A Predatory Mind


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A Predatory Mind NOTES AND INSPIRATIONS  Martin Hill Ortiz


My chief inspiration for writing A Predatory Mind was Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, in my opinion still the best haunted house story ever written. As for too many others of this select genre, I become irritated by two problems which creep up: Why don't they just leave? And, along the same lines, why don't they just play it safe? To get around these annoyances I decided to have the action take place over a relatively short period of time. Furthermore, my characters do try to stay safe, they do try to escape.

I also borrowed from the predicament of the scientists in Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. This was adapted into the film versions of The Thing. If you don't know who among you is a killer, what should you do?

Written a year after Campbell's classic, the characters in Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie faced a similar dilemma. I tried to play my reader's expectations off of those set in that book.

Of course I received inspiration from Erik Larsen's non-fiction The Devil in the White City. I had known about Holmes before reading this, but he succeeded in making the plight of the Pitezel children was so chillingly memorable. Tesla also appeared briefly in this book and I first speculated on whether they had met.

I had written a short piece with the character of Gordon Rickert about ten years back. At that time I imagined him being more of a charlatan, a phony ghosthunter. I knew I had the beginning of something, but not what. 

Finally, Tesla and Holmes each provided me inspirations of their own. Tesla for his sense that fantasies were mere engineering puzzles and for his belief that science can make anything short of miracles. Holmes inspired the depths of the horror. Each sitting on a shoulder as I wrote, Tesla was my Jules Verne, Holmes, my Hannibal Lecter.

There are such striking contrasts between the two personalities. Holmes imagined himself an inventor. Tesla was the real deal. Holmes's madness was toxic to the world, Tesla suffered his alone. Holmes was utterly selfish, Tesla was selfless to the point of ascetism.

This novel lends itself to sequels. I have planned out a trilogy.


The first three chapters
The Breiland Library


A Predatory Mind is available from Loose Leaves Publishing for ordering in soft cover or electronic editions.

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copyright 2013, Martin Hill Ortiz