Next week, October 10th, my first full novel will be available on Amazon. For a script editor, it’s a little odd to be sitting on the other side of the table, waiting for the feedback, waiting for the tough review, waiting to see whether I have managed what I set out to do – engage the reader.
The novel, Be My Friend, is psychological suspense set in the fictitious world of Darkbridge, an idyllic milieu, where nothing bad should ever happen. Of course, it does and will continue to do so for the ten Darkbridge books I have roughed out in outline.
My writing process is to start by thinking about the deep theme at the heart of the story. I don’t want that theme telegraphed, but I do want a reader to come away with something beyond the thrill of the story. I was wowed last year by Gregg Hurwitz’s Survivor that tackled the difficult subject of what we call in the UK, Motor Neurone Disease and in the US, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Even though, Hurwitz’s book is a page turning thriller, it made me think.
The theme of Be My Friend is madness. I started work on the idea thinking about how we define it. I did lots of stream of consciousness musing on paper and concluded that madness is defined by functionality. In other words, if you ‘act normal’, it doesn’t matter how irrational your beliefs are. Moreover, there are a lot of people among us, including myself, from time to time, who are ‘acting normal.’
Setting was also crucial to me. My book is set in beautiful, fictional lush, Darkbridge in Surrey. I love the idea of what happens behind comfortable, middle-class closed doors.
So now I wait with some trepidation to see whether I really have hit the sweet spot in terms of reader engagement.