Sunday, February 6, 2022



My new novel, entitled Girl Obsessed, was released last week.  It is a psychological thriller that delves into the make-up of relationships.   When does self-interest become manipulation? When does passion become obsession?

The story is that of a defense attorney, Sam Paris, who, when seeking to exonerate his client of murder, enlists the aid of Dr. Shannon Clark. Clark is a noted psychiatrist who has written a book about oxytocin, a hormone associated with mothers and the bonds they form with their newborns.  The doctor claims that in some instances, oxytocin, sometimes referred to as "the love-glue" or the "cuddle chemical," can cause a woman to become obsessively and possibly dangerously attached to her partner.  As Sam's relationship with Shannon grows, he comes to believe that she has disturbing issues of her own and may, in fact, be more dangerous than the woman he is defending. 

Girl Obsessed turns in several directions, but at the core, the question remains:

Can a mere hormone drive a woman to commit murder?

I invite you to find out for yourself.

Girl Obsessed (Black Opal Books)

For those of you interested in my interview with The Big Thrill magazine about the book, here is the link:

Hope you enjoy the read, and if you do, I'd appreciate a positive review😊


Sunday, January 9, 2022


Years ago, I posted about one of my favorite genres: the supernatural thriller.  As many of you know, I have had two thrillers air on Lifetime TV: Stolen from the Womb and My Mother's Killer Boyfriend (original title The Narcissist), neither of which were supernatural.  I thought that with my latest novel, a thriller entitled Girl Obsessed (also not supernatural), about to be released at the end of the month, it was time I re-posted the following article, which details the supernatural thriller.  Though I have, until now, always written straightforward thrillers or mysteries, I'd like to try my hand at including a supernatural element in a story at some point.  

                                            THE SUPERNATURAL THRILLER

Like most of us who enjoy being frightened by things that go bump in the night, I appreciate a good ghost story. When I was young, my Uncle Hank used to bring my cousins and me together while he told us 'scary stories.' I don't recall much about the stories themselves other than that they served their purpose and probably scared us half to death.

          Do kids still enjoy being frightened in that way? I think so. Books like R.L. Stine's Goosebumps are popular for good reason. Adults often forget that there is a magic to be found in reading these stories and having someone read them to you.

           I used to bring a book of scary stories into my son's fifth-grade classroom on Friday afternoons. I'd turn out the lights, and accompanied by a lit candle, proceed to read spooky stories. Years later, a young man approached me and told me that he was in that class and that those stories encouraged him to read. (Some suggestions of which spooky books kids enjoy?  I'd offer up any of the collection of 'true ghost stories' or a classic like Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes."  On Halloween, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is always a favorite.)

          It stands to reason then that one of my favorite movie genres is the supernatural thriller. I'm not speaking now of the ones that fall into the category of horror films, such as The Omen, but rather those in which the supernatural elements are often tied to a mystery and, frequently, a murder. 

Listed below are some of my all-time favorite supernatural thrillers, in no particular order of preference:


1.    THE UNINVITED (1944)  Starring Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, and Gail Russell, this is about a good a ghost story as you're going to get. A composer and his sister purchase an old house dirt cheap along the English coast. The reason it's such a bargain, of course, is that it's haunted. What makes this movie so unique is that it was the first film to treat the subject of ghosts in a non-comical way and it does not have a copout ending.

2.    GHOST (1990) This film had so many elements going for it. A good, suspenseful story, a love so strong, it survived death (Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore portraying Sam and Molly), a brilliant comic performance by Whoopy Goldberg, all backed by the haunting song, Unchained Melody.

3.    THE GIFT (2000) Not only was this a quiet gem for this genre, it boasts an incredibly talented ensemble: Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves, Katie Holmes, Greg Kinnear, Hilary Swank, Michael Jeter, and Gary Cole. Well worth getting a hold of.

4.    WHAT LIES BENEATH (2000) The wife (Michele Pfeiffer) of a university professor (Harrison Ford) thinks that she is either going insane or that her Vermont home is haunted. Something sinister is definitely going on – and she doesn't know the half of it!

5.    THE SIXTH SENSE (1999) Famous line to come out of this movie, "I see dead people." A movie many viewers went to see twice, though saying why would spoil it for those who haven't seen it. I don't think M. Night Shyamalan's subsequent movies ever came close to this one.

