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His Daily Q&A feature in November 2004 explains how the tradition began.
Q: Cliff Brooks, Bay Area NaNoWriMo writers have a tradition of killing off a character named “Cliff Brooks” in their novels. How did this trend get started? And aren’t you just a little bit freaked out that so many writers are out to get you?
A: I write horror, you see. And sometimes, it gets me in trouble.
Last year (has it been a year already?), I was sitting in a café cocooned by my South Bay writing brethren, plunking away on my keyboard when Phil, the youngest and most homework-encumbered member of our group, leaned over and read the page I was working on. He read the scene out loud for everyone’s edification, then burst out in peals of unrestrained laughter.
It wasn’t supposed to be a humorous scene.
So I did what any red-blooded, word-count-desperate NaNoWriMer would do: I killed Phil off in my novel in a deliciously gratifying drawn-out manner.
The next time our little group met, Phil had come up with a hilarious way of offing me in his book. And if memory serves me well (which, by the way, it never has before), his mother challenged everyone with the onerous task of killing me off in their novels. Despite their misgivings about killing such a saintly guy (they’ll see, I wouldn’t even hurt a fly), most acquiesced. The idea gained legs on the NaNo forum and even people who had never met me came up with creative, morbid, and oft times decadent means of making me puke out my guts.
Does it freak me out? I write horror, you see. And sometimes it gets me in trouble.Let the killing begin!