Friday, 20 October 2017

Guest Post - Why I Write Psychological Thrillers by Gillian McAllister - Blog Tour

I started out my literary career writing women's fiction. I was signed by my agent for a women's fiction novel and I wrote another before that, which had a few near misses with agents. One was about a woman who leaves her boyfriend for another man and the second was about a woman who is childless by choice.

It took my novel getting rejected by publishers for me to take a step back and consider what it was I really wanted to write. Because, actually, since starting that novel, my reading habits had changed, and that's what got me thinking. I - along with lots of other readers! - had read Gone Girl, and The Girl on the Train, and had had my appetite whetted. The rise of the female psychological thriller has been a really interesting trend to observe, and it doesn't show any signs of dying down yet, both in books and on television. There's something eerily compelling about the 'it could happen to you' element of them, together with the grounded domesticity of the setting and the chilling but often understated crimes at their centre. I still can't get enough of them.

For some reason, I had never really thought about writing psychological thrillers even though they were what I had exclusively started reading. I thought they involved plotting that was beyond me (and they are difficult to plot) and I also still wanted to write primarily about relationships. 

So that's what got me thinking about what I could write that might combine my interests. What if I could write a book with the structure and pace of a thriller, but one that is still ultimately about people's relationships? I could think of a few authors who did such things - Liane Moriarty, Louise Doughty - but not many. But - sometimes - that's an indication that you should, not that you shouldn't. 

So I set about plotting my debut, Everything But The Truth, about a woman who catches sight of evidence on her boyfriend's iPad that he has committed a crime. And then, after that, I had the idea for my second: what if you were followed home by a man who wouldn't leave you alone in a bar? What if you pushed him, without thinking, and seriously injured him? And what - then - if the narrative split, showing both the path where you call 999 and confess, and the one where you walk away, and go on the run? 

It was with that book that I really found my groove. Sure, they're psychological thrillers, but they're also examinations of dubious legal/moral situations, explorations of relationships under stress, and character studies. My third is no different - about a woman accusing of harming her sister's baby - and my fourth won't be, either. I guess the lesson is: write what you really do want to read, even if it doesn't yet exist on the shelf. Especially if it doesn't yet exist on the shelf. 

Thank you so much for this great post Gillian. I am looking forward to reading Anything You Do Say. 

Gone Girl meets Sliding Doors in this edge-of-your-seat thriller
Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.
But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it's him; the man from the bar who wouldn't leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.
Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most - make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

1 comment:

  1. Oooh! I haven't heard of this author, but I'll definitely have to check her out!!


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