Panel 6 Highlights

Panel 6: When the Past Won’t Stay Buried
Jenny Blackhurst | SJI Holliday | Colette McBeth | Clare Mackintosh

Selected quotes from live Q&As with readers

Clare Mackintosh: I think real police work is full of twists. There's a danger of making assumptions and stereotyping people as 'good ' or 'bad'; I wanted to play with those preconceptions just the way it happens in real life.

Colette Mcbeth:
I really don't think solving the crime is the most important part of the novel. Clearly if you've set it up as a whodunnit you need to tell your reader exactly that but I think if that's the sole focus of a novel it would be a bit two dimensional. For me the interesting themes are why people do things and the effects they have on others, the what happens after.

Jenny Blackhurst:
I think crime writing has always been influenced by history but now more than ever we are in a period where we are affected by 'the sins of our fathers' so to speak. I think in particular people are intrigued by the skeleton in the closet novel in the same way we watch Jeremy as we have such a close hand in people's lives through social media etc.

SJI Holliday: I think there is definitely a trend for dark, disturbing novels at the moment. As a reader, I'm interested in the dark side of people's characters, and what makes them that way. I think it's interesting to have a character to read about that you initially think is unlikeable, but then to build them up and start to show the reader why they act like they do.
Notes from round table discussion between authors

This panel began with talk on genre, and how it is possible to begin writing in one and end in another - the story could take you somewhere you can’t predict. Claire, “My book wasn't a psychological thriller at the start. In fact it started life as a sort of romance! But it very quickly became much darker, evolving into my favourite genre: the psychological thriller.” Colette, “I definitely want to write something else in the future, I fact the book I'm writing now could have easily been something else. Part of the trouble is that I can't resist getting dark. So maybe it's meant to be.”

A reoccurring thing is an interest in the darker side of people's personalities, or as Jenny puts it, “the question of what people are capable of - and whether they even know what they are capable of. Just normal people put in extraordinary circumstances.”

Talk moved on to what makes a good psychological thriller. Susi, “I think the main thing is to keep the suspense, keep readers wondering 'why' all the time.”

Claire, “There's a current trend for twists, which - in my view - isn't sustainable. There are only so many big twists you can pull off, and a good thriller is so much more than a twist or a trick. Smaller reveals and clever plotting is what makes a good thriller, not necessarily a massive twist.”

The authors discussed new books in the pipeline. Claire is working on a thriller set in London, about women being stalked on the Underground. Susi’s is focused on a dark sibling relationship which will feature a very creepy funfair. Jenny is writing a dark psychological thriller about female friendships and Colette is working on a psychological thriller about the lengths a mother will go to to protect her son.


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