How do you get inside the head of a killer? by Caro Ramsay – Writing Tips

How do you get inside the head of a killer? by Caro Ramsay – Writing Tips

Today on the blog we welcome author Caro Ramsay, with her guest post ‘How do you get inside the head of a killer?‘ as part of the blog tour for her new book, ‘The Sideman’. which is released today, 7th May 2020. This post contains affiliate links.

Caro Ramsay

I was raised on the south side of Glasgow, around the Govan area. I think I am the only person I know who was drummed out of the Brownies for insubordination – badge-less! The only badge I came close to was Pet-care but my mum objected to me taking my wormery to bed.

I never considered myself good at English at school, being rather more talented at the sciences, such as maths and chemistry. I was the younger sister of a much brainier elder sister and choose my exam subjects just to avoid her. But even then, science threw up many interesting facts – methods of poisoning, electrocution, death by a blunt object by working out that F=MA versus skull. Most of these were put to use in trying to dispose of the PE department.

Having turned down places at Veterinary and Medical school, I was the youngest person ever to graduate from the British School of Osteopathy in London, where rather than being a valued member of a Primary Care Team, my job seemed to consist of translating the Taggart episode that has been on the night before.

Thus I became fluent in both English and Glaswegian. Upon graduation, I immediately returned to Glasgow to establish my own practice, which even in the early days included the treatment of animals. It’s far better than being a vet, as you don’t have to end either their life or their sex life.

It was while recovering from a very bad back injury, I decided to put pen to paper and started the scribblings that was to become Absolution.

Guest Post sign How do you get inside

How do you get inside the head of a killer?

I don’t think crime writers find it very difficult to get inside the mind of a killer. The author will often inhabit that space for a few months every year. I can only say that, in my experience, the murder has to be right. There has to be some reason to it in the killer’s mind at least.

I’m not very good at reading fiction where there is a murderer at large killing people for no ‘good reason’, carving victims up, page after page until the shoot-out with the forces of law and order. I think in modern crime fiction, the perpetrator has to be working to an internal logic, and hopefully some emotional intelligence as to why they are behaving the way they do. Maybe even in some cases the reader might think, well in different circumstances ‘that could be me’.

A really clever trick, if the author can pull it off, is to make the reader slightly empathetic towards the killer. At the end of the film of Silence of the Lambs, we are actually rooting for Lecter to walk away. Or was that just me?

In The Sideman, there are two, maybe three perfectly normal law abiding people who get pushed so far out of their comfort zone that they, could, reasonably, see killing somebody as the only way to regain some sense of themselves, a will to redress the balance. We have all felt that little flicker of anger when watching the news and some terrible event is unfolding. We may imagine taking the law into our own hands just for a split second before common sense prevails and we are content that the forces of law and order will go through due process.

In crime fiction, the author can poke that wasp’s nest. There’s a well-known piece of thriller writing advice; put your hero up a tree, and don’t let him come down. And every time he thinks he’s safe to come down, throw something else at them. It’s interesting to see how much they will take before they crack.

In The Suffering of Strangers and The Sideman, DI Costello and social services do all they can to protect a vulnerable child, but the child still loses his life. It has a profound effect on her; I think it would have a devastating effect on anybody.

I watch and read a lot of true crime and I think it’s fair to say that the sort of murder that crime writers enjoy creating is incredibly rare, thankfully. So rare in fact that the perpetrators of these crimes are easily recognisable in the public consciousness. Is that because we find them fascinating? Murder is obviously a tragic event, often an unnecessary moment of madness. There’s nothing fascinating about it, but when we see books about Ted Bundy or Fred West, I am not sure people are reading to glamourize what they did. I think there is a need to genuinely try to understand why they did what they did, to try to shine a little light into the dark corner of their souls. In crime fiction, I like to think we also carry out a little exploration into the minds of those who have a chip of ice in their hearts.

I do get asked at events if I could commit the perfect murder. I am normally asked this by a lovely little old lady who looks as if she should be at home making jam. The answer is yes, and the explanation is incredibly boring. The perfect murder is one where nobody realises that a murder has been committed….

There are only five motives for murder; lucre, lust, loathing, revenge and a secret. That’s enough to fill an awful lot of books!

The Sideman by Caro Ramsay

The Sideman
Anderson and Costello Thrillers

Author – Caro Ramsay
Publisher – Black Thorn
Pages – 352
Release Date – 7th May 2020
ISBN 13 – 978-1838851019
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover, audio

Interview synopsis 2020 How do you get inside

Inside a beautiful Victorian family home in Glasgow’s West End, a mother and her young son are found brutally murdered. DI Costello is furious and knows exactly who did it, George Haggerty, the husband and father. The only problem is that Haggerty has a cast-iron alibi – the police themselves caught him speeding on the A9 at the time of the murders. But Costello can’t let it go. Determined to expose Haggerty as a ruthless killer, she’s gone solo.

DCI Colin Anderson has no time to ponder his partner of twenty years going rogue, as his own cases are piling up. But Costello’s absence becomes increasingly worrying. Has she completely disappeared following the tracks of a dangerous man?

Purchase online from: BooksBlackwell


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Share your thoughts on ‘How do you get inside the head of a killer?’ in the comment section below!

The above links are affiliate links. I receive a very small percentage from each item you purchase via these link, which is at no extra cost to you. If you are thinking about purchasing the book, please think about using one of the links. All money received goes back into the blog and helps to keep it running. Thank you.

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5 Responses

  1. DJ Sakata says:

    I’ve often wondered about this

  2. Ashleigh says:

    Great guest post

  3. Megan | The Ginger Mom Reader says:

    Getting into the mind of a killer has always posed one of the biggest challenges for me, as far as writing. I don’t have a cunning mind so could never create the intricate plots that are required for these books 🙂

  4. Kathy West says:

    Great, interesting post.

  5. Robin Loves Reading says:

    Wonderful guest post.