Cody Mcfadyen was born in Texas in 1968. He designed websites before selling his first novel, Shadow Man, in 2005. He has since had a second book – The Face of Death – published. Both were international best sellers. He lives in Southern California with his two black labs, often referred to as ‘The Black Forces of Destruction.’ He drinks coffee (copiously), plays guitar (badly), and reads (voraciously). He abhors adverbs in writing, except when used in short bios like this one. Read More

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You Suck, and That's Sad

Well... I'm actually referring to myself there. :) I've been the anti-blogger, I know, but I'm back again!

Below is an article I wrote for another blog, about writing the bad guys and specifically how I came up with the evilness for 'Abandoned.' Hope you like.

I build my books around the bad guy. I have from the first. I remember making a conscious decision to build my bad guys a little bit outside the box – the box being the firm reality we all know and agree to be.

Why?

Because it’s a lot more fun to write about serial killers that way.

Think about it. Hannibal Lecter is a lot more interesting than Son of Sam. Hannibal is brilliant, complex, unclassifiable. He kills with finesse and precision. Son of Sam was an unhinged lunatic, blowing people away at random. As a character, Hannibal is much more interesting to write about (and read). Because true serial killers aren’t super villains. They’re disturbed, sordid individuals, driven by hungers and needs that usually destroy them from the inside out. A lot of the time, they’re socially inept, and not very smart. Their depravity is most often senseless. Writing about what they do would be like writing about a great white shark: it eats because it is hungry and it has such big sharp teeth… you can’t sustain an entire novel on pure savagery. So I like for my bad guys to have a reason for what they do, some guiding purpose. Otherwise, all I’m doing is asking you to pull up a chair and watch the feast – and while something in our reptile brains might enjoy seeing a little bit of the feast, we shy away from the full truth of it.

So when I started thinking about Abandoned, the fourth book in my series, I started by thinking about my killer. I wanted to do something different, but what? The killers in the books earlier in the series had all been pretty ‘hungry’; in other words, they were appetite driven. ‘So what,’ I thought, ‘about a killer with no appetite at all?’

I actually rejected it at first, but the idea kept swimming back to the forefront. There was something terrifying about the idea of someone operating with such cold clarity. It was haunting me – which is always a good sign! I thought about it a lot and finally realized what (for me at least) makes such a killer so chilling: that kind of coldness relegates us to nothing, nothing at all.

The killer who is purposefully cruel, the killer who drools with excitement, still needs our humanity, at whatever level. There is a validation of our value as sentient, emotional beings, even if that only means they need our fear and our horror. It’s a terrible kind of ‘mattering’, but still, we matter.

In the world of the killer I envisaged, we don’t matter at all. There’s no intentional cruelty, no enjoyment of our suffering, no acknowledgement of the value of our existence. He assigns his victims numbers, because it’s a more economical use of oxygen than saying their names.

I saw him, he terrified me, and then I wrote him. He lies within the pages of Abandoned. It’s my hope he’ll terrify you as well.

17 Comments:

Blogger olga said...

Hi!
I just wanted to say that me and my sister are big fans of your books.
I have never read anything like your first book, i could not put it down.
By now I we have read all of the 4 books and are holding our breath till the 5th book comes out.
I must say that the first and the last book were the best ones. I really enjoyed the twist at the end!
Is it somehow possible to get a sighnt copy of your book?
Greatings from germany!!!

February 17, 2010 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger wrowland said...

I initially read this on Amazon, before I read Abandoned, and found it interesting, informative, if not more than a little misleading! And that's all I will say.
Abandoned was brilliantly creepy, riveting, heartwrenching and possibly the most defining for Smoky, Tommy, et al, regarding their character and the difficult choices they are forced to make (I know Tommy is merely background, but I have a mad crush on your imaginary friend! And I'll admit, I kinda have a soft spot for James too, grating flaws and all).
I hope your time away from your blog has been time spent writing/polishing the next installment. The world you've envisioned continues to grow darker, richer, more vivid, a lot twisted and infinitely more frightening with each new book.
Cannot wait.

February 17, 2010 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger darkdragon8987 said...

