My fifth thriller novel, Behind Her Smile, is scheduled for release on digital platforms (ebook/audiobook) on November 16th, 2021 from the wonderful team at SAGA Egmont across the globe. I am both excited and nervous about this one because it’s the first time I took a few risks on some of the twists. I won’t spoil anything here, but the overarching viewpoint from a very minimal cast of characters with the intention of getting darker, and more sinister as the story develops, didn’t happen very easily.
I started the first draft over the Winter of 2020; it was that third and darkest covid lockdown period in the UK, when it was dark, gloomy mornings, followed by even darker nights. Having been limited to travel, and absolutely eager to have a cruise holiday, I had two ideas I wanted to combine: a thriller based on a cruise ship, and the thought of having a character who had received the news that her husband, told the children she had died. My brain went into overdrive about making what was the impossible, possible. So many what-if’s, so many plot holes to fix. Other questions, such as how would she find out this news? How would she react? How can she unravel a web of deceit and its impact on her character? Then her friends have disowned her? Why is everyone beginning to hate this person, and exactly what damage has she done to deserve this…or did she actually deserve it at all?
The whole time this poor woman is on a cruise holiday too, so I knew I had a limited time period between the date she sailed away to reaching home again to align the plot.
The more I was writing, the more it was becoming complicated. Tone, points of view, trying to make the clues very subtle without giving too much away. Then, as if by magic, and a lot of headaches, Diet Coke consumption, plenty of chocolate, the first draft was complete. I was reasonably happy, but then after a writing break, returning to it with fresh eyes, removing all the times I type ‘just’ combined with thinking of new sentences to replace a lot of ‘and’s – there was one missing piece of the puzzle I had completely overlooked. The main character had lost her suitcase. I swore a lot, and went through the whole thing again, and by then I had interwoven a lot more into the character from research I had read online about a few subjects that crop up. Researching a topic for a book is definitely helped by Google. So much so, I actually thanked them in the acknowledgements from a previous novel.
Eventually, about seven whole months had passed and I was ready to submit my third draft to the editor. For this novel it was edited by Tom Felton, I knew he had edited Robert Bryndza’s Erika Foster based novels before, and they were complex (to me), so I was very appreciative of his comments, and this led to some large chunks of writing work being removed. I had scaled an 84,000-word novel down to almost 76,000 words, but the book is better for it. It only has what is needed, and everything towards the end is revealed in all it’s glory.
I hope you enjoy reading it.
Thank you x