a family of twelve children, so that’s a BIG family but, being from a family of eight, I like to think large families and murderous insanity don’t necessarily go hand in hand. (I hope! So far so good!)
Married at age twenty, by age twenty-two he was divorced in an era that did not make that easy. His wife being regularly beaten must’ve helped. Boone Helm’s FATHER paid for the divorce so the wife must’ve had some sympathy. In retrospect she was probably lucky to get out of the marriage ALIVE. And they had a daughter. WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE TO HAVE HIM FOR A FATHER???
Helm abandoned his family (thank you Jesus!) and pretty much cut a swath of robbery and murder across the west for the next thirteen years. He was twice convicted and sentenced to death only to escape through once, feigning madness (although who knows, he probably was mad, but still that doesn’t mean you don’t watch him closely right???) And once by convincing his brother to pay off a scad of witnesses…buy their silence.
After which he went home with his brother and then set out killing and robbing again. He boasted of the men he’d eaten to outlaw friends. Including once eating a man’s leg, then cutting off his other leg because he had a long journey and needed food.
OKAY that wasn’t my point really, I just found him such a ghastly character I had to write about him but….I’m toying with the idea of having him be a bad guy for a book. Or a fictionalized, slightly less hideous version because in this case, I seriously can’t handle the truth.
What do you think? What if I have a heroine and this guy is her father. Hoone Belm’s daughter!!! What if you were little Letitia Belm and you headed west only to find your long gone father is the most notorious, vicious criminal ever to roam the frontier?
Is it too much?
Like I said, I’m just toying with it. But wow, what a lunatic. What a character. How could you live it down?
She needs to marry a lawman, huh? That’d be a fine conflict between them.
Anyway, where do ideas come from? It’s from stuff I read like this.
What’s the craziest REAL LIFE character you’ve ever heard of. In this case, mine is one of those…what’s that saying? I’m fumbling for it. Something like…Fiction is harder than a true story, because fiction has to make sense.
I’ve updated my website and I really love it. Go have a look if you’ve a mind to. Mary’s Website
Let’s talk crazy characters!!!