You, Mr. McFadyen, have accomplished something no other male author could achieved: You have written "from the female insight", better than any FEMALE author could. I don't know how you do it (being male), but you fooled me! I am a 45-yr old female, who , w/ no exception, have read nothing BUT books about female characters, written BY female authors. I tried a couple of male authors in the past, but they just didn't "click". I've stayed in my comfort zone for over 20 years. Then one day in Jan., while checking out the "new book" list at my library, I noticed a Cody McFadyen, read the summary (online), and put it, along w/ others), on hold. When I had my new stack of books at home, I picked up your book,saw your pic., and, mentally, smacked myself on the head (I've known FEMALE Codys only!)! But I've learned over the past few years, to be more "open' about things. So, I re-read the inside cover, and began my journey.- One of the best decisions I've made in a very long time! I was automatically drawn into the characters lives, as if I was really there. (This was "Abanded", by the way). I fell in love w/ Agent Barrett, as well as the rest of the team. Every single character was refreshingly original, in both their personal, and working lives. And the whole group just falls together like the pieces of a puzzle- a perfect fit! And your story lines are incredibly real. You've done your homework! Not one single disappointment. ( I FINALLY found a tv show where the same thing happened- "Criminal Minds". Don't know if you've seen it, but you feel like you're watching a genuine FBI Team, (as if all the actors had to do THEIR homework- thoroughly!)- all of the characters fit together perfectly, and the episodes are always exciting, and original. This is my MOST favorite show in the world; In comparison w/ your work, this is a huge compliment!) Of course, I went back and got your previous works of art, am now caught up, and CAN'T WAIT for your next hit! Please don't make us wait too long. I congragulate you, in the most serious context, and wish you the best of luck in this endeavor!! Sincerely, B. Balles

February 18, 2010 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Cody McFadyen said...

Hi guys,

Wow, thanks for the encouragement!

It gets a little tunnel vision sometimes down here in the basement, late at night, while the snow comes down outside. It's nice to poke my head out of the ground and read things like this.

Olga: I am actually coming to Germany next month for a five day tour. I'll have the details soon and will post a schedule on my website.

Wrowland: Heh, heh, I'm glad I was able to mislead you (I understood what you meant.) Funny you mention James. I have gotten more emails encouraging me to do something substantial with him than any other character. Kirby is a close 2nd.

Darkdragon: It's always nice to hear that from my female readers. I must admit though, I never considered it at all when I wrote the first book. When I went on the tour for that book an interviewer asked me "So, how do you, as a man, write the female viewpoint so convincingly?" It caught me flatfooted, because it simply had never even occurred to me.
And yes, I watch Criminal Minds religiously. Great writing. What a surprise Thomas Gibson was! If you had told me the same guy who played Greg from Dharma and Greg was going to be Hotch, I wouldn't have believed it. What a way to take a pivotal career opportunity and show your chops. Dark, intense, understated. Great stuff.

February 20, 2010 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger darkdragon8987 said...

First off: I want to thank you, Mr. Mcfadyen, for commemting on my comment. Usually, when I take the time to give someone encouragement, or a compliment, it's a rarity that I get a response- this tells me a whole lot about you!
Anyway, as far as readers wanting you to do more with "James", I think you've nailed that one as well. There has to be some mystery in the team somewhere. We DID find out he's gay, wasn't that quite a leap? It's like Dr. Reid on "Criminal Minds", or a couple of the others on the show; Do we even know what goes on in their personal lives? I even wonder from time to time if he is gay, and if, so what. I find the entire cast sexy, intense, and each one, very "indivdual". Would it not take a lot of that away, if we knew EVERYTHING about them? There has to be some mystique left in any story, or it gets stale. That's a big reason I stopped reading a lot of the books from my past fave female authors- they gave away WAY too many details about the personal lives of the agents, P.I.'s. bounty hunters, etc., straying too far from the focus on the main story/criminal(s). It got to where evry time I'd get another book from the same author, I knew exactly how it would begin, pursue, and end: They became ridiculously mundane and predictable. No originality.
Mr. McFadyen, you HAVE that ability: The one that makes us wonder "how is this story gonna start, get under my skin, leave me in awe, end....?". Thank you for the refreshing reading- I had actually stopped going to the library for some time. In fact, now that I'm caught up with your series (started with the newest, and back- tracked), I just may go back and reread "Abandoned" again. That is another big compliment thrown at you. It's like watching a movie several times: There just aren't that many worth doing so!
I live in the Charleston, S.C. area- if you should ever make plan a tour in this direction, PLEASE let me know! Many, many thanks!! Other than coming up with new, original plots and criminals, don't change your style and context of writing- you've found a perfect combination of uniqueness and intrique! Enjoy this life!
Sicerely, B. Balles

February 21, 2010 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Brigitte said...

