What inspires a psychological thriller?

The writing ideas for the psychological thrillers come very differently from the research I’ve done for historical stories. They can’t be found by visiting such obvious places as historical properties. But I’ve learned to use several things.

One. My own life – I’ve started writing scenes set in local places, and using some of things I’ve done. Places I’ve spent a lot of time in and have experienced life in not just visited. I shared some of the places when I told you about the inspirations for After you Fell in The Secrets of a Bestseller. My characters might carry different emotions into the scenes from the days that I’ve done the same thing or been to the same place. But drawing on my reality, I think helps to make the characters experience more real, which enables the reader to connect emotionally with the characters. And that emotional connection, writing a character the people feel something for, is just as important in thrillers as it is in romance.

There’s a seen in The Twins when they hitchhike to Buscot, to swim in the weir pool on National Trust land. That’s something I and my friends did as young teenagers 🙂

My Twins are truants. I admit I did skip school occassionally, but I once met a girl at the bus stop who was going to school for the first time in two years. She said she used to hide in the day. I never saw her again, she didn’t come back. It’s strange how my real life memories from a long while ago can return to influence a story now. I remember her though because I always wondered what had happened next.

Two. Learning about real life crimes, and most importantly the people who commit them. The TV channel, CBS Reality, is my late-night watch. I’m funny I know. In my day job in a meeting we were asked to draw how we were feeling, I made everyone laugh because in my drawing I included a drawing of a woman with a knife – I was tired because I’d stayed up late watching Wives with Knives. Hee hee. But another late-night programme is about twins who commit crimes. I watched it as much to learn about the relationship between twins rather than to find ideas for the story. I’m pleased to say that I’ve already had feedback from a twin to say they relate to my characters. So, that has thrilled me – thank you to the television show.

Three. Identifying the settings for the scenes. Choosing real settings adds to the stories realism. It engages people’s minds with the fiction more effectively. Although there’s always a writer’s licence to embellish spaces, my settings are usually deliberately not accurate to the real places. For instance, two of the characters in The Twins own a cafe in the Lake District. I chose the Lake District for the adult years of my characters because it’s quite an enchanting place. It’s also out of the way, where the characters could go to hide. But a lot of the lakes are full of tourists, and the towns busy with thousands of visitors. So when I found a quieter setting, it became the perfect place for my reserved characters who didn’t want to let anyone know they were there. The small cafe at the Esthwaite Water Trout Fishery became the spot I used as a reference to describe my cafe. But then I embellished it. Sadly, I didn’t take a photo of the real cafe. In reality, on the entrance side, it’s a solid wall with a single width door. My setting has a glass front so that the characters see who is coming and going. My fictional cafe is also bigger, it has more tables inside, and a wider selection of food. But the fact that it’s set right on the edge of the lake, and that there’s nothing else around it, those are the things that the real cafe inspired. It has a homely, welcoming atomosphere, tucked away in the woods.

Oh that might take you back to the first inspiration I mentioned in this recent flurry of blog posts.

Four. Music. The inspiration of music runs from historicals into psychological thrillers without change.

The Twins: The most gripping psychological crime thriller of 2020 with a twist you won’t see coming!

available in audio an ebook from today

If you liked Blood Orange, The Perfect Couple and The House Guest you will love this!

Susan and Sarah. Sisters. Best friends.
Together…forever?

Nothing could break them apart.

Until they meet him.

And he can only choose one…

Now Susan is back. Determined to reclaim everything Sarah has taken from her.

Her home, her husband…her life?

From bodice rippers to psychological thrillers

For the people who haven’t just read my blogs but read the novels over the years, you know that, a bit like the TV Series Harlots, my books are not happy romantic frollics. They are usually stories where the characters have travelled through some emotional trauma to become who they are. So it’s not unexpected, then, that I’ve made the progression into writing psychological thrillers. What I love about writing the thrillers, though, is that they allow me to get even darker and more twisted in my writing. Halloween is a good day to say it’s fun to make things a little evil.

By the very nature of a thriller it has to persuade the reader the story is going in one direction and then go in another, but not just once several times. It’s not that easy to come up with the twists but I love working them out. I’ve often said over the years that I have to just let my mind do its thing. I don’t struggle to find ideas, I just wait for them to pop into my head when my mind is relaxed. Often ideas come in the moments before I fall asleep. But as I said yesterday, ideas also come when I listen to music.

So, the sound track to my second J.S. Lark psychological thriller, The Twins, in which I had great fun writing the story of two terribly sad and very bad sisters is …

Taylor Swift – I Did Something Bad

The whole of Taylor Swift’s Reputation album was quite good for getting in the mood to write a pyschological thriller, and I have also gone as far as mentioning that album and some of the songs when a character listens to them in a scene in the book. Something I mentioned that I do yesterday.

On my drive home from the day-job last year I used to play Taylor Swift’s albums on shuffle, and another of the songs that really used to charge my mind up with ideas for the next scene was Out of the Woods from her 1989 album. When you read the novel that’s out in November you might just make some connections to ideas that were probably sparked by that song 😉 My lips are sealed, though, I wouldn’t want to spoil a twist.

Taylor Swift – Out Of The Woods

I will share one more song of Taylor’s that I used to particularly like listening to to get me in the mood for writing The Twins story – Getaway Car, which is also on the Reputation album.

Taylor Swift – Getaway Car

The Twins

Available in ebook and audiobook on

20 November 2020

If you liked Blood OrangeThe Perfect Couple and The House Guest you will love this!

Susan and Sarah. Sisters. Best friends.
Together…forever?

Nothing could break them apart.

Until they meet him.

And he can only choose one…

Now Susan is back. Determined to reclaim everything Sarah has taken from her.
 
Her home, her husband…her life?