Feeling Excited…


(Cover photo by Chloe Hughes)
I am very excited. CLARA has arrived from the printer, and all looks fine (books are never exactly how I envision them beforehand, due to the restrictions with ink colours, plus when I’m writing, I have no awareness of the thickness of the book). Now comes the scary bit, which is persuading people to actually read it! I do have a sense of urgency with Clara, it is a book which almost demanded to be written.

I began, over a year ago, by writing the Introduction, which was actually a point midway through the story. As I wrote it (originally so I could include it in the back of JOANNA) I had no idea who the characters would be, or how the story would unfold, or if it would even make sense in the wider context of the completed book. I figured it didn’t matter; if the story took off in a different direction, no one would care, and I have read ‘tasters’ in the back of books by famous authors which bear no resemblance to the story when it finally is written.

However, this was not the case with Clara. As I began to write, as I spent time researching the situations I wanted to include, as the story unfolded in my mind, everything came together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle. By the time I came to write the part in the story where the Introduction would have slotted, it made complete sense. Other than changing the name of one character, it was perfect. As the writer, I had an “Oh wow!” moment, and had that butterfly feeling in my stomach that you get when something weird and wonderful has happened.

Clara was not an easy book to write, because the themes are sometimes uncomfortable, but it was a compelling story, and I think you will find it gripping. Let me tell you about some of the issues which I was trying to address.

Firstly, it was a natural extension of my story about Joanna. Before I wrote JOANNA, I thoroughly researched what it meant to be a psychopath. I learnt that most psychopaths are NOT killers, and are never convicted of any crime. They will though, be pretty awful people to live with. Which made me wonder, could a psychopath change? Could they, instead of being destructive, manage to use their psychopathy as a strength? Could a psychopath perhaps achieve something great, which a non-psychopath would find difficult or impossible? I wanted to explore this with Clara.

Secondly, my initial planning of the book coincided with a visit to the slums of Delhi. I was visiting some ActionAid projects, and I met women, in their homes, who have incredibly tough lives. I sat with them, walked with them, listened to their stories. And it affected me. I wanted to tell the world about them, and one way to achieve this was to ‘send’ Clara to India. Could I intertwine these two ideas, and write an exciting story? That was my goal.

I visited India several times during the writing of CLARA – sometimes visiting ActionAid, sometimes visiting Tearfund projects, and sometimes simply walking through areas and absorbing the life I was seeing. I made friends with people who live in India, and this was an invaluable help when questions arose while I was writing. When the first manuscript was completed, a kind friend in India read it through, to check I hadn’t written anything offensive, or that clashed with the culture. Originally, I had wanted to make Clara an Indian herself, but I soon realised this was too difficult. The culture is too different to my own, and I wanted to write the book in the first person, so the reader fully understands what it means to be a psychopath, what her thoughts and motivations are. Like me, Clara needed to be English, and to view her immersion into India through English eyes.

Weaving these themes together was a wonderful challenge, and although it took many rewrites before I was happy with it, I feel I have written a powerful book, perhaps a book that will shock. My editor, Peter Salmon, suggested I changed several parts – and my favourite comment (he writes comments as he does his initial read-through) was: “What the **** just happened!”

I hope it is also a book you will enjoy. It is exciting, but there are funny moments, and the story is an uplifting one. It shows how someone who is very bad, can achieve something that is very good. Would you like to buy a copy? It costs £11.95 from Amazon and in bookshops (they can order it if it’s not in stock). But until the 31st March, I can sell copies at a 33% discount, for £7.95 including free UK postage. Just send me a message via the contact form below, with your postal address (this is sent directly to me, it isn’t public). I will then send a book, and enclose payment instructions – you can pay by cheque or direct bank transfer. Why not buy a copy today?

