Message From The Author
They’re Watching is a very special book to me, because it’s the type of story I loved most growing up. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t let me watch TV, except when the Red Sox were playing or when there was a Hitchcock movie on.
I love Hitchock’s everyman stories. North by Northwest, showing Cary Grant as the wrong guy in the wrong place. Jimmy Stewart looking through the wrong damn window from his wheelchair in Rear Window. I think these characters stand in for that little part in all of us who at times, when we’re tired or stressed or back on our heels, feel like we’re in over our heads, that we’re not up to our job, some relationship, our circumstances. If you take that feeling and magnify it by about a thousand, you’ll have a pretty good sense of how my protagonist, Patrick Davis, feels at the opening of They’re Watching. With this book, I wrote the kind of story that I grew up with, that I love the most to watch and to read.
Patrick Davis is an average guy going through a hard time. His marriage is on the rocks. He’s growing estranged from his wife, his college sweetheart, who he still loves but can’t find his way back to. He’s an aspiring screenwriter who after years of hard work, finally had his dream fulfilled when he sold a script. But his hopes were quickly dashed when he gets into a fight on his first set with a pampered movie star and he finds himself more or less blackballed from the industry. He’s being sued by a studio. He’s got writer’s block. He’s teaching screenwriting in a college in the Valley. He’s miserable.
And he’s primed for something I think we’ve all experienced in different ways. Paranoia. Whether it’s our concern that people are talking about us, or that maybe someone overheard a conversation they weren’t supposed to—or those times when you can’t remember if you’re the one who left the back door unlocked. Remember: just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you’re wrong.
Patrick is a good, decent guy, but he’s been beat up lately, his insecurities brought to the fore. Now when you’re feeling a bit paranoid, the hardest thing to do is stop. And Patrick starts to become aware that someone is watching his every move. Now he and his wife are going to have to figure out how to trust each other and reconnect under extraordinary pressure.
The book opens with Patrick waking up and stepping out onto the porch to get his newspaper. And as he heads inside and sits to read it, an unmarked DVD falls out into his lap. Odd. He plugs it into the player and it shows creepy and unsettling footage, shot through the blinds of his bathroom window, of him getting up in the morning, going into the bathroom, and brushing his teeth. He goes and looks outside the house by the window where the tripod would have rested when he was filmed, but he sees nothing.
Unsettled, he goes to work and when he gets home that night, he finds another unmarked DVD hidden in the mail. Nauseated with anticipation, he plays it. This time, the footage is shot from the neighbor’s roof and it shows Patrick, that very morning, outside his bathroom window, looking for the tripod where the first footage was shot. So they were set up to film him where he logically would search after receiving the first DVD.
Now it’s a chess game. Everywhere he goes to spy on them, they’re hiding one position farther away to film him trying to spy on them. So rather than scrambling onto the neighbor’s roof – the logical move – he goes onto his own roof for a better vantage. But what’s waiting for him up there is something he could never have imagined.
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