THE FACE OF DEATH by Cody McFadyen: “…I didn’t want anyone to read it and come away unscathed.”

The Face of Death is one of those disturbing things that I have to take responsibility for as coming wholly from myself. There’s no specific inspiration I can point to. I had to write my second novel, and I was lying on the couch, twirling a pen in my hand and staring at the ceiling, when the following came to me:

What if a killer, instead of killing his victim, leaves her alive, but – follows her throughout her life killing anyone and everyone she ever loves?
Heck, the TV wasn’t even on, so I can’t blame it on the box.

Ideas, the good and the bad, the moments of beauty as well ugly in what I write, come from within me. It doesn’t mean that’s who I am. It just means that when I half-close my eyes and sort of blur my vision and really reach for a concept, I usually find it. And there’s no one else there, so I guess it comes from me.

But then, that’s only the two-dimensional, grayish truth. More completely, the idea comes from the me that’s formed of everything I’ve ever seen, every book I’ve ever read, every movie I’ve ever watched, every song I’ve ever heard or sung. It comes from the times I’ve told people I loved them, and the times people have told me they hated me. It comes from the ideas of right and wrong I was imbued with by those who raised me, which I have either stuck to or betrayed. It comes from the terrible and wonderful things I’ve witnessed personally or heard about second hand. We’re all a bunch of moving parts, constantly changing based on what we come in contact with. Somehow, my moving parts came up with The Face of Death.

I am constantly fascinated by the ability of people to survive their suffering, and to thrive after recovery from difficult pasts. I decided I wanted to explore this theme in The Face of Death, and I ended up really plumbing the depths of that.

Which I guess, is kind of the selfish part of my books. They fit firmly into the thriller genre, no doubt about that, but…the who-dun-it aspect is always secondary for me to the examination of what happens when you put someone very, very bad against someone very human. I love an excuse to do that.

But beware of making judgments without all the facts in hand. The killer in The Face of Death has his own story of suffering, and once you hear it, you might be disturbed by your own inability to hate him. Then again, you might be disturbed by how much you hate him, after all.

In the end, one of the most basic, underlying things behind the book was this: I didn’t want anyone to read it and come away unscathed. I hope I accomplished that, but leave that judgment, humbly, in each reader’s capable hands.

Cody McFadyen is the author of THE FACE OF DEATH. You can visit his website at

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9 thoughts on “THE FACE OF DEATH by Cody McFadyen: “…I didn’t want anyone to read it and come away unscathed.”

  1. Wow, powerful! Thank you for being my guest today, Cody. I always love to hear the stories behind the books! Tell me, I’ve read some of your reviews on the Internet and one review mentioned some of the scenes were graphic. Can you give us an example?

  2. Thanks very much, very nice of you to say. Regarding graphic, yes, that’s been an issue for some. I think that’ll always be a divisive and very subjective thing – though I’m not denying the darkness, there. Interestingly though, quite a large percentage of my readers seem to be women – a bloodthirsty bunch, I tell ya. :)
    My view on it is simple: I don’t want to gloss over things like murder. I don’t want it to be gratuitous, but I don’t want it to be bland, either. I think you can desensitize people to violence as much by making it palatable as by overstating it. I don’t ever want anyone to read about violence in one of my books and go ‘oh, that’s not so bad.’
    Anyway, a specific… at one point, the killer has a set of parents kill each other in order to save their child. The mother strangles the father, then shoots herself. I wouldn’t call it visually graphic, the emphasis is not on the physical aspect, but it is emotionally graphic and it wrung me out to write it.

  3. I just finished reading The Face of Death and I want you to know that you made a big fan out of me. I never would have imagined that I will get teary eyed reading a serial killer novel but the story of Sarah touched me deeply. Thanks for a wonderful read. I look forward to your next novel. I really love the Smoky Barrett series.

  4. The Face of Death was a wonderful read, like Shadow Man, it left it’s own indent in the brain that needed to be though over.

  5. The death of Sarah’s family haunts me, the exchange, unspoken, between the mother and father before his/her deaths will stay with me forever. For me, this part of the book struck me down. I will not pass this book on or recommend it to anyone. I wept, I am truly haunted by the cruelty and pain that you conjured up in this chapter. I had to continue reading to make sure that humanity survived, goodness rose and hope exists.

  6. Cody how about a p.o. Box so fans of your with out computer access can holla back via. Snail mail? Big fan extremly talented writer. bj wolf via my girls email….

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