Scary comic books, nineteenth-century American literature (especially Poe, Hawthorne, and James), plus every genre in-between have influenced AB’s writing.
Teaching adolescent boys and working with high-testosterone Silicon Valley tekkies opened up new insights into neuroanatomy and behavioral psychology. AB reads widely in this area to learn more about how the brain affects our emotions.
She lives in the shadow of Google. She writes and walks daily. She participates in a brain-building aerobic dance class three times a week.
Find her blogging every second Tuesday: thestilettogang.blogspot.com/
• How can a smart, cute child be unlovable from birth?
• Why would parents turn a blind eye to bullying by an older sibling?
• How much psychological abuse should an eleven-year-old boy take before he retaliates?
These are a few of the quesitons eleven-year-old prodigy Michael Romanov asks every day. What is wrong with him? He’s handsome. Clean. Well spoken. No physical deformities. He doesn’t torture cats or tear the wings off insects.
Yet his mother would rather cuddle a cobra than meet his gaze. He doesn’t remember the last time she touched him. Maybe because she’s too bosessed with lavjshing his older brother with affection. Praise. Love. Never a reprimand for his bullying of Michael.
Michael’s father, absent too much on business, colludes with the two by turning a blind eye to his younger son’s growing alienation. Left to deal with the daily physical and mental abuse, Michael relies more and more on his only friend. Dimitri–perhaps his father’s bastard—but raised with Michael. Like Michael, he’s different. Not so different, though, that fellow students, teachers, and adults shy away from him as if he’s an alien.
In a moment of retaliation, Michael strikes back. In a single instance, he exacts justice from his brother and his mother. He shares his brilliance with Dimitri, and they rejoice. They love outwitting the plodding police. Their success makes them bolder. They venture further and further into becoming unredeemable. Their unrepentance grows. Michael, especially, slips into his role of misfit with ease. And with the intention to inflict more pain on the family he abhors.
He targets his mother for more heartache. He feels no guilt. No desire to embrace the family. His lies become more sophisticated and more advantageous. Every day he circumvents the mores of his upper-class world, thumbing his nose at their exclusion.
Lying. Stealing. Killing. Michael develops a code of conduct that knows no boundaries. Once unconvinced he was unlovable, he now believes absolutely no one loves him. He contends he no longer expects or wants love.
The Early Years probes deeply into the raw pain stemming from neglect and abuse, asking if love can save a budding psychopath?
A phone call to police headquarters finally sent Detective Bensen flying down the stairs and out of the house. “Please give your mother my deepest regards. I may have more news for her later.”
The skin at the back of my neck suddenly stung. What did he mean more news? What else could he report? My older brother was dead. An unfortunate accident.
Dimitri frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Let’s go find my father. I’ll tell you everything on the way.”
We left the house without informing Ingrid. She was a servant. She had absolutely no control over me. If forced to tell the truth, she’d admit she liked having me and Dimitri gone as much as possible.
The wind had reached squall conditions. Ski masks provided some protection, but snow gusts reduced visibility and the chances of finding a taxi. But Dimitri and I had the blood of Russians in our veins. We were ten and eleven year-old boys wrapped up like polar bears. Tramping out the two miles to my father’s office gave me the opportunity to relate what I had done at the train station.
As I had expected, Dimitri congratulated me on my boldness. He—out of loyalty to me—despised Alexei with perhaps an equal level of passion.
The small villa my father kept for his mistress faced the North Sea. That morning, waves surged over the protective rock barrier like furious Norse gods determined to exact justice. Sea water swamped the residential street, and turned the sidewalk into a quagmire of slush and debris.
Neither Dimitri nor I admitted fatigue out loud, but my legs wobbled the last block. Yet my physical weariness heightened my anticipation. I pounded the front door, jabbed the bell, and braced myself for consequences I might not like. My father was not my mother. He would curse the god he disavowed.
The maid who answered the door stared at us as if we were ghosts.
Which might explain why she started to close the door. Dimitri stuck his foot in the opening.
“I am here to see my father Nikolai Romanov. It is urgent.”
When she didn’t move, Dimitri muscled his way inside. I dogged his heels. My bones and joints melted in the small, overheated foyer. The reek of hothouse roses plugged my sinuses. Our house in Hellerup showcased orchids which my mother cultivated. And why not? She spent no time cultivating our mother-son relationship.
The maid lifted her scrawny chest and drew herself up to Dimitri’s broad, powerful shoulders. He grinned at their reflections in the ornate floor-to-ceiling mirror. Words gurgled in the back of the maid’s throat. She turned and fled.
My father stormed into the small foyer. Dressed in unbuttoned trousers and soft slippers, he charged toward me and Dimitri. Russian, German, and Danish curses peppered his English command. “Speak.”
My bladder dropped, but I remembered Alexei slipping off the train platform and spoke with a bit of acid. “The police want to talk to you.
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