I’ve been tagged by Clare Mackintosh, ex police officer and fellow psychological thriller author (‘I Let You Go’ is out now and it’s a fabulous read) to complete this writing process meme so here we go…
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?
I’ve just finished reading aloud the proofs of my second psychological thriller THE LIE to check for typos, clunky sentences and repetition, and have made my final, final tweaks to the prose. Now I need to turn my attention to some marketing/PR bits to support publication (April 23rd) and then I can get started on my third psych thriller, working title: THE FORGETTING.
I worked on THE LIE for the whole of last year and I’m absolutely itching to start writing something new. The deadline to hand in the THE FORGETTING to my UK publishers is 1st July so, although I’ve already written a 4 page synopsis, I still have a ton of research and more detailed plotting to do before I start writing and time is ticking…
HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN ITS GENRE?
It’s a tricky question to answer. I could tell you how my contemporaries differ from each other but it’s much harder to be objective about my own work. That said, the one word that came up over and over again in reviews for THE ACCIDENT was ‘gripping’. Dozens of readers told me they read it in a day and that, to me, is a huge compliment. It means I achieved what I set out to do which was to write a book that people found hard to put down. Elmore Leonard said, “When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip” and that’s something I keep at the forefront of my mind when I’m writing and editing. I don’t know if I’m unusual in this but I find writing description quite boring and suspect that a lot of readers find it boring to read too, so I keep it to a minimum – enough to create atmosphere and a sense of place – but I don’t spend time crafting beautiful, evocative prose. Pace, action and intrigue are much more important to me.
WHY DO YOU WRITE WHAT YOU DO?
I have a degree in psychology and I’ve always been fascinated by the reasons people think and behave the way they do, particularly how their pasts shaped the people they are today. I try and marry that interest with situations that fascinate and terrify me. In THE ACCIDENT Susan has PTSD as a result of an emotionally abusive relationship and must discover the secret that drove her daughter to walk in front of a bus. In THE LIE Emma and her three friends all have issues that could cost them their lives if they don’t stick together in a very dangerous situation. And as for THE FORGETTING, well…I’ll keep that to myself for now.
HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?
I tend to start with a ‘what if…’ question – What if a woman’s daughter steps in front of a bus because she’s keeping a terrible secret? What if four friends turn against each other in order to survive? – and then I come up with the characters to inhabit that situation. Each of the characters must have a goal and those goals need to come in conflict with each other in order to maintain the tension in the book. I also give my main character an emotional arc – she needs to have changed by the end of the story.
I tightly plotted THE ACCIDENT before I wrote a word because I was on maternity leave at the time and could only write in 45 minute bursts whilst my son slept (there wasn’t enough time for thinking, I had to put my fingers to the keyboard and just TYPE!). I approached THE LIE in a different way – I started writing it as part of a 1000 words a day for 100 days challenge and didn’t have a clear idea of the plot when I started. As a result I had to do several rewrites afterwards. With THE FORGETTING I’ll be going back to tight plotting. It turns out I’m not a fan of multiple rewrites!
And now to tag another writer to find out about their writing processes. I tag Mel Sherratt who is a ‘grit-lit’ writer and a publishing phenomenon.