Thank you for reading. If you felt able to share this post, that would be very kind. I want the world to know about this book.
Take care.
Love,
Anne x

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Joanna


Joanna

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Joanna sits on the bus and begins to plan. When Joanna plans, this usually means trouble for those around her. But this particular plan brings more than trouble, it results in fear and death and guilt. But not her own guilt. Joanna is a psychopath, guilt isn’t within the range of emotions she is able to feel.

Written in the first person, we learn Joanna’s story, from the initial spark of her plan, to the horrible aftermath of wrecked lives. You will view the world through Joanna’s eyes – be careful though, she might lie to you.

This is not just her story. We also watch the impact of her actions on those close to her – the woman who raised her, and Joanna’s own daughter. How does it feel to be related to a serial killer? For how long do you carry the burden of their actions? And when it comes down to it, is anyone really innocent?

Joanna

Published by The Cobweb Press
ISBN : 978-0-9954632-2-6

Why not order a copy today?

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Available from book shops (if it’s not in stock, they can order it for you).

US Link:

UK Link:

Thank you

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xxx

Researching a Psychopath (and how to avoid being killed).


Do you know how to stay safe from a serial killer? Following extensive research into the disorder, I was able to write two novels.  However, I did also learn a few things that might be useful in real life, so read on for some tips on how to stay safe.

Firstly, who is a psychopath? Let’s look at a few traits. Have a think, do you know someone who’s fun to listen to, but tends to be a bit ‘glib’ – they’ll move on if someone more interesting comes along? Someone who might have been in trouble as a child – perhaps stealing or vandalising? Someone who sometimes speaks in quite a muddled manner, so if you ask them a question, you’re not always sure what their answer was? Someone who is mainly concerned with themselves – so they rarely comment, or ‘like’ other people’s posts on Facebook, unless it will benefit themselves. They won’t let you know whether or not they’ll be attending an event – and are very likely to not show up at the last minute. They like to be seen as a leader, but you’re not quite sure what they actually do. They’re often promiscuous, possibly having children from multiple partners. They lie—sometimes blatant, in your face, lies. They like excitement, and are never scared. They have grandiose ideas about their own capabilities. Do you know that person? Then possibly, you know a psychopath.

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Researching psychopathy was hugely interesting—you can read more at the end of this article. I read many papers by neuroscientists, books by neurologists, and listened for many hours to convicted psychopaths. I even managed to find two mothers prepared to speak to me about raising a psychopathic child.

Going back to my first paragraph, how can you avoid being the victim of a serial killer? It is, of course, extremely unlikely that you will ever encounter a serial killer. Even though you probably know a psychopath or two, they are not likely to be killers. However, in case you are the one in a million who’s unlucky, what should you do?  Well, they are generally well planned, and will have observed a few possible victims first. So changing your routine helps, don’t always do the same things at the same time.

Also, psychopaths do not want trouble, they want an easy life. So the serial killers I researched would always choose a victim who did not have a dog. Dogs are unpredictable, they might bite the psychopath, so they would avoid those houses. (One of Dennis Radar’s first victims did have a dog, but it had been put into the garden.)

As psychopaths want things to be easy, they will think of a ploy to subdue the victim, so they don’t make a fuss until they have either been tied up or knocked unconscious. So, Ted Bundy pretended to have a broken arm and led his trusting victims to a secluded spot. When people found Dennis Radar in their homes, he told them he was ‘on the run from the police’, so instead of instantly panicking and fighting, they relaxed a bit, decided to be submissive until he had taken their money/car/food and had left. Which he never did. He used their compliance to over-power them. If those people had started fighting at the first sign of trouble, they would possibly have survived. If you suspect someone wants to hurt you, run or fight, don’t ‘play it safe’ and ‘wait and see.’ Be loud, make a fuss, fight.

Having said that, I think the odds of you being killed by a serial killer are much less than the odds of you winning a million pounds on the lottery or being a famous celebrity – so it’s not something you should worry about too much!

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anneethompson.com
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Thank you for reading. I am often asked, could the president be a psychopath? In reply, I tell them to read CLARA, as the novel shows clearly how a psychopath thinks and behaves. Most psychopaths are never convicted of any crime, and CLARA shows how, in some circumstances, the disorder could be a strength.

