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Inside The Mind of a Killer

Vero Beach-based suspense novelist Martha Powers creates a biography for all her characters, right down to the magazines they read.

Martha Powers at home in Vero Beach. “My kids seemed to want me around in the evenings,” she says. “So I wrote from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.”

Martha Powers at home in Vero Beach. “My kids seemed to want me around in the evenings,” she says. “So I wrote from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.”

Mystery writer and Vero Beach resident Martha Powers likes to get inside the head of the murderers she creates. She needs to know why they kill, or for that matter, why they do everything they do. “We are all products of our background, and so I write the biographies of my main characters, including the killer. Then I know what motivates them.”

Martha actually puts her fictional characters through a rather intensive interview process using a detailed checklist. And before they come alive in her novel, she knows their education level, their beliefs, whether they are leaders or followers, and even to which magazines they would subscribe – if they were real, that is. These details don’t necessarily make it into her finished work, but they ensure that she can keep control of the main characters as they move through her plot to a satisfying conclusion. Don’t expect that conclusion to lead to the killer spending time in prison. As the author puts it, all her bad guys “meet a nasty end.”

Read the entire article in the February 2010 issue