Bret Easton Ellis Explains How He Got The Inspiration For Those Super Gruesome Scenes In 'American Psycho'

Patrick Bateman

Brett Easton Ellis, the author of “American Psycho” (the scariest book written about Wall Street) and several other must-read novels, did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” the other day

It was a pretty good AMA and we’d recommend reading the full thing. 

Here’s an excerpt.  (Note: This has been lightly edited for clarity):

Reddit User:  How did you write such disgusting scenes in American Psycho. How did they even get in you? Where did you find such inspiration? Especially for the rat, that was EXTREMELY F*****D UP. Also, huge fan here. American Psycho is my favourite book of yours.

Easton Ellis:  I waited to write those scenes until the book was finished. Since I didn’t really know how to approach them. I did a little bit of research with some kind of FBI textbook that went into super-gruesome detail about serial killers. Then just being in [Patrick Bateman’s] brain for three years–it all came together. Very upsetting scenes to write.

Reddit User: What did you think of American Psycho 2?

Easton Ellis: It was a breathtaking masterpiece.

Reddit User: Music has always played a large role, in many of your works. The playlists that exist for each book – were these assembled after the fact, or do the songs in your books reflect what you were listening to while writing them?

Easton Ellis: Those playlists absolutely reflected what I was listening to at the time I was writing those books. 

Reddit User: favourite author? Besides yourself, of course.

Easton Ellis: Gustave Flaubert.

Reddit User: Could you explain the ending to American psycho to me like I’m a 5 year old?

Easton Ellis: Not really, babe. 

Reddit User: Hey there, been waiting all day, and impressed you came early! I’m a huge fan of American Psycho, and was wondering how you chose what Patrick Bateman’s rants were going to be about, and how you researched them. Did you pick music artists/clothing styles that you personally like, or that you think Patrick would like? Or both? Thanks for doing this!

Easton Ellis: Well, in a lot of ways Patrick’s rants are about wanting to fit into a society that he doesn’t believe in. That’s where I was, too. At the time. So a lot of the rants came from my frustration as well. Not a lot of research into that. I didn’t like any of the music Patrick liked but it was popular at the time and it seemed to reflect a certain kind of mass-taste that PB wanted to be a part of. As for clothes: yeah, I wore a suit like a lotta guys did in that period but not nearly as fashion-conscious as PB.

Reddit User: Mr. Ellis – thank you for everything you’ve done for the first amendment. You are good for America. 1) How did you come up with the magical line from Glamorama “The better you look, the more you see?” What type of research did you do for the shower scene? 2) Do you enjoy Dexter? Who would win in a murder off – Dex or Patrick Bateman? 3) Supposedly in NYC you had the season’s greatest Christmas party every year. Did you and what made them so epic?4) Edward St. Aubyn, David Mitchell or Alan Hollinghurst?

Easton Ellis: 1. I don’t remember. I think it was combining a couple of ads I saw in the ’90s. And then it became a mantra for Victor Ward. The research for the shower scene was an accumulation of many shower scenes or variations thereof. 2. You know what? I never really got Dexter. I know a lot of people involved with the show. And I don’t want to diss it. But it seemed too high-concept and jokey for me. I think Dexter would probably quite easily do away with PB. :( 3.  Christmas parties were packed. Anyone could come. I always liked the party scene in the film Breakfast At Tiffany’s: that’s the vibe I wanted. 4. I have read and admired all three authors. I think they have all written excellent novels. P r o p s

Reddit User: What do you miss about the 80s?

Easton Ellis: Well, I guess on a surface level a kind of analogue/Empire way of life. But, really, the ’80s didn’t thrill me. So: not a lot, guys.

Reddit User: How is the current novel going, and is it a sequel to American Psycho?

Easton Ellis: Not a sequel to American Psycho. Honestly: the last month or so it has gone kind of slowly. Distracted by other things that are going on. Thinking it through, making notes, deciding which way to go.

Reddit User: In your experience, what restaurant has been the most difficult to get a reservation to?

Easton Ellis: If a restaurant is “too difficult” to get into: why the f*** bother? I don’t have an answer to that because if I couldn’t get in somewhere I just moved on. Unlike, of course, PB.

Read the rest of the AMA at Reddit >

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