My first novel is narrated by a 16th-century Countess imprisoned in the tower of her Castle for having murdered her servants and bathed in their blood. Yup.
To be clear: I'm not a murderous countess, conducting blood rites in my kitchen. I'm not even into hardcore horror novels and movies - I like to be scared, but I'm a bit of a wimp. When I was a teenager I read a story about the blood-bathing Countess Bathory, and she Freaked Me Out. The things that freak us out that stick around for a long time.
Years later, I started writing about the countess. There were so many questions I wanted to ask her. Like: "What the f@%$# were you thinking?" She's been dead for a really long time, so I read whatever books about her that I could find. Interesting, but not ultimately satisfying. Writing was the only way I could answer those questions myself.
Her story still freaked me out, even as I wrote it. But I found a way to connect with her; some small part of her to empathize: her lonliness. Fear. Insecurity. I know these feelings well; as a teenager they were part of my DNA.
This is what writing "outside the lines" is about for me. Being able to embrace my inner freak. She may be a lunatic, but that's okay. I want to hear her story.