6.    GHOST STORY (1981) Based on Peter Straub's novel, Ghost Story tells the tale of the ramifications of having covered up a 50-year-old murder.

7.    SHUTTER ISLAND (2010) This Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio was set in 1954. Solid story with, I think, a good twist ending though some found it to be confusing.

8.    THE DEAD ZONE (1983) Based on the Stephen King novel, The Dead Zone stars Christopher Walkin and Brooke Adams. Like all Stephen King stories, the plot is carefully developed. An especially creepy performance by Martin Sheen as a corrupt politician.

9.    STIR OF ECHOES (1999) Written by master storyteller, Richard Matheson, Stir of Echoes tells the story of Tom Witzke (Kevin Bacon) a man who, having been hypnotized, begins to get disturbing flashes of an unsolved murder).

10. FALLEN (1998) Starring Denzel Washington and John Goodman and directed by Gregory Hoblit (I knew Greg back in the days when he worked on Hill Street Blues). A terrific story about the transference of evil and a very effective and eerie use of the Rolling Stones' "Time is on My Side."

11. FREQUENCY (2000) Another film directed by Greg Hoblit, Frequency, starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel, is often described as a sci-fi thriller. I suppose this is because it involves time travel. I feel that this in itself and that fact that it incorporates a murder, qualifies it as a supernatural thriller.

Thanks for joining me on Rhodes Less Traveled, and I invite you to pick up a copy of Girl Obsessed when it is released. (Amazon January 2022) In the mean time you might want to check out ---

Holiday Spirits (short story: The Greatest Christmas Gift of All)

If You Should Read This, Mother

Monday, November 8, 2021



Is there anything better than sitting in a favorite chair from November through December, sipping some hot chocolate, and either watching a favorite Christmas movie or reading a book that evokes memories of the holidays?

            As far as books go, I have been fortunate to have had a short story included in a soon to be released anthology of holiday stories, entitled Holiday Spirits: a collection of eclectic stories written by authors from around the world.

            Movies? It is for good reason that many people enjoy binge watching all those Hallmark Christmas movies while they wrap presents, bake cookies, and make their way through ribbon and tinsel strewn carpets.

            While it’s true that these stories are somewhat formulaic to say the least, this seems to be irrelevant to viewers. Just as driving in one’s car listening to Nat King Cole crooning The Christmas Song or Mariah Carey belting out All I Want for Christmas puts one in the holiday spirit, so do Hallmark Christmas movies for many people.

            Of course, classic feature films that are aired perennially also elicit those feelings. Depending on your age and taste, there is a huge selection of Christmas movies guaranteed to make you want to take out those reindeer ears and pour yourself a glass of rum infused eggnog.

            I’ve compiled a list of 10 such films, some traditional, others not, that for a variety of reasons say Christmas. See if you can match the title with the logline.

Enjoy the quiz, and enjoy your Christmas movies:

1.    It’s a Wonderful Life                             7. Miracle on 34th Street

2.    Home Alone                                          8. Diehard

3.    A Christmas Story                                9. Desk Set

4.    Holiday Affair                                     10. Going My Way

5.    White Christmas                                 11. The Bishop’s Wife

6.    A Christmas Carol                              12. Elf


a.   Two talented army buddies help out their former general who is now retired.

b.   Researchers at a broadcasting network library, whose job it is to come up with answers to callers’ questions fear they will lose their jobs to computer technology. (When Google came along their fears would be warranted).

c.    An angel comes down to answer a prayer, but the person who has made that prayer is irritated by the fact that his friends and family appear to prefer the company of the angel to his own.

d.   This story describes the exploits of a young boy, whose chief desire for Christmas is to get a “Red Ryder BB gun”.

e.   When left to his own devices, a young boy must use his imagination to fend off home invaders.

f.     Having contemplated suicide, a man learns the true value of his life and the positive impact he has had on others.

g.   While visiting his estranged wife over Christmas, a detective becomes involved in a terrorist takeover.

h.   A widow with a young son, must decide whether to start her life again with a somewhat dull, but solid, attorney or a charming and romantic ne’er do well.

i.      A young girl and her mother must be convinced that there is, indeed, a Santa Claus.

j.     An aging parish priest believes a younger priest with more energy is sent to him as an assistant, when in reality the younger priest has been sent as a replacement.

k.  A toddler ends up in the North Pole and is raised as one of Santa’s helpers.

l. The town curmudgeon learns there are more important things in life than money.

