I Am Watch­ing

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction / Nonfiction - EMMA KA­VANAGH 978-1-4967-1374-2 Kens­ing­ton, kens­ing­ton­books.com

Early in I Am Watch­ing, you write about Isla sit­ting with psy­chopath Heath Mc­gowan and eerily ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the no­tion that he had sup­planted her thoughts with his own. How did you de­velop such keen un­der­stand­ing into the hu­man per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of evil?

I am fas­ci­nated by the minds of psy­chopaths. Their in­ter­ac­tions with the world are so alien to most peo­ple we meet on a daily ba­sis. I met a man once, in the course of my mil­i­tary psy­chol­ogy work, who likely would have met the cri­te­ria of a suc­cess­ful psy­chopath. He was charm­ing, cold, ego­is­tic, and ma­nip­u­la­tive. Hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with him was a lit­tle like be­ing drunk—it felt like you were be­ing played, and al­though you knew you were be­ing played, you still found your­self help­less to stop it. Psy­chopaths do not just ex­ist in pris­ons.

What is it about the sus­pense and multi-lay­ered com­plex­ity of a good thriller that so in­ter­ests you as a writer?

I of­ten think of my job as con­struct­ing a novel rather than writ­ing one. So much of cre­at­ing a com­pelling thriller is about not just telling a story, but about cre­at­ing lay­ers of char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, of view­point, and al­low­ing re­veals to emerge at the op­por­tune time. Thriller writ­ing is so much fun to me be­cause it is so chal­leng­ing. It’s the cre­ation of a prob­lem that you as an au­thor have to solve.

Your day job study­ing hu­man per­for­mance in ex­treme sit­u­a­tions no doubt fac­tors into how you han­dle scenes in­volv­ing fear and vi­o­lence. What’s the key to por­tray­ing char­ac­ters who are ter­ri­fied?

In an av­er­age sit­u­a­tion, peo­ple rely heav­ily on their frontal cor­tex—the part of the brain in­volved in so­phis­ti­cated prob­lem solv­ing, cre­ativ­ity, logic, and all that very hu­man kind of think­ing. When peo­ple are afraid, the blood flow to the frontal cor­tex shows a dra­matic re­duc­tion and in­stead they rely on older, more in­stinc­tive parts of the brain.

Fear takes us back to a more an­i­mal­is­tic ver­sion of our­selves. When we are afraid, we re­act based on in­stinct, or based on mem­o­ries that are so well re­hearsed as to be­come al­most like in­stinct. When a char­ac­ter is ter­ri­fied, it is im­por­tant that their in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the things around them comes from this more an­i­mal­is­tic level.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.