In most of my stories in the past the "fear" or "disquiet" comes from me putting the reader into the villian or antagonist's head and blurring the lines between antagonist and protaganist. I try to get the reader to identify with the killer. In Succulent Prey I even upped the ante by making the cannibalism and the killings themselves erotic so that readers would feel themselves becoming sexually arroused as they read about these violent acts and would be afraid of their own physical and emotional responses to the work. The fear would come from what they were thinking and feeling. As one reader said about Succulent Prey "I felt like you made me into an accomplice..." I wanted the reader to find themselves in agreement with the villain and to even root for him and to freak themselves out when they realized that they were cheering for a murderer and that they could even understand his motivations.
In Population Zero I tried to start slowly by giving readers something they could all agree with, people scamming the welfare system, and see how long I could keep them nodding their head in agreement as the antagonist/protagonist became increasingly violent. I wanted readers to find themsleves at a point where the killer was doing something truly reprehensible before they finally realized that they had been agreeing with him for half the book. I did that because it was hard to do and I didn't think many other authors did it or did it well. Well, Succulent Prey was first written in 2004. Since then I've done it a lot and so have a lot of other writers. It's not as challenging for me anymore and not quite as unusual as it once was.
With The Resurrectionist I wanted to go back to the more traditional horror viewpoint, that of the victim. I wanted the terror to come from the actual acts taking place within the story, from the reader's empathy with and vicarious experience of the victim's fear rather than from their empathy or sympathy for the killer. It sounds simple. It's what horror writers do. But it was rather new for me. So far it seems to have met with favorable reviews. I'm not saying that I am entirely abandoning the way I used to write. In fact, my upcoming novella The Reaper, is sort of a return to that fear device though in that one the reader is placed into the role of voyeur, watching as the main character self-destructs. You will continue to see the very humanized sympathetic villains in my work though they will probably not be the central figures very often. Even Dale McCarthy in The Resurrectionist is a very human villain though I wouldn't neccessarily call him a sympathetic one. I think anyone who reads the book will want to see this guy fry.