By Josie Brown
Seriously, would it surprise you if one turned out to be a psychotic killer?
In Pamela Crane’s thriller, THE HALO EFFECT, fledgling screenwriter Haley Montgomery meets a producer willing to make her latest project into a film. One catch: he’s also obsessed with her. When he becomes her stalker, the term “I’m your biggest fan” takes on a new meaning.
The release of her book gave me the perfect opportunity to ask Pamela about her own obsessions: writing novels and riding horses…
In THE HALO EFFECT, the catalyst of the plot hinges on the mental health disorder known “erotomania.” How did you come to hear about this disorder, and what was the “a ha!…” moment, where you came to the realization that there was a plot there?
The book is loosely based on my own experience with an erotomaniac, and my interactions with this person sparked the idea to tell my story. In fact, writing this story was somewhat therapeutic for me. Originally the book explored the depths of the disorder, then I tweaked the plot until it took a life of its own and became its own tale apart from mine.
In what way is Haley like you–and in what ways is she not anything like you?
I empathize with Haley as she and I both share a desire to dream big. She aspires to be a screenplay writer, and likewise, I always wanted to be a writer… almost to the point of losing ourselves to this dream. We both also suffered from a broken past, which molds who we are. How we differ, however, is that Haley has trouble letting go of the past, where I don’t struggle with that. While I certainly have moments of nostalgia, I thrive on taking steps forward, not living in the past.
Do you consider yourself a plotter (in other words, that you outline your book before you start writing) or a pantser (fly by the seat of your pants and let the story come out of you however it does
I’m a little bit of both. I tend to be structured, so I like outlining my plot and characterizations before I begin, but I love when the plot takes me on tangents I didn’t anticipate. It gives the characters free rein to lead the story where they choose. My twist ending came about this way.
You begin the book in a male voice, first person. Was it easy to find his voice inside of you?
I spent more time than I would like to admit trying to figure out what erotomaniacs feel and think, mainly so I could understand my real-life stalker and predict what he might do next, so slipping into that voice was relatively easy for me. Plus, I’ve always liked psychological exploration—discovering what lurks in the dark recesses of the mind—so it came natural to step outside of myself and write from that point of view.
When pumping up the thrills, was it hard to balance the romantic plot elements?
In this case it came easy, since erotomania is a love-based fantasy mental illness. An erotomaniac feels intensely, loves intensely, but it all takes place within the mind. So creating that romance was part of the disorder. However, there are other real relationships that develop within the story, so I had to keep a steady balance of reality within the fantasy.
What is your favorite scene in the book, and why?
My favorite scene within the book is when I uncover the mental illness for the first time. I had to get pretty creative when figuring out how to reveal the “villain” and the villain’s mental illness, since it’s unexpected. It’s a fine line between providing sufficient clues without giving away the ending, but I hope I achieved that.
What author has had the most influence on you, and why?
Must I pick only one? Wow, that’s a toughie. I read and enjoy so many authors, but I suppose one that sticks out in my head is Steven James, because his books are riveting and edgy, and I love how much detail he goes into regarding the psychological sociopathic characters.
I love the fact that you’re an equestrian! In what way is writing a book like riding a horse?
No matter how many times you fall off, you gotta get back on! The writing process can be grueling, especially making time for it, and I’d fall behind schedule and have to get myself back on track. Then the submissions process was the same thing—I’d get a rejection and want to give up, but then I had to “get back on the horse” and keep submitting. Eventually riding it out became worth it when I had a book I loved and a publisher who loved it pick it up. Though, I can’t say I fully tamed my Arabian horse just yet. We still have our trouble spots!
What’s next up for you?
I am currently finishing up a novella about what happened to one of the characters’ missing ex-wife. In THE HALO EFFECT the readers get some brief details that Allen Michaels’ ex’s disappearance was under investigation, but the novella shows exactly what happened. I plan to give it away as a freebie accompaniment book to THE HALO EFFECT.
Pamela Crane has always been intrigued by anything psychological, which is the basis for much of her writing. She is a member of the ACFW and EFA, and has been involved in the ECPA, Christy Awards, and Romance Writers of America. Along with delving into people’s minds, she enjoys being a mom and riding her proud Arabian horse—when he lets her. She has a passion for adventure, and her hopes are to keep earning enough from her writing to travel the world in search of some good story material.
To learn more about Pamela, please visit her website.