The Bad Seed by William March


The Bad Seed, William March, 1954

My favorite quote: “She will destroy us all. I did not escape, either. She will destroy us all, in time.”

Notable characters: Rhoda Penrose, the bad seed; Christine Penmark, her long-suffering mother; Leroy Jessup, the warped maintenance man who recognizes (and relates to) the evil that dwells in  little Rhoda (dun, dun, DUN!)

Most memorable scene: For me, it wasn’t a single scene, but the slow unveiling of Rhoda’s character — the things she did along the way that shocked (and oddly delighted) me

Greatest strengths: When it comes to character development, this book has it in spades… 

Standout achievements: This book raised questions about nature versus nurture, leaning toward the theory that nature ultimately prevails (not only was Rhoda a well-nurtured child, but later in the book, her mother, Christine, who was adopted, discovers that her own biological mother was serial killer, which implies that a violent gene runs in their blood). It asked hard questions in a time when there was very little awareness about crimes committed by children (I’m sure they happened, but they were undoubtedly very rarely documented.) The Bad Seed helped change that

Fun Facts: Not that it’s a FUN fact, of course, but the author, William March, died just one month after this book’s publication

Other media: Most notably, the 1956 film of the same name starring Patty McCormack. It was also adapted as a Broadway play and as a 2018 lifetime movie directed by Rob Lowe

What it taught me: To stay away from little girls with cleated shoes. And also, that some stories shouldn’t have happily-ever-afters 

How it inspired me: As my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and I wrap up our current gothic thriller (Spite House) we’re starting to think about the next book. We have a lot of ideas for upcoming projects and haven’t quite settled on what to write next, but we both agree on one thing: evil child horror is definitely on the menu at some point. Soon. And you can thank The Bad Seed for that    

Additional thoughts: Though nearly 70 years old now, this novel not only holds up remarkably well, but remains a relevant piece of work that entertains as much as enlightens. And yes, I realize that I sound like a commercial, but seriously, I love this book 

Haunt me: alistaircross.com

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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