For the correct answers email me at

 Happy Holidays, Vivian     @VivianWrites

Holiday Spirits

Girl Obsessed (Spring 2022)

Friday, October 15, 2021

I'm Back To Blogging Again

I hope everyone has been well and keeping safe during these crazy times.  Personally, I've taken advantage of the time we were locked down to read more and to write more. It's been a while since I've posted, probably because I've been devoting more time to other outlets for my writing.

For those who are new to my blog, in the past I have chosen this platform primarily to discuss nostalgia, although if you go into my archived posts you will view subjects as diverse as baseball, mistresses, classic movies, and Harry Houdini.

Since I last blogged, I have found myself returning to the kind of writing I enjoy most: mystery and suspense.  Several years ago I wrote a screenplay that aired on Lifetime Television as Stolen from the Womb and more recently, I had one air as My Mother's Killer Boyfriend (a terrible title, I know, but my original title, The Narcissist, was changed by Lifetime for Marketing purposes.)

I have had two mysteries published: Groomed for Murder (Ballantine Books) and If You Should Read This Mother (Black Opal Books). Both books are available on Amazon (although at present Groomed for Murder is out of print and only available as an e-book)

My newest thriller, Girl Obsessed (Black Opal Books) is due to be released in a few weeks.  Some might consider it a story of "Fatal Attraction" in the 21st Century.  Here is a brief summary of the plot:

        "In order to exonerate his client of murder charges, Defense Attorney Sam Paris enlists the aid of Shannon Clark, an attractive psychiatrist best known for her bestselling, but controversial, book about the effects of oxytocin, a hormone that can presumably cause a woman to become dangerously attached to and obsessed with the man with whom she is sexually intimate. As Sam becomes romantically involved with the doctor, he learns that she has issues of her own and indeed may be more dangerous and violent than the woman he is defending."

I will be posting more information about this book upon its release (as well as a Christmas anthology in which a story of mine is included) -- just wanted to give everyone a heads up.  Until then,

Have a great weekend, discovering Rhodes Less Traveled - Vivian

Saturday, July 8, 2017


Turner Classic Films is celebrating 50 years of  Hitchcock all this month, so I thought I’d pay tribute by re- posting my blog on Hitchcock along with a quiz for true Hitchcock fans (where did he appear in that movie?)

     Alfred Hitchcock is probably my all time favorite director, followed
closely by Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang.  I have enjoyed Hitchcock films my entire
life, both as a kid and later as a cinema student, when I learned more
about the man and his maverick techniques.
      Hitchcock’s style was unique and easily recognizable, so much so
that Mel Brooks tenderly paid homage to it in his film High Anxiety.
Hitch (as he was known to colleagues) pioneered numerous innovative
shooting and editorial techniques to create suspense. When asked how
he created suspense Hitchcock once said that seeing a bomb, for example,
then watching it explode did little in the way of creating suspense. Instead,
one creates suspense by cutting between the bomb set to go off, a clock,
and, say, the fearful eyes of the intended victim.  He was able to do this by
first, meticulously creating a storyboard depicting his shots, scene by scene.
     Also, by allowing our eyes to be that of the camera and by moving slowly
around his subjects, he engaged us in a form of voyeurism.  We felt the
actors’ fear, their anxiety. And let me assure you, his characters usually
had much about which to feel fearful.
    A common thread running through his films was that of a man wrongly
accused of a crime (ie. The Thirty-Nine Steps, Saboteur, The Wrong Man,
North by Northwest, and Strangers on a Train) and Hitchcock’s
experiences as a child came into play here.
     He apparently had a lonely, isolated childhood, made worse by his
obesity. Lots of time for his imagination to grow and fester, I would imagine.
When he was a child his father “punished” him by sending him to the local
police station with a note asking that he be “locked up for ten minutes for his
”infraction”. This was undoubtedly done as a way to teach a lesson that
wouldn’t be easily forgotten. If that was the case, it worked. It developed in
Hitchcock a lifelong fear of being locked up and a distrust of the police in general. 
His Jesuit upbringing influenced him as well and many of his films dealt with
religious, or at least morally ethical dilemmas (Vertigo, I Confess).
    In addition to his “man-on-the-run-having-been-wrongly-accused” themes,
Hitchcock’s films shared other similarities. Most of them starred “icy
blondes” such as Eva Marie Saint, Vera Miles, Doris Day, Grace Kelly
and Tippi Hedren, with Grace Kelly probably having been his personal
favorite. His daughter, Patricia, appeared in bit parts and his wife,
Alma, was the editor of most of his films. Another element common to his
pictures was the use of well known places of interest such as The Statue of
Liberty in Saboteur, Mt. Rushmore in North by Northwest, Royal Albert
Hall in The Man Who Knew Too Much and the Forrest Hills Tennis Stadium
in Strangers on a Train. (Incidentally, Robert Walker’s performance as socio-
path, Bruno Antony in this film, is chilling).
     Hitchcock also introduced what came to be known as the “MacGuffin”, vague,
unimportant devices whose sole purpose was to move the story forward.  These
might come in many forms ranging from a formula whispered by a diplomat (Foreign
Correspondent) to hidden microfilm (North by Northwest), to a bottle of wine
containing uranium (Notorious).
      It’s difficult to state my favorite Hitchcock film, I’ve enjoyed so many. If pressed,
I would probably have to say that The Lady Vanishes, Shadow of a Doubt, The
Man Who Knew Too Much (the second version starring Jimmy Stewart and
Doris Day), and North by Northwest are amongst my favorites. Hitchcock’s
unique blend of psychological suspense, sexual undercurrents, and ironic
humor are what made him an icon. (Though he never achieved an Oscar for a
particular movie, he did ultimately receive a Lifetime Achievement award).
    Hitchcock’s “signature” was the cameo appearances he made in all his
films.  See if you can “find Hitch” by ithmatching the film below with the scene
in which he turned up.