Hello! :)

After the first book came out I sent you an e-mail (I still have it) asking if there would be more books and you said you continued the story of Smoky Barett and had written a 2nd novel.

Look where we are now!! I still remember being in the bookshop and buying the book. It has already been three years!

So much has changed (for me)!!

I hope life has changed for you too, in a good way!

And it is cool that you watch the show Criminal Minds too! I used to watch it every time a long time ago. Spent a lot of hours on a forum about the show. I found my best long distance American friend - now real life friend there! :)

Keep on writing!

Greetings from a Dutch girl now living in Germany!

February 23, 2010 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger southernbelle said...

darkdragon said it all. I also LOVE your books and feel that you have more depth and insight into the female mind than ALL the female authors I have read. Your ability to put the reader in the mind of the character is unparalled. I have shed many tears for Smokey and her horrific past, as well as the pain that the others have suffered. Criminal Minds is also my favorite TV show, as they are almost as good as your writing. Have read all four books and am anxiously awaiting #5. By the way, any chance for a movie? I have already cast Holly Hunter as Smokey! What do you think?

February 24, 2010 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger darkdragon8987 said...

To southernbelle: I just want to thank you for your comment! It's nice to have someone agree with me for a change. And you have to admit, comparing Mr. McFadyen's writing to "Criminal Minds", is a pretty close call- the originality, etc..
And, like you, I am anxiously awaiting his next book!
Thamks again! :-)
B. Balles

February 24, 2010 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger HUIting said...

Hello! Mr Cody! Me and my sister we love your books. and i am so going to make all of my friends read them , especially "abandoned".
I just finished reading the book last night, and yes, it terrifys me in everyway.now I still can't stop thinking about it.

February 24, 2010 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger kiwigirl said...

Hi Cody, I just wanted to thank you for being my number 1 favourite author, it used to be Karin Slaughter but she will have to settle for 2nd place now. I have all four of your books and have lent them out to family and friends getting them as hooked on you as I am.
You would have to be the darkest author I have ever read and I mean that in a good way, please keep writing and if there any chance you make to New Zealand I would love to meet you and perhaps you could sign a copy of one of my books . . . can't wait for the next installment, Cheers Ann

February 25, 2010 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger darkdragon8987 said...

Just wanted to give a shout out to our little inside "Criminal Minds" bloggers as well. It's kind of wierd how we all connect with that show, but when the season started this past Wednesday, I thought about all of you- including you, Mr. Mcfadyen. At least we all have a show to look forward to, while we patiently await your next novel!!
(And was that a SICK start to the season, or WHAT???)

March 6, 2010 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Cody McFadyen said...

Brigitte, Southernbelle, Hulting, Kiwigirl, thanks for joining in here, and thank you very much for the comments.

James - yes, I've gotten quite a bit of email about him, second only to Kirby. James is an enigma to me at the moment, and I've been saving him for the right book. Maybe the next one...

Karin Slaughter - She's in my personal Top 5, kiwigirl. I got to meet her (once and briefly) at Thrillerfest. Very hard hitting stories, an excellent, excellent writer.

Lot of Criminal Minds fans here. The show is superb, I hope they keep it the way it is. I used to watch CSI (the original, not the spin offs) but stopped when William Petersen left the show. No offense to Mr. Fishburne at all, but I was already looking to shave shows off my list, and decided to end it there. Criminal Minds is a new favorite, along with The Mentalist, Burn Notice and Fringe. Criminal Minds, for me, is my "serious" show. Not quite as hardcore as The Shield was, but then, what is...?

DarkDragon, if by "sick start to the season" you meant "awesome", yes, I'd have to agree. :)

March 10, 2010 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger darkdragon8987 said...

