Saturday, November 5, 2011

Guest Post - Evil: Who is that masked...? by Catherine Astolfo

Happy Saturday everybody!

As you know I launched a 1000+ Giveaway yesterday and some of the authors participating are taking an active part of my blog Me and Reading during the month of November.

Catherine Astolfo is one of the participating authors. She is an author of The Bridgeman and Victim which you also can win at 1000+ Giveaway. Catherine is one of authors at Imajin Books and she agreed to write a guest post.

When I received the guest post and read it, I was delighted! Why? Read the post and you will understand me.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to one of my new author friends - Cahterine Astolfo!

Evil: Who is that masked...?

By day, I am a mild-mannered middle-aged retired elementary school Principal. By night, I am the writer of crime and mystery that often involved gruesome murders and twisted psyches. When people read my books, they usually look at me (or my mild mannered mild aged picture) and ask me where on earth I get the disgusting ideas for my crime novels. I often respond (somewhat sarcastically) have you read the newspaper lately?
I must admit that Abnormal Psychology was my favorite subject. Maybe I should try to explain before you call emergency services. I went to university after three years of teaching and many other years of wishing I were a published writer instead. When I planned my degree beforehand, I assumed that English would be my major. Then along came psychology, with its tug toward a topic by which I was mesmerized, not only in my teaching profession, but also in my writing. A perfect marriage.
I love writing crime and mystery. I love the fact that there is a puzzle or a problem, and almost always, a good solution. Most of the time, justice is served. The problem is solved, the good are rewarded and the bad are punished. Therefore any social issue can be explored. There’s no place I won’t go if the story calls for me to go there.
On top of that, I had taught children. Some of them, to quote Jonathan Kellerman in his book on violent children, were “savage spawn”. Many of them were puzzles that I never solved in my real life. From my point of view, and that of the teachers in my school, the parents often appeared normal, caring, and just as puzzled as we were. Of course, there were times when it was obvious that the home background was fractured or dysfunctional or abusive. Those students we could explain to a certain extent.
The ones who appeared to come from average, dedicated and loving parents, and yet perpetrated some pretty wicked crimes, were the children I found fascinating. Sometimes I would look into their eyes and see nothing. Flat, dead, no-conscience, emotionless expressions. A few had a kind of glow that shone as bright and hurtful as a direct flashlight beam when they chose to turn their glare on you. I was hooked on what made them tick!
Then there were the kids from abusive, neglectful or insane situations who were sweet, kind, thoughtful people. The sort I employed as Peer Helpers because they knew how to read others and how to deal with deceit and cruelty.
There are theories that psychopaths have brains that are wired differently. They feel no empathy, are narcissistic and obsessed. Reader’s Digest once published an article entitled, “Psychopaths among us”. There are those who claim that a great number of CEO’s (those people who get paid millions of dollars to hire and fire) share a great many characteristics with psychopaths and sociopaths. They just use that extra “edge” and lack of sympathy in more socially acceptable ways.
The hidden evil in some people – the ability to wear a mask of nice while seething with twisted thoughts underneath – is even more fascinating to me. Once when I was driving through a small Ontario town, I had to wait at an old-fashioned drawbridge that spanned the canal. A man in a checkered jacket was working away at the wheels, a completely blank and bored look on his broad, plain face. I began to think – what if he were a murdered in disguise?
Thus was born The Bridgeman, my first mystery novel. “I deserve no more smiles, no friendship, no pity, no love, no feather or silk or fur, no soft skin.” My character had some self-recrimination, and turned out to be capable of love, so he was not completely savage, but he was close.
The story explores the man’s ability, however, to wear a mask on a daily basis, while he couldn’t seem to resist abusing the innocent. “If anyone guessed my secret, saw into my dark perverted heart, they would loathe me even more than I despise myself.” His words belie that fact that he went about his life, an ordinary life on the surface, yet was consumed with the thrill, the power of the destruction of another being. “I sliced and cut out the pieces of what had been a living, breathing, laughing, jumping, warm creature. I was its skin, its movement, its shape, its god, its creator, its destroyer.” And you thought Dexter was bad.
From my experiences in schools, or from the newspapers, where kids shot and killed other kids, burned down a house (with their families inside), tortured and maimed animals, my character, The Bridgeman, is not so far-fetched. Nor are the other diabolical characters in the ensuing novels of my series very far from reality. They are scary, but these people do exist.
However, what I love about the world of fiction – everything turns out all right in the end. Every time!
Catherine (Cathy) Astolfo
About Cathy:

