IndieView with Mary Ann D’Alto, author of He Counts Their Tears

Women will be fascinated by the way Aaron lures his targets. Men will finally get an answer to the looming question; why is it that women fall for the bad boys, and not the nice guys?

Mary Ann D’Alto – 2 May 2017

The Back Flap

Science calls him a Psychopath. Women call him, “the one I will never forget.”

Aaron Stein is the quintessential gentleman.  But his charm is pure Illusion.  Behind the benevolent façade is a monster; a destroyer of souls who lusts after power and control. Aaron plays his ruse again and again with unsuspecting women who genuinely believe they have met their soulmate.  Emotionally skinned alive after his abrupt departure, they continue to miss him, in spite of everything.

But suddenly his secret life is threatened by a series of events he never anticipated.  Will his devoted cousin, Constance, succeed in protecting him?  Are they merely cousins or, perhaps, something more? Did Aaron learn his evil ways from her, or is he the incarnation of Evil?  Will he be found out? Will his secret be revealed to the world, or will he manage to silence those who know him for what he truly is?  In the end, these answers will make no difference in the lives of the women who, each in turn, are charmed into becoming his victims.

About the book

What is the book about?

This book is about “that person” whose name still sends a chill up your spine; the one who got into your head and just never left.  Nearly everyone has met at least one person like that in their lifetime, or knows someone who has.  It’s not necessarily a romantic relationship (they might have presented themselves as a “new best friend”, a business partner, or perhaps a co-worker) but it was definitely a fake relationship.  These are the false people, the charming strangers who prey on others for the thrill of power and control over another person.  They are the ones who seem “too good to be true”, because they are!  They are the Psychopaths, the toxic people living among us, hiding in plain sight.

Aaron Stein, fertility specialist, devoted husband and quintessential gentleman, is one such Psychopath. He trolls for prey ( also known as “new best friends”)  moving seamlessly from one target to the next, playing his game with women’s minds.  That is what it really is to him; a game.  Each time, it is the same; meet someone new, gain their trust, figure out what they want most in life, pretend to help them realize that goal, and then leave, abruptly.  By the time he’s left, he’s taken their sanity, their self respect, and their sense of self.   They will never be quite the same ever again. It is then, in the leaving,  that Aaron relishes his victory, and counts their tears.

There’s a whole lot of mind control that takes place in the course of these fake relationships, all designed to give Aaron power over his unsuspecting “new best friend”.  That he is consistently able to play the game, move on, and not get caught is a disturbing testament to the power men like Aaron possess.  Even more disturbing is the fact that the women Aaron preys on are neither foolish nor naive.  Yet each, in turn falls under his spell. It happens because Aaron, being a Psychopath, knows how to gain a person’s trust and exploit it.

In the course of the book, Aaron merrily moves through the paces of his life, while playing his wicked game on the side.  Power is his goal, and getting caught is the ever-present danger.  Callous, ruthless, and lacking in empathy, Aaron is self-centered and easily bored, which is why he craves risk taking.  But he takes things too far with one target, and, circumstances being what they are,  it seems he is about to be found out.  That, of course, will never do.  And so Aaron takes matters into his own hands, to protect his secret.  But secrets, of course, often have lives of their own.

When did you start writing the book?

I started writing the book in the middle of a very long, exhausting day.  I had been thinking about the human mind, and how it is that some people are able to control the minds of others, like pulling the strings of a marionette.  I just picked up a pencil and started writing.   There, on the page, was a sentence, “Aaron had never noticed how thin his shoelaces were.”  I kept writing, just to see what would happen next.   The end result was He Counts Their Tears.

How long did it take you to write it?

I wrote this book over the course of one year.

Where did you get the idea from?

I had been planning to become a psychotherapist. I am an Attorney, and I got the bright idea to add to my repertoire.  I should have known this was not my dream calling when several people told me “Keep practicing law, because you’ll make a terrible psychotherapist.”  Well, the school rejected me, saying I was “just not suited”.  There I was with all this psychology knowledge, gained in anticipation of my new career.  The book sort of tumbled out of that experience.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Yes indeed! The most crucial scene in the book was a real struggle for me.  I will say this in a way that does spoil the book for those who have not yet read it.  At one point, Aaron and one of his “new best friends” share a kiss.  She is very ill and is bleeding internally, manifesting all of the symptoms of an impending stroke.  While they kiss, Aaron tastes blood on her mouth.  This was such an important scene and yet I agonized over it and in the end I was never entirely happy with it.  You see, I cannot taste (or smell) anything (from a childhood illness).  So, I have no idea what blood tastes like, and absolutely no frame of reference to understand it.   I tried asking people, but well meaning responses did little to help.  “You know, blood”; No, I don’t know.   “Sort of like tin”  I had no idea what that meant.  “Like jam gone bad, really bad.” But I’ve never tasted jam!  So, I resorted to a google search.  In the end the scene lacks any real description, which actually suits the cold-minded creature who experienced the kiss.  Even so, I would have liked to play that scene out with more deliberation.

What came easily?

