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.

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?

The secrets of a bestseller

Researching a stalker was actually really fun although, you may think it was a little creepy. A lot of authors will tell you that police officers would find their Google search history very interesting, and mine would definitely be amusing if you looked back through the months when I wrote this story.

My first psychological thriller, written under the pen name J.S. Lark, has topped the Ghost Thrillers and Vigilante Justice Thrillers charts in the USA today and is in the Psychological Fiction top 20. I think therefore it is about time I got around to writing this post. I planned to do it a couple of weeks ago but then COVID-19 caught me. I am lucky to be well on the way to recovery now, though.

Of course, in real life I have never stalked someone so to understand what was possible in this story and to get into a stalker’s mind, I had to explore what can be found about someone on the internet. Without giving away any of the plot, which has a lot of twists I would hate to spoil, I can tell you I researched all of these things:

  • How the press report accidents?
  • Whether or not you can get up to the top of a car park in Swindon? The car park in the book is fictional, though, it’s a merged version of several multi storey car parks.
  • Facts about Bipolar, and videos recorded by those who have the condition.
  • Videos by clairvoyants.
  • I followed famous people on Instagram to see what their pictures could give away.
  • Then someone on a radio show talked about older family members checking into everywhere on Facebook, and giving away their location at every moment, so I explored that.
  • I looked up companies on the Companies House website to see what it tells you about the owners.
  • I looked at company websites to get ideas about how much they gave away
  • I also looked up actual obituaries – which is a bit creepy.

I did not only play stalker on the internet, though. As you know, for my historical books I do a lot of physical research, travelling to places to learn the reality in the setting, which is the whole premise for this blog. So, I did also spend a day in Bath where a large part of the book is set and walked around the areas my character does. I lived in Swindon for 16 years, and I lived in the centre of Swindon of several years, so the scenes set in Swindon are in areas I know really well. But I only recently discovered the Green Park area of Bath, and so I went there to try and get my mind into what it would feel like to sit on a park bench for hours and watch a house.

I didn’t sit on the park bench for hours, but I did sit there for one hour on a cold grey day, with a cup of take-away coffee in hand and just took in the atmosphere, and in my mind imagined what it would be like to be 100% focused on someone in the house on the other side of the road.

The outcomes of all this research can be discovered in the book…

You can buy the book from any bookseller but here is the Amazon link