The Psychologist’s Shadow by Laury A. Egan, Spotlight &, Guest Post!
“…a ‘I-read-it-in-two-days’ book. Egan creates a gifted analyst and gripping case studies of her clients, one of whom is a disturbed admirer. The novel delivers chills in a highly sophisticated, wise, and ultimately poignant psychodrama.”—Karla Linn Merrifield, author of Psyche’s Scroll
The Psychologist’s Shadow by Laury A. Egan
Category: Adult Fiction (18+), 336 pages
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publisher: Enigma Books, imprint of Spectrum Books, UK
Release date: Nov 18, 2023
Tour dates: Nov 20 to Dec 8
Content Rating: PG-13. One scene of violence, no sexual scene
In October 1992, Dr. Ellen Haskell began a new therapy practice in Princeton after a tragic error with a former client. Demoralized by her failure, Ellen strives to restore her emotional and professional confidence. Her parents have departed for Greece, leaving Ellen alone in their secluded country house. As the reader is introduced to her roster of clients through their individual sessions, Ellen becomes unnerved when she receives hang-up phone calls and a series of bizarre gifts from an anonymous admirer—at first at her office and then at home. As the obsessive lover increasingly invades her life, Ellen’s anxiety crescendos and she begins to fear the stalker’s behavior will escalate into violence.
The Psychologist’s Shadow is a portrait of a compassionate, introspective therapist who finds herself in a dangerous struggle with an unknown stalker. The novel is a simmering literary suspense, one in which tension accumulates as the reader gains insights during sessions with clients—one of whom may be the psychologist’s shadow—and through the stalker’s journal entries, which serve as a discordant counterpoint.
A Writer’s Secret
Readers: May I confess to a secret attraction? I enjoy writing about disturbed, “bad-guy” characters. Robert Louis Stevenson, the creator of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—the quintessential good/bad guy invention—was probably terrifically enamored with his Mr. Hyde. Like Stevenson, I suspect many authors find it fascinating to immerse themselves in someone who is a complete contrast to their novel’s hero and (hopefully) a person very different from themselves.
I’ve even heard several writers admit that forging a dangerous persona is more interesting than writing about a virtuous protagonist. When I hear this, I think of Patricia Highsmith, who loved her sociopaths, probably because she was on the sociopathic spectrum herself. Did she identify with her most famous creation, Tom Ripley? Put money on it. For myself, though definitely not in the sociopathic category, some of my favorite characters have been killers or emotionally unbalanced people.
For The Psychologist’s Shadow, my goal was to create a light/dark dichotomy, which is subtly reflected in the title: the good, “white-hat” therapist versus her dark, obsessive shadow. As I wrote these two parts, I frequently had to rein in my temptation to lengthen the stalker’s journal entries—interspersed throughout—in order to avoid providing too many clues about the person’s
Another example of a classic Jekyll/Hyde structure is in my forthcoming 2024 novel, Jack & I, about a boy with dissociative identity disorder. The “host” Jack is honest, introverted, and plagued by his other half; the alternate personality is amoral and manipulative. The novel is told from both perspectives: the host in first person and the alter in third person, though I admit that it was more engrossing to be in the alter’s head. While I wouldn’t want to meet some of my villains in person, it’s absorbing to delve into their thoughts and feelings and to understand what impels their behavior. I believe film viewers are equally drawn to evil characters.
Think of the unforgettable Hannibal Lecter!
Another plus for me, as the author of The Psychologist’s Shadow, was having the opportunity to compose a sampler of diverse clients, each of whom suffers from mental health issues; to imagine their histories, personalities, and problems; how they would speak, behave, and dress, a process which was similar to writing case studies while at university. For this novel, it was a great pleasure to don a psychologist’s hat to “treat” each person, thus giving the reader a voyeuristic perch to observe, analyze, and search for clues during therapeutic conversations.
Wrapping Ellen’s story around her clients’ lives and inserting the enigmatic journal entries by the stalker, was like being granted a chance to perform all the roles in a drama. Writers do have fun!
Thank you for featuring my novel!
Meet the Author:
Laury A. Egan is the author of eleven novels, The Firefly; Once, Upon an Island; Wave in D Minor; Turnabout; Doublecrossed; The Swimmer; The Ungodly Hour; A Bittersweet Tale; Fabulous! An Opera Buffa; The Outcast Oracle; and Jenny Kidd; in addition to a collection, Fog and Other Stories. Four limited-edition poetry volumes have been published: Snow, Shadows, a Stranger; Beneath the Lion’s Paw; The Sea & Beyond” and Presence & Absence.”She lives on the northern coast of New Jersey.