Have you read The Tell-Tale Heart? Edgar Allen Poe, perhaps the father of the modern thriller, published this short story in 1843. It has fascinated and stood the test of time partly because of its narrator.
He’s a cold, rational, calculating killer. But he’s not a psychopath. Why? Because what drives him insane is guilt.
Psychopaths are without conscience. They cannot and do not feel guilty. About anything. Ever. Does this make psychopaths insane? No. But it makes them very dangerous and fascinating to the rest of us.
Colin Falconer, an excellent writer from Australia, shared some thoughts on this with me recently after we’d both researched psychopaths.
Fatal Distraction’s villain was inspired in part by a case in my county years ago. Dubbed The Oakland County Child Killer, the case was the largest murder investigation in U.S. history at the time and it’s never been closed. We don’t know who this killer was or where he went or even why he stopped killing. But I’ve always believed someone knows. Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.
Venom’s villain was inspired by the infamous “Bikini Killer,” Charles Sobrajh, a man who ultimately destroyed himself. Read more about Sobrajh in Colin’s excellent blog post here: Killing for Fun and Profit . And remember that psychopaths come in good packaging, as Colin showed us in The Beautiful Villain.
Remember: “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.” – Hamlet, William Shakespeare
Tell us about the psychopaths you’ve known. We’d love to hear the stories of their tell-tale egos. How did you escape?