1.  THE LADY VANISHES                            A. Being pushed in a wheelchair at an airport
2.  STRANGERS ON A TRAIN                       B. In the center of a crowd wearing a “bowler” hat
3.  THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH       C. Walking down the street carrying a trumpet case
4.  LIFEBOAT                                              D. Missing a bus during the opening credits
5.  TO CATCH A THIEF                                 E. Winding a clock in a songwriter’s apartment
6.  SHADOW OF A DOUBT                          F. In a crowded Victoria Station, smoking a cigarette
7.  THE BIRDS                                           G. At “a hunt”, walking a horse across the screen
8.  DIAL M FOR MURDER                         H. In a Moroccan market place watching acrobats
9.  NOTORIOUS                                          I. In before and after pictures in a newspaper ad *
10.REAR WINDOW                                     J. Coming out of an elevator
11.PSYCHO                                               K. In silhouette, behind a door marked “Registrar of   
                                                                         Births and Deaths”
12. TOPAZ                                                 L. Seen through a window wearing a cowboy hat
13. FRENZY                                               M. Boarding a train carrying a bass fiddle
14. TORN CURTAIN                                    N. Seated in a hotel lobby holding a small child
15. FAMILY PLOT                                       O. In a class reunion photo
16. NORTH BY NORTHWEST                     P. On a train playing cards
17. VERTIGO                                               Q. Seated on a bus beside Cary Grant
18. REBECCA                                           R. Posting a letter at a mail box
19. SUSPICION                                         S. At a big party sipping champagne
20. SPELLBOUND                                     T. Leaving a pet store with two white terriers

*Note of trivia: The ad in question was for Reduco Obesity Slayer.


1F; 2M; 3H; 4I; 5Q; 6P; 7T; 8O; 9S; 10E; 11L; 12A; 13B; 14N; 15K; 16D; 17C; 18G; 19R; 20J

To learn more about Alfred Hitchcock, I would recommend reading “The Dark Side of Genius” by Donald Spoto. It’s the most comprehensive book on Hitchcock I’ve read to date.

If you enjoy suspense, a reminder to check out my newest psychological thriller, If You Should Read This Mother (Black Opal Books)



My Radio Interview

 Hi Everyone:

I hope by now you've been able to check out my newly released psychological thriller, If You Should Read This, Mother.  It is available on Amazon, (on the publisher's website (, as well as in book stores.

I invite you all to tune in to The Kim Pagnano Show next Saturday 7/15, when Kim will be interviewing me about my book.
The interview will be played between 7-8 AM (PT) next Saturday on KVTA  Radio 1590, and it will be posted on starting at 9:00 AM (PT).

Hoping you'll have a chance to listen and to spread the word.

If someone should ask you to suggest a good summer read, please keep If You Should Read This, Mother in mind.

Happy reading!  Vivian