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And that's when Dexter said hello

October 01, 2006|Lynn Smith

IT was "just one of those neurotic moments," Jeff Lindsay says, describing his inspiration several years ago for the novel "Darkly Dreaming Dexter," recently turned into "Dexter," Showtime's abnormal psych crime series.

He was the luncheon speaker at his local Kiwanis Club in Fort Meyers, Fla., and as he sat at the head table, a thought suddenly entered his head: "Serial murder isn't always such a bad thing."

No offense to the Kiwanians, he is quick to add.

Lindsay, an author and playwright, started scribbling ideas on a napkin, which turned into a pile of napkins. When he came home, he had an outline for the book, which follows a nice but twisted boy as he tries to turn his compulsion for vivisection into a sort of vigilante justice. Granted, it took three years to finish his first draft, but after the luncheon, he says, "It was pretty much done."

Many, many agents, including some of the best in the business, he says, rejected his book without even reading it.

Then in 2004, Nick Ellison took it on, and "Dexter" took off, becoming a cult bestseller for Random House and attracting attention from Hollywood filmmakers. Ellison, however, steered him to Showtime, arguing that he could get more of his book into a series of episodes than a movie. What's more, a television show would keep the book alive.

Indeed, the book is being rereleased to coincide with the launch of the show, which premieres tonight at 10.

Lindsay had previously struggled in Hollywood, working a dozen years as a theater manager and stand-up comedian while trying to sell screenplays. He understands, he says, what "adaptation" means and that he would have no say in the final screen version. Not so with the cable channel. Showtime was so respectful, it made him nervous, he says. "It was like a practical joke."

-- Lynn Smith

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