Highsmith revealed that in order to get herself in a different frame of mind, by pretending she was not herself, moving herself into a state of innocence, free of the day-to-day worries and anxieties of life. Her favorite technique to ease herself into the right frame of mind for work was to sit on her bed surrounded by cigarettes, ashtray, matches, a mug of coffee, a doughnut and an accompanying saucer of sugar. She had to avoid any sense of discipline and make the act of writing as pleasurable as possible.
The economical prose of Patricia Highsmith compel the reader to not only read on, but more importantly, to empathize with the mind of a killer:
The white, taut sheet of his berth on the train seemed the most wonderful luxury he had ever known. He caressed them with his hands before he turned the light out. And the clean blue-gray blankets, the spanking efficiency of the little black net over his head – Tom had an ecstatic moment when he thought of all the pleasures that lay before him now with Dickie’s money, other beds, tables, seas, ships, suitcases, shirts, years of freedom, years of pleasure. Then he turned the light out and put his head down and almost at once fell asleep, happy, content, and utterly, utterly confident, as he had never been before in his life.