Dexter Morgan has come a long way since his debut in the 2004 novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. The author, 57, chats about his new novel, Dexter by Design, and the Showtime series inspired by his serial killer with a conscience.
In your last book, Dexter in the Dark, you added multiple narrators and suggested that Dexter might in fact be demon-possessed…
And a lot of people didn’t like it. ”What the hell is wrong with Lindsay? What’s he doing?” Let’s just say whatever it was, I won’t be doing that again.
How did that reaction affect your new book?
I had to rethink things. How much do I follow my instincts? What do I owe my readers? I made a deliberate choice to write something people would enjoy, not knock people out with ”Boy, he can really put a clause together!” I’m not saying I could have been Hemingway. But I feel like I’m back in the groove.
In your books — but not in the Showtime series — Dexter’s stepson, Cody, knows he’s a serial killer and even wants to learn Dexter’s killing ways. What inspired that dark idea?
I wanted Dexter to have a family that could love him and understand him. I understand why they don’t do it on the show, because TV has this obligation to make things more cuddly. There was a time writing the third book, I thought of killing Dexter and turning the franchise over to Cody — and that may someday happen.
When you write Dexter, do you now see [series star] Michael C. Hall in your head?
Visually, I do see a little bit more Michael C. Hall. But the differences between the two characters are becoming more pronounced. My Dexter pretends to be nice. Their Dexter is trying to become nice.