Dear Mr. McFadyen,
Glad to hear back from you so soon- thought you went to Germany? (where I was born). Anyway, yes, of course I meant last week's new episode of "Criminal Minds" was awesome, but in a "sick" way- you know what I mean! And I'll tell you what's weird: In my first blog to you, to comment on your new book, and mentioned that I watched, (and compared your writing), to "Criminal Minds", I swear that I was going to mention that I also liked "Burn Notice", and "The Mentalist", as well. But I didn't figure that you would consider them "real" enough to watch. I think they just happen to have the whole "cast thing" going on; that makes them both likable, and fun. And I was also going to tell you, that up until we had "Criminal Minds", I was an avid CSI (the original), fan also. Because, at that time, it WAS the only seemingly "real" show on. But, like you, I stopped watching even after Sarah left. I don't like when you have a remarkable cast, that you look forward to watching every week, and then somebody has to change it up. It happens to the majority of shows. It would be like you changing your "team" around, eg., having Agent Barrett getting killed, and another takes her place, and then you'd have to present a "new team player", etc. I firmly believe, we'd all lose interest in your books. Don't get me wrong- introducing NEW characters in the future would be great, and is almost inevitable, but I think you catch my drift here.
By the way, do you accept ideas, thoughts, theories, etc., for your stories, or do you prefer that to be anonymous? Just a question- maybe people e-mail you w/ these things? I figure you're way to busy to e-mail, so I wouldn't pursue that avenue.
I do want to thank you again, for being a genuine person- reading our blogs, and responding- INDIVIDUALLY, EVEN!! I don't know you personally, but you seem to be a swell person. On that note, how about a "new" blog? You DON'T suck, and we need to hear something a little more upbeat- how 'bout it??
Best to you, Mr. McFadyen- gotta go- one hour until "showtime" (EST)! Bet this week will be even better than last!
Thank you again, for caring, and staying connected- we ALL appreciate it!!
Sincerely,
B. Balles

March 10, 2010 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger MT said...

I have read all four of your books. I have to admit I don't read many books, but the thing I like most about your books is that you don't just 'create' a criminal, you give them their identity. you don't just say that they did this, they killed that person, etc. but everything is connected, everything happens for a reason. That's what amazes me the most.

I'm really looking forward to your next book. And thanks a lot for having these blog posts, because I love your writing style so much, so it's just like another way to get to read while waiting for your books.

Sincerely
MT

October 11, 2010 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger mandithera said...

Hey Mr. McFadyen and all the rest of you out there! I thought I was the only "twisted" one that I knew but I see that there are more of yall out there! I love gore and mystery and horror and I get it all from your books. I started off reading The Face of Death because I go to B&N and randomly grab books that catch my interest and this one JUMPED out at me. I am a very emotional person and I literally felt like I was "in" your books and going through every situation right there with Smokey and the team. I would be so into the story that I would be crying and wouldnt even realize it until I put the book down for the night. It was such a roller coaster of emotions. I was hooked after that. I went back and bought the rest of the series and read them in the right order....and I'm soooooo ready for your 5th book! I think it is just fantastic that there are more people out there that love CSI (the origional) and Criminal Minds too!!! I couldnt watch CSI after Grissom left either...it just didn't feel right anymore. So then I got hooked on Criminal Minds...I literally went and bought all of the seasons and had a Criminal Minds marathon night (my boyfriend thought I was crazy!!!! ha ha) but it is such a great show!!! Anyway I just wanted to say that I love your books and it is just amazing that you can capture all of those feelings and emotions and make folks feel like they are "RIGHT THERE"!!! I seriouly am so excited for your next book! Hope you are having fun!

December 7, 2010 at 4:04 PM  
Blogger tish said...

Am just finishing Abandoned & Truly hope you are in a room being fed by iv's & writing, writing, writing!!! Am going back from the first & re-reading all of yours. The downside of being a fast & compulsive reader is that I finish them Way too fast!! Keep "em coming!!!

December 20, 2010 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

Greetings from the uk!

Hi, I just wanted to drop by and exclaim about how amazing your books are. I found Shadow Man purely by chance in a charity shop and started reading the first page, and then just read every available second until it was finished. When I found out you'd created a series around these amazingly complex characters I bought them all and have just finished reading them much to my dismay. I'm a big crime book reader but your books are so very different in that they deal with such dark circumstances and also with the psychology behind the killers. I love them. In fact I just purchased another copy of Shadow man tonight to send to a friend for her birthday, safe in the knowledge that she's going to consume it like I did. I could prattle on for pages about how much I love them but I shan't babble on.
Just know that you have a fan in the uk eagerly awaiting the next one..assuming there is going to be another one (there better be! :D )

Sarah

January 3, 2011 at 2:57 PM  

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