Posted by: Debrah Martin | March 7, 2014

Is there a psycho in your kitchen?

If you’ve ever had a peek at my website you’ll see that I started writing in quite a different genre to the one I’ve settled into now. I once ran a business involving singles and event management. It brought me into close contact with hundreds of people, so of course I naturally people-watched. That’s not to say I met any psycho’s during my time as a host – far from it. My ‘guests’ were in the main lovely, normal and charming people. However, as seems to be inevitable in this internet-driven age, through it I also discovered the world of internet dating – and there the psycho situation is quite different…

Yes, I admit it. I did it too. I went online, created ‘me’ in a profile – just as Robin does in Webs and hey presto, I entered a whole new world! I wrote Are You the One? perf5.500x8.500.inddas a result, drawing on those experiences and a few of my erstwhile clients as an event manager, but it taught me two very interesting – and perhaps disturbing things about people.

No, I never met a full-scale blue-blooded psycho, but I could often see the shades of psychosis in my dates – some more than others. It created an interesting window on the principle of what you see is not what you get as it is easy to create a pro-forma person online – based on what you would like to be perceived as – not, what you really are.  In fact if I look in the right places online some of them are still there, lurking – but luckily not in my kitchen! So what is psychotic behaviour? In fact – more to the point what is a psychopath?

Wikipedia describes the condition thus:

Psychopathy (/sˈkɒpəθi/) (or sociopathy [/ˈssiəˌpæθi/]) is traditionally defined as a personality disorder, characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior. It may also be defined as a continuous aspect of personality, representing scores on different personality dimensions found throughout the population in varying combinations.


Even more interesting – see how good old Wiki tells us that the characteristics of a psychopath’can be found throughout the population in varying combinations’. No wonder I came across so many! But then, wait – that means there might be elements of it in me too?

The fascinating thing about writing – and why I’m so obsessed with it (psychopathic trait number 1?) is that it brings us up close to ourselves. To write about something, you have to first understand what you are writing about, so that means you have to examine your own behaviour as well as others to replicate authentic reactions with your words. From there you start to study other people around you for similar signs – like looking for hairs on your palms (psychotic trait number 2?) and finally you progress to transferring those traits and behaviours to the characters you create (living in a fantasy world – psychotic behaviour number 3…). And that’s exactly what I did with Webs. I took psychotic elements from all the people I’d ever met, watched or dated and put them into my psycho. I also sprinkled a few in my other characters – bearing in mind that Wiki nugget – throughout the population. What I ended up with was a thriller with a psychological twist, but more than that, how the choices we make can create “the messes, near-misses and mishaps” (Lily’s words) that lead to disaster.

Webs has possibly been the most difficult of my novels to write so far because it has evolved as I have – as a writer, as an amateur psych, and as a person. I still also love my teenager character, Lily, best of all – and I have a lot more adventures planned for her as I attempt a YA detective novel next. In the meantime, please let me introduce you in my next blog to the psycho that has been in my kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, garden, lounge and head for a lot of the last three years …

Webs - front cover

By the way, is there a psycho in your kitchen or is it merely you wielding that bread knife so menacingly …

Webs is due to be released summer 2014 by Pen Press. Please keep an eye on my website for news:

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