In JOANNA, I wanted to show the impact of living with a psychopath, and how it feels to be the mother of a killer.

Both books are available from bookshops and Amazon. The links are below. Why not buy one today?

The latest, and best book (in my opinion). An exciting novel written in the first person, which shows how a psychopath views the world. The story encompasses the world of women trafficked in India, and shows how someone very bad, can be used to achieve something amazing.

A gritty thriller, which shows what it means to be a psychopath, and how it would feel if someone in your family did something awful. (Because every psychopath has a mother.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK link for CLARA:

US Link for JOANNA:

UK Link:

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Extra Information for the Interested:

Psychopathy is a mental disorder – the brain does not respond like most people’s brains. They tend to have a smaller orbital frontal gyri (no, I didn’t know what that meant either! It means the front bit of their brain, the bit that controls empathy, is underdeveloped). They also have lower serotonin levels, so lack the ability to feel happy, to have emotional highs.

Now, most psychopaths are NOT serial killers. People tend to link the two because the reverse is not true – most serial killers probably are psychopaths. Robert Hare estimates that for every serial killer, there are 30,000 psychopaths who have never killed.

One trait of psychopathy is pathological lying. They will lie, even when it serves no purpose. If you suspect someone is a psychopath, think back to what they have told you – is it verifiable? Can you always prove what they have said is true, or do they tend to twist things slightly? It is thought that lots of politicians are psychopaths, as are the CEOs of many successful businesses.

It is difficult to detect lies though, especially as psychopaths tend to speak in a slightly confusing way. Sometimes they will contradict themselves within a sentence, so it is hard to be sure exactly what they have said. Some neuroscientists believe that they have two speech centres in the brain. For most people, everything relating to speech and words is located on the left side of the brain. However, there is some evidence that psychopaths have a second speech centre, on the right.  Dennis Radar was told he spoke in ‘word salad’ – a whole mix of phrases that barely linked.

You can watch psychopaths on YouTube, as trials and police interviews in the US are recorded, and are now available. I spent many hours listening to Ted Bundy (thought to have killed around 50 young women), Diane Downs (who shot her children), and Dennis Radar (the ‘Bind Torture Kill’ serial killer), learning their speech patterns and trying to understand how they think.

When I first started to watch video clips of convicted serial killers, I was shocked by how nice they were! I have always thought myself a good judge of character – and perhaps if I met them in real life it would be different – but they came across as nice people. Ted Bundy was an attractive, witty, intelligent man. If we knew him, we might have invited him round for dinner. He talks about coming from a ‘loving Christian family’ where he was ‘raised according to standards in the Bible’. However, my background reading indicates his mother fell pregnant when young, and some believe Ted’s father was his grandfather, who she lived with until she married another man. Ted Bundy for many years thought his mother was his sister.

They are often entertaining, very charismatic. Charles Manson (leader of the ‘Manson Family’ sect) was fascinating to watch, you couldn’t avoid listening to him.

Psychopathy is now diagnosed using Hare’s checklist – a list of traits. Most people have some of these traits, a psychopath will have most of them. Psychopathy is a spectrum, a bit like autism (though a very different disorder.) An autistic person will have emotional empathy, they will ‘feel’ how someone else feels, so detect anger or joy, but they will not understand why. A psychopath is the opposite, they will have neurological empathy, they understand how someone is feeling, and can even use this to manipulate people’s feelings, but they have no emotional empathy. A toddler laughing will not make them smile, they don’t pick up the ‘feelings’. You will probably appear somewhere on the psychopathic spectrum, perhaps you are selfish, or like to be in charge, or don’t often feel other’s emotions; but mostly, you will have the same responses as everyone else. You are only classified as a psychopath if you show most of the symptoms.

