I need to walk away from my current work to get a fresh perspective, so in the mean time, I started to write a new book, a serial murder story. At first I thought it was too violent for young adult readers, but then when I thought of all the death and blood and gore in Hunger Games and Harry Potter, it didn’t seem so bad.
My question is, should I keep this for a Young Adult audience or switch it up to a mainstream adult thriller?
Here’s a brief excerpt from the first page.
* * * * * *
“Hey, the elevator is going down to the basement! Did you press the wrong button?”
“Oh, crap!” Jenna’s eyes flew open, and her confidence dropped with the elevator.
“I hate the basement. It’s so creepy,” Carley moaned. “You know they don’t like us going down there.”
Jenna punched the number two button, but the decrepit elevator continued its descent. “It’s not like anybody wants to go down there in the first place.” She tore her eyes from the lit-up button marked with a one and stared at her friend. “I know I pressed two when we got on the elevator.”
“That means someone must have called for it from the basement!” Carley said. “Who do you think did that?”
“Calm down. It’s probably just Mr. Fieldsgate. That old janitor is no one to be afraid of.”
“I don’t know…”
“You sound like a baby. Just like Abigail. There’s nothing down there!” Jenna said.
The elevator shuddered to a stop, and Jenna gulped at the lump in her throat. She tapped the button for the second floor several times in quick succession.
“They think we might get hurt tripping over something in the dark. That’s all,” Jenna whispered, and her bravado faded into nothing as the doors slid open.
Each girl pinned herself back into the corner, and Jenna slowly reached out and pressed the ‘Close Door’ button. Nothing happened, but then the doors finally started to slide close. The girls exhaled, but two large hands, gnarled and bloody, reached into the elevator and pushed the doors apart. Jenna and Carley gaped wide mouthed, but neither could utter a sound. Carley glanced at her friend, whose round fearful eyes mirrored her own.
The hands disappeared, but not a second later, from the black engulfed basement a carcass tilted forward. Crimson covered the back of its knotted gray hair, and the body splattered halfway inside the elevator onto the floor. Guttural sounds gargled up the girls’ throats, and screams finally let loose at the sight of the old school janitor.
His bulging eyes stared up at Jenna, as frightened in death as she was in life, and his mouth had dropped wide open to his chin, just like Carley’s. Blood saturated the front of his pine green one-piece uniform. Carley held both hands fisted prayer-like against her mouth, unable to speak.
The doors slid closed but bounced open as they hit the legs of the graying corpse. The moment the doors fully retracted, they drew toward the janitor’s body again. This time, battered hands latched onto the metal edges of the doors and pushed them open. Carley wailed and tucked herself hard inside the corner as a man peered at her with red facial scars curving like a chaotic map over half his face. Only one eye moved as he dragged it over Carley, then he glared at Jenna, who pressed her back into the handrail.
He growled when he spoke, more like an animal than a man.
“Well, well. What the hell do we have here?”
* * * * * *
What do you honestly think? Should this be written for a young adult or adult audience? Other murders in the story will include adults, both male and female, maybe another student. Please feel free to comment on the content, too. Thank you!