Point of origin: Himself
He said it was fiction, but Orr’s ‘ novel’ reads more like a journal
Points Of Origin details the crimes of ‘ Aaron Stiles’, a thinly disguised version of Orr himself, whose name is thought to be an anagram for ‘ I set LA arson’. Orr described Stiles as “a loner and insecure” and wrote that “his fires gave him the much- needed attention that he craved”.
Stiles’s crimes mirror those committed by Orr, and prosecutors drew on the book in court, particularly in relation to the fire at Ole’s Home Center ( called ‘ Cal’s Hardware’ in the novel). Stiles is furious when the devastating blaze at Cal’s is pronounced accidental. Orr wrote, “Aaron... hated it when he wasn’t properly recognized.”
Distressingly for the families of Orr’s victims, the protagonist blames the victims of the Cal’s Hardware fire for their own deaths: “It wasn’t his fault. People... just acted stupidly. And their death had nothing to do with the fact that he set the fire. They just reacted too slowly. It was too bad about the baby but, shit, it wasn’t my fault.”
Orr pays loving attention to Stiles’s sexual response to the fires he sets. Firesetting is typically about power rather than sexual gratification, so experts believe that Orr here is describing his own experience. John Orr denies this, claiming that he was advised by a writing instructor to make his characters “memorable” and to portray “the bad guys downright weird”. He insists he included it because, “sex sells, even perverted sex”.