The Psychopath Next Door

Posted: June 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

By Thorne & Cross


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There are all sorts of horrific monsters to write about, from ghosts to vampires to zombies and werewolves, but we think the most frightening thing of all is a living, breathing, human psychopath. Most supernatural monsters are easy to spot – you can see them coming and take appropriate action. You know what you’re up against. But psychopaths are so good at what they do that you might sleep next to one for decades and never even know it. They are consummate actors. The head of the company you work for may be a psychopath who is able to crush the competition and take his firm to the top without remorse. The surgeon who removed your appendix may be as unfeeling and cold as a snake, but that often makes him a better surgeon.

But it’s important to remember that most psychopaths and sociopaths do not commit murder. However, they are often found doing something shady, one way or another. Whether it’s a car salesman who convinces a little old lady to buy a lemon, or the realtor who talks you into buying a house riddled with termites and a backed-up cesspool, these folks are crooked. And they don’t feel a drop of remorse – how can they? They don’t even know what remorse is.

That type is plentiful. But the psychopath we want to talk about is the most invisible of all. As with the less dangerous psychopaths, power and control is about the only thing that motivates and excites them. But sometimes, scamming you into buying property in a swamp isn’t enough excitement for them. They might need to destroy your life … or take it. They seem like nice people and that’s why they’re extremely dangerous. They are invisible.

When writing our latest thriller, Mother, we wanted our psychopath to be the kind most people wouldn’t see coming. Priscilla Martin is not a likely candidate when one thinks of psychopaths. However, that is often the case. Psychopaths come in all shapes and sizes, and we deliberately crafted Priscilla into an innocuous figure – on the surface, that is.


Sure, Priscilla Martin has some control issues – she likes taking charge of all the neighborhood events and church activities, and is very persnickety about the way things are done – but she isn’t dangerous, is she? That remains to be seen by the readers, whom we invite to make up their own minds about what’s really going on at Mother’s house. But we sure had a good time creating this character and exploring all the various avenues she would travel in order to obtain what she wants most.

When developing a good psychopath, we recommend a few books that have really helped us out. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout is an incredible read that will change the way you see the people around you. We also highly recommend The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. This book will teach you why you must learn to trust your instincts, and how you can deal with problematic, unbalanced, and potentially dangerous people. Thanks to these books, we no longer ignore those very early warning signs that tell us something is “off” about a person, and we’ve learned effective ways of disassociating ourselves from the ones we weren’t able to avoid. And that has helped us write about these virtually invisible monsters among us.

That being said, there are few things we enjoy more than creating fictional characters who are a few bricks short of a load. Writing about psychopaths allows us to really delve into the darker part of the human psyche, to analyze it, and to put it to good use in our fiction. And nowhere is this more true than in Mother, where we really brought the crazy home, so to speak, by making our psycho into the most beloved icon of all: the maternal figure.

And in researching for Mother, we should add that, despite the sense of love and safety we generally associate with the word “mother,” we found no shortage of real-life motherhood-gone-wrong stories that had us gasping in shock and disbelief. Who could believe that a person’s worst nightmare could come in such an unlikely package? And that’s what we wanted to address in Mother. We wanted to ask the question: Where do you hide when the monsters all live at home?

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Paul Tremblay is the author of A Head Full of Ghosts, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, The Little Sleep, No Sleep Till Wonderland, and his latest novel, The Cabin at the End of the World. He is a member of the board of directors of the Shirley Jackson Awards, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and numerous “year’s best” anthologies. He has a master’s degree in mathematics and lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

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Welcome to Crimson Cove
Sheltered by ancient redwoods, overlooking the California coast, the cozy village of Crimson Cove has it all: sophisticated retreats, fine dining, and a notorious nightclub, The Crimson Corset. It seems like a perfect place to relax and get close to nature. But not everything in Crimson Cove is natural.
When Cade Colter moves to town, he expects it to be peaceful to the point of boredom. But he quickly learns that after the sun sets and the fog rolls in, the little tourist town takes on a whole new kind of life – and death.
Darkness at the Edge of Town
Renowned for its wild parties and history of debauchery, The Crimson Corset looms on the edge of town, inviting patrons to sate their most depraved desires and slake their darkest thirsts. Proprietor Gretchen VanTreese has waited centuries to annihilate the Old World vampires on the other side of town and create a new race – a race that she alone will rule. When she realizes Cade Colter has the key that will unlock her plan, she begins laying an elaborate trap that will put everyone around him in mortal danger.
Blood Wars
The streets are running red with blood, and as violence and murder ravage the night, Cade must face the darkest forces inside himself, perhaps even abandon his own humanity, in order to protect what he loves.
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Dan Howard was born Daniel Earl Javorsky in Berlin and immigrated to the US. He has been, among other things, a delivery boy, musician, product rep in the chemical entertainment industry, university music teacher, software salesman, copy editor, proofreader, and novelist. His novels include Down Solo and Trust Me, and a sequel to Down Solo called Down to No Good.


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“Jason Crandall needed to make a new start, he worked in Los Angeles as a Marketing executive for years. Sadly his wife died leaving him as a widower with an 18-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. He decided to start his new life in Shadow Springs by becoming a massage therapist. Shadow Springs seems like a nice little town but before long before cracks start to form in the town’s illusion of normalcy and secrets come to light.

First Jason has to deal with a jealous husband of one of his clients but life gets more complicated as the beautiful Savannah Sturgess goes missing. Jason starts to have horrible visions that make him doubt his sanity and some people are looking at him as a suspect in the disappearance. Everyone in town has their own set of secrets, but the biggest secret is what happened to Savannah and why won’t the dead rest in peace?

Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross is a book that works on several levels. It’s a murder mystery, horror novel and ghost story with the perfect setting of a small mysterious town. The first half of the book takes its time making us feel empathy for the characters. By the time strange things happen in the second half you’re totally hooked and wanting to see what happens next.

The detail put into each character makes them come to life and while they are shown one way, to begin with you see other sides to them as the story moves along. Savannah, in the beginning, is seen as the town whore but when we get into why she is the way she is, she becomes a sympathetic character. Also, Flynn Garvey who is Savannah’s boyfriend has no personality in the beginning, but later we dig a little deeper and find he has a secret and there is more depth to him than we thought. Even the character of Tabitha Cooper who is not in the story much is someone you feel for. She is seen as a crazy old witch, but in reality is very different than others see her. All of the characters present an image to the outside world but if you scratch the surface a little they show another side. You care about these people because you can relate to them and that makes things even scarier when odd things start to happen.

The best part of this book was when Jason is questioning his sanity. You see him as just a guy dealing with the loss of his wife and trying to raise his kids to the best of his abilities but as he is having visions that make no sense his life quickly unravels. The feeling of losing your mind when you know people are dependent on you is the worst kind of fear and Jason is also dealing with ghosts from his past. In Sleep Savannah Sleep the horror doesn’t come from what you see, it comes from what you don’t see. This is an old school horror novel that preys on your emotions rather than showing you horrific imagery, though it does that too. Alistair Cross shows that he is a master storyteller by giving us memorable characters and a twist ending that you’ll never see coming.”

– David’s Haunted Library at

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Brendan Duffy is the author of THE STORM KING and HOUSE OF ECHOES. In 2015 he was featured in Refinery29’s “21 New Authors You Need to Know”. He lives in New York, where he’s at work on his next novel. Listen in Thursday, May 17th at 8 pm EST at:


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