Today we are delighted to feature Mary O’Sullivan and her latest release Thicker Than Water, a thriller featuring a serial killer and a town’s search to find a missing teenager and her father. Scroll down to read Mary’s post in which she reveals the extensive research she undertook prior to writing, an excerpt and the book’s blurb. Tina 🙂
A Killer By Any Other Name
My latest book, Thicker Than Water, features a serial killer. This meant doing research on psychopaths before I wrote a word. I had to know which traits my character should have, how they would interact with those around them, how they would conduct relationships. I was surprised to find from my research, that intelligence and charm were dominant traits – very far removed from the image of the sleazy unkempt person you would shun. Their apparent normality helps them to carry out their mission in life. I understood from what I learned that their empathy is nil, conscience non-existent, and their motivation is control. The ultimate power over another person is that of life and death. These angry people feel god-like, in total charge, perhaps for the first time, as they end the life of another human being. That power becomes an aphrodisiac, their life-blood. They live to kill and kill to live.
Infants, vulnerable beings that they are, tug at the heart strings of even the toughest of us. It is difficult to imagine violent murderers as innocent babies – blank canvases. Or are they? Are killers born with murder already imprinted in their genes? Professor Adrian Raine, over the course of many years research on prisoners, discovered that murderers’ brains make them more prone to anger. Conversely, their brains are configured to lower their ability to control that anger. He also believed early childhood abuse to be a factor in causing the brain to develop in this way.
In 1993 along came the amazing discovery of the so-called ‘Warrior Gene’, associated with violent behaviour and present in thirty percent of males. The really interesting finding is that not all of that thirty percent go on to behave violently. Some can, and do, lead law-abiding, productive, lives and form steady relationships. An interesting example of this is told in the book ‘The Psychopath Inside’, by neuroscientist James Fallon. In studying the brain scans of convicted criminals, he discovered his own brain scan matched theirs. He also scored high on the Hare Psychopathy Check List, a set of questions designed to determine anti-social and psychopathic tendencies. He concluded that if his upbringing had not been a positive influence, then he himself would probably have become a criminal. A neat answer to the nature versus nurture question but research is still at an early stage.
For me, Edward Theodore Gein (said to be the inspiration behind the book and film Silence Of The Lambs), personifies the most nightmarish aspects of psychopathy. Not satisfied with murder and cannibalism alone, this Wisconsin handy-man, fashioned lampshades from the flesh of his victims. He epitomises evil and yet, from photos, he appears to be a harmless little man. You can be side by side with a very disturbed psychopath and have no inkling.
That was the case with crime journalist, Ann Rule, as she sat beside the multiple murderer Ted Bundy, in of all places, a Crisis Call centre. She and Ted were friends as she investigated the serial murders of young women. Not for a moment did she suspect the, handsome, clever, well-educated and clearly normal, Ted Bundy. Her book on the subject, The Stranger Beside Me, makes for thought provoking reading. Ted, also known as the Campus Killer, was convicted of three murders, admitted to thirty six, and is believed to have committed at least one hundred. He was executed on 24th January 1989 but, as with other multiple murderers, people still seem to be fascinated by him.
While I think research very important, I also believe that it should just be a background in a work of fiction – an insurance that I won’t put my character into too implausible a situation. So when I discovered that the term psychopath, which I had studied so diligently, is now out of favour and Anti-social Personality Disorder is in, I abandoned research and let the writing begin.
Below is an excerpt, in the voice of the killer, from Thicker Than Water, published by Tirgearr Publishing.
Thank you to a readersreviewblog for hosting me today and thanks also to Lucy Felthouse (Writers Marketing Services) for organising my visit here.
Excerpt from Thicker Than Water
I control it – the urge, ‘the need’ as I usually call it. It gradually builds from the dreams and the voice and I hold the reins every step of the way from concept to final disposal. I orchestrate ‘the need’ and it fulfils me. That’s our bargain. But of late, ‘the need’ has been a bit too impulsive, too anxious to act before the ground work is properly laid. Like with that student in Dungarvan. Yes, I was in charge enough to ensure there were no CCTV cameras in the pick-up area , no witnesses to our meeting , that I left no traces and that I destroyed evidence but I’m still uneasy at how unplanned the whole thing was . I’m especially perturbed by how helpless I was on that occasion against ‘the need’. I saw her, Andrea McGee, and I knew the instant she stepped off the bus wearing hot pants moulded to her buttocks that she was evil. Her nose ring was the final sign she was one of them. I intended to mark her for processing, to learn more about her and her movements, to plan the where and when for disposal. ‘The need’ had other ideas. It took the chance of following the girl along a country road, of picking her up. It raged and burned inside me, it became me until that glorious moment of release when she let go her hold on life and ‘the need’ let go its hold on me.
And now, ‘the need’ is starting to burn again, to remind me that I have work to do. It hasn’t given me enough time to enjoy the peace. But maybe that’s the price of having a purpose in life. And one thing I know for sure. The world will be a better place when my work is done.
Blurb for Thicker Than Water :
When local teenager, Keira Shannon and her father, business man Gerard Shannon, go missing, the town of Ballyderg unites to search for them.
As the search continues rumours of domestic violence, extramarital affairs and criminal behaviour are rife. The crisis causes families and lifelong friends to doubt each other.
The only certainty left is that the town has been visited by evil. Or has it? Could it be the evil one has always lived there sharing history, laughter and tears? And if so, who could it be?
Amazon buy links: http://authl.it/3st
Tirgearr Publishing: http://bit.ly/1J6E7ZV
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1RpGnhf
Mary worked many years as a Laboratory Technician. Her hobby, her passion, has always been writing. Busy with family and career, she grabbed some moments here and there to write poetry and short stories. She also wrote a general interest column in a local newspaper.
As the demands on her time became more manageable she joined a local creative writing class. It was then, with the encouragement of tutor Vincent McDonald, that the idea of writing a novel took shape. She began to expand on a short story she had written some years previously. It was a shock for her to discover that enthusiasm and imagination are not enough. For the first time she learned that writing can be very hard work.
Mary now has six traditionally published novels, nine eBooks and hopefully more to come, inspiration permitting.
Social Media Links
Please visit my web page at: http://www.maryosullivanauthor.com
Chat to me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/authormaryosullivan
Follow on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/authorosullivan
Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/mary-osullivan/
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