Today’s post is a guest post written by Colette McBeth, author of The Life I Left Behind which you’ll find out more about below. Colette McBeth has kindly written a piece on why she writes crime centred novels. I hope you enjoy! 🙂
I tell people I didn’t set out to write crime, not even psychological thrillers. I say I just wanted to write the book that had been in my head for fifteen years. But looking back it’s hardly surprising my novel came out dark and twisted. I grew up on a diet of Nancy Drew, graduated to Iain Banks’ Complicity and the Wasp Factory in my teens. By my twenties I didn’t have to read thrillers, I was reporting on real life crime stories that were often stranger than fiction.
Now that I’ve fully embraced the genre, I’ve had a chance to think about why I write psychological thrillers.
1. I don’t believe anyone is all good or all bad. There’s a bit of darkness inside all of us. I’m interested in the situations that make people cross the line. I also think most of are closer to that line than we realise. When I try to explain this I’m fond of using this quote from the film Chinatown;
‘… most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they are capable of anything.’
That pretty much sums it up.
2. I want to make readers question their thinking and subvert their expectations. Most of us are too quick to judge. A good psychological thriller encourages us to make those judgements only to undermine them.
3. Plot. You have to have a lot of it in a crime novel. It’s the engine of the story, and along with characterisation it’s the reason we keep turning the pages. As a writer, plot keeps me awake at night and makes me cry with frustration during the day, but when it clicks, it really is a beautiful moment.
4. Thrillers are honest. When characters are thrown into extreme situations the façade is stripped back. They do what they have to do to survive. Mostly, they’re people damaged by circumstances but they are also the most interesting characters to write about. Sometimes they say the things we might think (but never utter), they might act the way we would if there were no consequences. They are our bad alter egos.
5. Having spent a lot of my twenties reporting on crime stories, I became fascinated by the ‘normal’ lives many defendants led. How does a serial killer hide himself? Why did his wife/girlfriend/brother not realise who he really was? We all like to think we’d just know instinctively if someone was a bad one, but I’m not so sure. In psychological thrillers we see that those people are walking amongst us every day. They might even be living in our home.
She’s dead but she’s the only one who knows what really happened;
What your friends have said.
What the police missed.
Who attacked you.
So if you want the truth who else are you going to turn to?
Thanks so much to Colette McBeth and Headline for this post! I hope you enjoyed reading and I’ll have a review up of The Life I Left Behind soon. Be sure to check out the other stops in the blog tour. 🙂