It was only after readers of Flower Girl kept urging me to know more about what made the story's antagonist Jonathan Herbert Spencer III tick that I began writing the novel's sequel, Flawless Witness.
I approached the story with curiosity and trepidation—mostly the latter, unsure whether I wanted to travel down the dark hole of Jonathan's mind. Digging into the motivations and specific behaviors associated with egocentrism, emotional abuse, betrayal, and exploitation often associated with narcissism would not be uplifting, to say the least!
But my inner voice said the story was worthwhile, and I persevered, though, after each day of writing, even a hot shower couldn't entirely remove the remnants of Jonathan's thoughts, language, or behavior. With the encouragement and input from my critique group of fellow women's fiction authors (Nicole, Frani, and Jessica), I completed the first draft and, with still some apprehension, handed it to my beta readers.
The critique of the first manuscript draft by the beta readers and the developmental edit critique by Diane Donovan—. . . that the exploration of the predator's mindset and his prey's actions and reactions deserves to be not just on bookshelves but an intrinsic part of any discussion groups centered on healing, recovery, and insights about predatory behaviors—convinced me that the benefits of Flawless Witness to readers outweighed any personal downsides I had in writing the story.
To present Jonathan's dimensions not visible in Flower Girl, I chose to include his point of view in Flawless Witness as equal to and juxtaposed to Suzanna's. I wanted to show the characters' interiority through their words rather than a narrator's. Flashbacks and journal entries were techniques used to serve this purpose and to resurrect the time when the characters' story began and ended.
Warning: Jonathan's diary contains what my mother would call salty language and indecent behavior, but likely not as offensive for today's audience. The front matter of the novella has a trigger statement: This story contains elements of sensitive material often associated with narcissistic behaviors such as egocentrism, emotional abuse, betrayal, and exploitation.
I hope, in the end, the work provides a realistic portrayal of an emotional predator's mindset and does justice for those like Suzanna who have borne witness.