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Empathy for a Killer By Sarah Masters

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For as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated with what makes someone think they can just go out and kill another person.

It sounds macabre, and like I’m some weirdo who is obsessed with the dark side, but that isn’t so. I’m a pretty laid back woman who likes to be happy and enjoy the simple things in life. I avoid the news because it makes me cry. I try hard not to engage in conversations that will lead to me becoming upset. Why then, have I got the need to explore the minds of murderers? I can’t help you there, I’m still trying to work that out. Actually, scrap that, I’ve given up trying to work it out. It’s what I like to write about, so I do. I abandoned ‘writing to spec’ years ago, and now, if a story wants to be a certain way, about a certain subject and person, then that’s what it becomes, whether there’s a call for that type of book or not.

I spent a long time reading true crime books—years!—especially those with a psychologist’s point of view, which gave reasons as to why killers kill. The nurture versus nature debate—I lean more towards the nature side of it with a splash of nurture thrown in for those killers who have had appalling upbringings with no guidance into what’s right and wrong. My view is, if someone shows signs while growing up of feeling absolutely no empathy, despite being raised to be kind, then nature is the culprit. We are what we are, sometimes regardless of outside influences and teachings. Pretty scary when you think about it.

I have so many thoughts on this subject that I’d be here all day if I started typing them up, so I won’t do that, but the subject matter will always captivate me, therefore I’ll always write about it. You’ll find most of my books try to show the killer’s side of things—the why, the reason for their compulsion—and I think it’s my way of trying to understand something that isn’t understandable at all. How can killing someone be understandable? Yet I hopefully manage to give some inkling as to why a person may think it’s absolutely okay to go about murdering folks—an inkling of what their mind is like and how it works. To us, putting milk on cereal is normal. To them, chopping someone to pieces is normal. They may not understand why we put milk on our breakfast just as much as we don’t understand their need to take a life.

Like I said, I’m fascinated by it—also by how the brain works ‘normally’ for some but not for others. So now I could take a stroll down the road that encompasses all the hidden workings of a brain, but I won’t. It’s all so complex and might bore you silly. I do think that unless you’re as curious as I am about the mind of a killer, you probably wouldn’t like the majority of my books. However, if you’ve found yourself asking questions on this subject, you may well like reading my serial killer stories. I have many of them with Pride Publishing, who have supported my need to write crime thrillers with a sometimes graphic dash of descriptive passages from day dot. My latest, Empathy for a Killer, is me perhaps manipulating the reader into feeling empathy for a killer when, before they picked the book up, they would have sworn they wouldn’t feel sorry for him at all. The manipulation ties in with the ‘how the brain works’ subject, and I’ll halt there before I type and type and type and don’t stop until I’ve written a novel about this subject haha!

Finding a killer isn’t easy, but someone’s got to do it…

Detective Burgess Varley is called out to view a dead body. It isn’t one of the best things about his job—but putting killers away for the rest of their lives? Now that’s one of the best. Problem is, the victim has something in her mouth that has always scared Burgess—something that links him to the killer without him even knowing it. And that link is more than Burgess might be able to handle.

Detective Shaw Peters, Burgess’ partner for several years, loves Burgess in ways he perhaps shouldn’t. Or ways that Burgess won’t accept, anyway. But Shaw isn’t one to back down from a challenge, and as well as being by Burgess’ side on the hunt for a killer, he has his own mission to accomplish—getting Burgess to admit they’re meant for each other. It won’t be easy, but by God, he’s going to give it a try.

With Burgess and the killer learning things about themselves, their lives, and each other that they previously hadn’t known, life—and death—is about to become serious.


Sarah Masters is a multi-published author in three pen names writing several genres. She lives with her husband, youngest daughter, and a cat in England. She writes at weekends and is a cover artist/head of art in her day job. In another life she was an editor. Her other pen names are Natalie Dae and Geraldine O’Hara.

Sarah also co-authors with Jaime Samms, and as Natalie Dae she co-authors with Lily Harlem under the name Harlem Dae.


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