The book arrived quite easily.  I would sit in front of the computer with a cup of tea, and type away.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

He Counts Their Tears is a work of Fiction.  Entirely.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I was most influenced by Dr. Robert Hare, who developed The Hare Psychopathy Checklist and wrote, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us.

Then, of course, there is the amazing E. L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey.

And Ayn Rand. I still have my catered copy of Atlas Shrugged, from college days.

Do you have a target reader?

He Counts Their Tears is intended for adults, both men and women, who want a good read and a journey into the type of hell that prevails right under the radar of everyday life.  Women will be fascinated by the way Aaron lures his targets.  Men will finally get an answer to the looming question; why is it that women fall for the bad boys, and not the nice guys?

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I do now, for the second book.  But for He Counts Their Tears, it was more a matter of just finding the time to write.  I was working full time and, quite often, very long hours.  It was very difficult to find time to write.  I would write on the subway, on the way to work, late at night, and all weekend.  I stopped playing golf, and I missed the last two seasons of Downton Abbey.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I do now, with the second book.  But I had no idea what an outline was when I wrote He Counts Their Tears.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I edited the book when it was finished.  Then I arranged for an Editor at Dog Ear Publishing to conduct a professional edit of the book.

Did you hire a professional editor?

He Counts Their Tears was professionally edited by an Editor affiliated with Dog Ear Publishing.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I listen to Mozart (Eine klein Nachtmisic, Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major).

This is the same music that saw me though Law School and the New York State Bar exam.   

 About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

Would you believe I did not even know about Agents when I wrote He Counts Their Tears! How would I? I was not even planning to write a book!  But there it was; this book!  I simply could not leave it just sitting there. So, I did some investigating, and discovered that writers sent their work to Agents.  I thought that was a good, orderly process, quite logical. In fact, the relationship between Agent and Writer sounded to me very much like the relationship we, as Lawyers, have with our Clients.  “I want that!” I thought to myself as I learned about Agents.  The only trouble was that I had very little time to devote to publishing this book, and no idea of how to approach Agents, much less the time to find one.  It was a bit like falling down the rabbit hole. I was a Lawyer, not an Author (or so I thought).  So, after a little more investigating I discovered that I could publish my book myself, which is what I did.  I own the rights to He Counts  Their Tears in the entirety, which was a main point for me in choosing a self-publishing company.

I am now seeking an Agent, for He Counts Their Tears and for its as of yet unpublished (but completed) sequel,  The Suffering  Room. I am completely amenable to the idea of treating He Counts Their Tears (and, of course, The Suffering Room) like a manuscript, and revising it.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

As I’ve said, I was entirely clueless about this process!  Courtrooms I know.  New York  law, I know.  Publishing was an alien universe.  But I’ve discovered it to be a marvelous one, and I am beyond delighted to be part of it.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

My brother (an Engineer and an Artist) designed the cover for me.  I knew I wanted a cold, stark cover, in keeping with the theme of the book.  That is why it contains nothing more than the title.  The black and white speaks to the mindset of the Psychopath, and the words are spaced in a manner that evokes the off-balanced feeling of an encounter with a man like Aaron Stein.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I have a marketing plan.   But beyond that, I am actively seeking a Literary Agent.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Keep writing.  Whatever happens, never give up, never lose your focus, and keep writing.  Oh, and support your fellow authors.  Always.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in New York.  My childhood was as close to magical as a childhood could possibly be.  I come from a family of artists, so creativity was encouraged, always, in all of its forms.  I was read to by my father from before I could distinguish between a book and a person.  I knew every New York Museum before I’d even started school.  My mother nurtured in us a genuine love of classical music, using child-like stories to explain the various symphonies.  I remember learning the Hyde’s Surprise Symphony by hearing the story of a King who asked Hayden to write a piece of music to awaken his guests, who always fell asleep after dinner at the palace.  Central Park was our wonderland, where I learned about nature, history, and my own imagination.

Where do you live now?

I live in New York.  I still love the Museums.

What would you like readers to know about you?

That I have something to say.  Here it is:

Dear Reader,  Thank you for reading my book. He Counts Their Tears tells the story of the evil that lurks in our world, hiding in plain sight.  I would love to hear your impressions of it, whatever those impressions may be!  Please leave a review on my Amazon site.  I want to know what you think of Aaron, and men like him.  Oh, and tell me your impressions of the women he’s ruined.  You will be seeing them again in the sequel, which is due out next!

What are you working on now?

I am editing my next book, which is  the sequel to He Counts Their Tears. It remains unpublished as I seek out a Literary Agent.   The Suffering Room picks up right where He Counts Their Tears ends.  Our wicked boy has a bit of a problem, and the proverbial walls are closing in on him.  You see, Aaron’s life takes a rather public turn when he becomes a Political Candidate.  The ever present concern that he may be “found out” is escalated by the Election.  Selfish to the core, he returns to the women he’s ruined, one by one,  in an effort to keep  them from revealing  the truth about him. In the end, well, you will just have to read The Suffering Room to find out what happens!

End of Interview:

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Get your copy of He Counts Their Tears from Amazon US or Amazon UK.


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