Catherine has always been a writer (she can recall writing fantasy stories for her classmates in Grade Three).  Much later, her short stories and poems were published in a number of small Canadian presses.  The day after her retirement from education became official, she started finishing her books.
The Emily Taylor Mystery series centres around an elementary school principal who becomes a reluctant sleuth through various circumstances.  She has a dark past, the details of which are not revealed until Book Four. 
In 2005, Book One, The Bridgeman, was published by Moe Publications, of Sisbro & Co. Inc. (a film production company of which Catherine is a co-owner).  The novel was honoured with a Brampton Arts Award. Books Two to Four followed from 2006 to 2010, to rave reviews.
Don Graves said this about the series and Catherine’s writing: “When I reviewed your novel, Victim (An Emily Taylor mystery) I told my readers that I had discovered an exciting writer with a poignant capacity to tell a story full of energy and passion. Description, dialogue, plotting, all developed with the skill of a seasoned mystery writer. Victim made my top 10 books for 2007. I recently read Legacy. It solidified my feeling that you are a writer in for the long haul and should mature into a mystery author of the top rank in Canada.”
In 2011, Catherine signed a four-book contract with Imajin Books for the ebook versions of the Emily Taylor series (
Catherine is a Past President of Crime Writers of Canada and is a member of Sisters in Crime (Toronto). She is co-owner of Scribes Digest, an ezine for “lovers of the written word” ( 
Selected Bibliography:
The Emily Taylor Mystery Series
The Bridgeman. Kitchener ON: Moe Publications, Sisbro & Co. Inc., 2005
Victim. Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing, 2007
Legacy.  Brampton ON: Moe Publications, Sisbro & Co. Inc., 2008
Seventh Fire: Brampton ON: Moe Publications, Sisbro & Co. Inc., 2010
The Bridgeman, Ebook, Imajin Books, 2011
"You won't catch your breath until the last page turns."—Lou Allin, author of She Felt No Pain
Victim, Ebook, Imajin Books 2011
"Victim will linger in your mind long after you've closed the book…a gifted piece of writing."—Don Graves, The Hamilton Spectator
Legacy, Ebook, Imajin Books, 2012
Seventh Fire, Ebook, Imajin Books, 2012 
Winner, Boney Pete Short Story Award, 2010
Second Place, Boney Pete Short Story Award, 2009
Winner, Brampton Arts Acclaim Award, 2005 for The Bridgeman
Winner, Principal of the Year, 2002, the Catholic Principals Council of Ontario
Winner, OECTA Award for Outstanding Service, 1998
Principal Emily Taylor feels safe in the friendly little town of Burchill—until she finds a body in her school. The murder of caretaker Nathaniel Ryeburn brings back memories she'd rather forget and plunges Emily into a mystery that involves a secret diary, an illegal puppy mill and a murderer innocently disguised as an ordinary citizen.

As fear rips through the traumatized town, Emily's investigation inadvertently leads the police to her door, and to her husband Langford, who is hiding a secret of his own. It becomes clear to Emily that many of Burchill's residents are merely wearing masks. And it's time for those masks to be ripped away…and for a killer's identity to be revealed.

Thank you so much Cathy for coming by with guest post!

I do have The Bridgeman and I cannot wait reading it!


  1. Oh my! What a combo- principal and suspense writer. I can see how the two might jive based on Cathy's explanation. Forgive me, not to take anything away from the author, if I do not have the intestinal fortitude for these stories.

    Thanks for posting!

  2. Thanks, Sophia for commenting.

  3. Cathy is an amazing author and an even more wonderful and generous person! While she was President of Crime Writers of Canada, she served as my mentor for my upcoming novel. Helpful, insightful...can't wait to finish my next book so we can do it again.