The neuroscientist James Fallon, was researching the changes in the brain under certain stimuli using an MRI scanner. He found he could detect psychopathy by the results of an MRI scan, he could actually see who was a psychopath.

You can read more about psychopaths, and my research, and general author-type things on my blog. Why not take a look today? Oh, and don’t forget to follow those links and check out my novels! Thank you. x

 

 

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and one non-fiction book. You can find her work in bookshops and Amazon.

Book Promo for JOANNA – never easy…..


Hello, and how was your week? Mine has been frustratingly slow – some weeks just go like that don’t they. I have however, made a little progress on the book promoting front.

Firstly, I have, I think, managed to add paragraphs to my description on Amazon. On Facebook, I belong to a couple of writer’s groups. One is the Association of Christian Writers (which I had to pay to join) and one is the SciFi Roundtable (which was free). Now, the Scifi one is brilliant. They are a group of authors who all try to help each other, promote each other’s books, offer feedback on writing, etc. They are also very funny, so I enjoy the general banter and jokes, even if I don’t always join in (I think most of them are rather more intelligent than me!) Anyway, I asked them about the whole paragraph on Amazon thing, and they told me to add <p> at the start of a paragraph, and <p/> at the end. It worked. At least, it did for Hidden Faces. I now need to try it for the JOANNA description.

Second bit of news is I finally have a trading agreement set up between Gardners and Waterstones. This has taken a very long time! I now need to submit a copy of JOANNA to Waterstones, and hope they like it enough to stock it in their shops (it is already available on their website). Of course, they do not actually tell you where to send a copy, you have to send a form asking for the address. Which all takes time. Luckily, books don’t have a ‘sell-by’ date.

I was also interviewed by a local journalist. This was less scary than last time (everything is less scary than last time). We met in a cafe, full of men who either looked like builders having a late breakfast, or retired gentlemen on their own having coffee. I was the only female in the cafe. We talked about JOANNA, and I launched into all the amazingly interesting facts I have discovered about psychopaths. Now, my family have begun to be less than enthusiastic about psychopaths, but that cafe full of blokes were captivated! I became aware that all the other tables were silent and listening to our conversation. Then they started to join in – leaning across to ask if I thought President Trump was a psychopath! It was very funny. Hopefully, it might also sell a few books when it appears in shops in April.

The journalist took a photo (always embarrassing) and said he would write an article to coincide with the book launch on 29th March. I do hope the article is about JOANNA, and not about me – I’m quite a private person really. He has since emailed me. He is sometimes invited to speak on Meridian FM and BBC Radio Surrey, and has suggested to them that I could go and talk about psychopaths. This would be both brilliant and extremely scary. Good for the book promo though, so I hope something happens. I will let you know.

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Since writing this, another journalist contacted me, asking for an interview. This one wanted a photograph of me “at my desk”. Now, when you have a family, “your desk” tends to be any available space that’s not too noisy. At present, it is my dressing table, in my bedroom. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to take a stranger into my bedroom (especially as I wasn’t sure when they emailed if they were male or female – a bloke might’ve got the wrong idea when I started to lead him upstairs!) So, I decided to ‘create’ a desk downstairs, in the corner of the kitchen. I do sometimes work there, but usually surrounded by lost socks and piles of laundry and odd items the dog has brought me. So I did bit of a tidy up. I also realised just how many dead plants I own. Seriously, every window sill in the house had a dead plant on it! They had to go. As did the muddy paw prints on the floor and the pillow worth of dog hairs. By the time she arrived, I had done a major Spring Clean and was exhausted. Next time, I shall do what J K Rowling did, and pretend I wrote my books sitting in cafes.

I am hoping the interview part went well. She seemed very interested, anyway – and told me about a few people she knows, asking if I thought they were psychopaths.

I have also booked a table at the Easter Market in town. This will be a good place to sell signed copies of JOANNA in April. It is all beginning to fall into place.

To preorder JOANNA, please follow the link:

https://anneethompson.com/published-books/joanna/

xxx