Guest Post: Snakes in the Grass by Alice Blanchard, author of A Breath after Drowning

Guest Post A Breath After Drowning


I featured A Breath After Drowning   as a Can’t Wait Wednesday pick recently and am happy to be part of the blog tour that kicked off on 9 April. Here’s the blurb:

The stunning new psychological thriller from the award-winning author of Darkness Peering and The Breathtaker.

Child psychiatrist Kate Wolfe’s world comes crashing down when one of her young patients commits suicide, so when a troubled girl is left at the hospital ward, she doubts her ability to help. But the girl knows things about Kate’s past, things she shouldn’t know, forcing Kate to face the murky evidence surrounding her own sister’s murder sixteen years before, bringing Kate face to face with her deepest fear.                     

I am officially busting to know how a young girl knows anything about Kate’s past, and how it all links to her sister’s murder. It tell you just enough to get your — my — interest piqued.

I joined up on a blog tour for this book when I first learned about A Breath after Drowning, before realising how soon it was coming up. But Alice Blanchard was kind enough to send along a post for the tour.

Snakes in the Grass 

One day, when I was a little girl, I saw a slender green snake slither through the tall grass behind our house.  It was so pretty, I tried to pick it up.  It bit me and zigzagged away.

I broke down crying and asked my mother why the snake hurt me like that and, while wrapping a band-aid around my finger, she said, “Some of the most beautiful things in the world can be dangerous.”

That became a source of lingering mystery for me—how was I supposed to know when I was safe or when I was in danger?  How could I tell if a thing was treacherous or if it was harmless?

What my mom was really saying was that it’s important to know your enemy.  Because sometimes, by the time you recognize evil, it’s already too late.

As an author of psychological thrillers, I try to play on this duality by humanizing my villains and making them three-dimensional so that they feel real. 

Here are some of my favorite snakes in the grass.

Annie Wilkes in “Misery”

Author Paul Sheldon makes a big mistake when he decides to kill off the main character of his bestselling romance series.  Then he finishes the book he really wants to write and heads home during a snowstorm.  But in his haste to leave, Sheldon drives off a mountain and crashes his car, shattering both legs.  Along comes a local nurse to the rescue—played with delicious banality by Kathy Bates.  Annie bandages his wounds and keeps him in pain meds, as the snowfall mounts outside.  Sheldon is just grateful to be alive.  At first Annie seems like a giddy, gullible bookworm, doting over the special guest in her house.  But, as with all great villains, things aren’t what they seem.  Annie goes off the rails when she discovers Sheldon has killed off Misery Chastain, and she demands that he write a happier ending—and until he does, Paul is her bedridden prisoner.  Annie’s transformation into a homicidal maniac frightens us more than if she’d been obviously evil from the beginning.

Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Nurse Ratched looks like an angel of mercy in her crisp white uniform, but she’s actually a cruel, power-mad tyrant.  The more you look at her, the more freakishly tight her smile becomes.  She’s a control freak from hell who does everything by-the-book, and won’t allow the patients in her charge a single, independent thought—she is everything our antihero McMurphy is not.  When McMurphy enters Nurse Ratched’s rigid little world, she recognizes her mortal enemy, and their clash is inevitable.  As the rebellion against her escalates, Ratched tightens her grip and gets her revenge, lobotomizing McMurphy.  We depend on nurses to heal us, not kill us—which makes Ratched an especially scary snake in the grass.

Alex Forrest in “Fatal Attraction”

Publishing executive Alex Forrest—played brilliantly by Glenn Close in the 1987 filmrefuses to be “ignored” by the married man she seduces at a party.  New York lawyer Dan Gallagher can’t take his eyes off her.  She promises Dan a no-strings affair, but she’s lying.  She tells him, “I can be discreet, can you?”  But after they have sex he treats it like a simple tryst, and the story twists—Alex becomes obsessed with him.  Even though Dan’s a lousy husband who cheats on his wife, Alex has trapped him into her psychosis, weaving paranoid delusions about their future together.  When he goes back to his wife, she makes Dan’s life a living hell.  These characters are so persuasive we don’t know who to root for.  Certainly not Alex, who boils his daughter’s bunny.  And not Dan, who attempts too late in the game to rescue his marriage.  Beneath Alex’s successful veneer lies a terrifying neediness that evolves into psychosis.

Catherine Tramell in “Basic Instinct”

Catherine Tramell is a bestselling author who’s as gorgeous as she is venomous.  When the cops suspect her of murdering her lover with an ice pick, she flaunts her sexuality in the interview room and relishes the power and control she has over these detectives who suspect her of murder.  She hypnotizes them like a cobra.  And in the end, nobody knows if she’s a genius playing mind games, or a ruthless serial killer. 

These snakes slither through the tall grass of the tall tales we love.  Be careful where you step.

Bio:  Alice Blanchard’s new psychological thriller “A Breath After Drowning” (Titan Books) comes out on April 10, 2018.  Visit her website:  Or follow her on Twitter:

Who are your favourite Snakes in the Grass? 


  • Kelly says:

    Ahhhh Alex Forrest, the woman who instilled fear in unfaithful men all over the world. I remember the first time seeing that and was as equally shocked as I was disturbed, compelling viewing. I had no idea that both Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct were both adapted novels though I must track those down. Another one is The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. I love a great psychological thriller!

    • Verushka says:

      The Hand that Rocks the Cradle was soooo scary when it came out — and Single White Female too. I actually need to watch Fatal Attraction — I only know it for Glenn Close being in it, and forgot everything else.

  • Lily says:

    that is an interesting post! I can see how the author can draw inspiration for that. I have not read any of those books, but have heard a bunch of really good things about some of them, especially Misery

  • That is an interesting story and thing to draw inspiration from. But that’s one of those thought-provoking things about life, how you can’t tell whether someone is bad just by looking at them, so it makes sense to explore that in books!

  • Jenea’s Book Obsession says:

    All four of these are such great movies. They definitely gives pretty inspiration.

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