Emma Thorley is gone…but not forgotten. GONE is a twisty story of murder, guilt and unintended consequences from an exciting new crime novelist.
Second novels, like second albums, are notoriously tricky. They’re the banana skin on the bookshop floor, the bucket above the door, the bogeyman hiding under the counter (you get the idea). “Can they pull it off again?” you imagine your readers or your editor wondering. And they’re not alone. In meetings, you talk bravely but inside you’re screaming, “I don’t know. Can I?”
Remember Me This Way isn’t my second novel, but it counts because it is my second thriller. When Mulholland became my publisher they did so having read most of its predecessor, Under Your Skin, but this book they committed to unseen. (I think so little of it had even been imagined, it was called “Untitled” in the contract.) If you are confident in your own abilities that probably makes no difference but if, like me, you’re not, you’ll waste a lot of time worrying they won’t like it when it’s finished.
There are logistical as well as psychological problems. I plotted Under Your Skin carefully, but I didn’t do that with Remember Me This Way. Busy promoting the first book, I got into a panic and started writing before I had a proper overview of what was going to happen and as a result I got snarled along the way. Much of the action, for example, was initially meant to take place in France, but there were plot difficulties with borders and passports, so in the end I relocated to Cornwall. In fact, I am glad that I did – the wildness and the remote atmosphere suited the action better – but I wasted time in the process.
I also struggled with the feeling that I had to mine a different seam to the first thriller. With Under Your Skin, I could put in anything I wanted, anything that intrigued or thrilled or interested me. It was more complicated with Remember Me This Way. I felt I had to self-censure. It’s not that it mattered particularly that this time I couldn’t use strangulation, or give my main character a job in the media, but it did make it harder to get going. The first book had a twist and I knew that if this one had too, it would have to twist in another direction. I got quite tangled up trying to sort that one.
So yes – it was definitely harder. But here’s the thing – I think all the struggling is good in the long run. It’s part of the alchemy. I don’t know if my second thriller is better or worse, or just different, to the first. But I have great hopes for the third.
Sabine Durrant’s second (and utterly brilliant!) novel REMEMBER ME THIS WAY is out now.
This has absolutely nothing to do with my new novel, Bravo, which is being published by these lovely Mulholland folks. Seriously, nothing to do with that. If that’s what you’re looking for, you shall be disappointed. You can leave now, I won’t mind.
This is about football. Proper football, not hand-egg. Soccer, as it’s best-known in the United States, though I live in a peculiar part of the country where referring to it as such often gets you sneered at. Maybe it’s the climate, but I suppose a lot of Portlanders like to pretend they’re British, even if their Anglophilia is lost beneath the flannel and rivers of craft beer. I’ve never liked the name “soccer” personally, and yes, I know that it’s born from “association football.” Yet there’s no “ball” nor “foot” in the word “soccer” that I can discern, and thus, I rest my case.
So what the hell is an American born on the California central coast and living in the Pacific Northwest doing writing about proper football on the Mulholland site? Why, especially, when his new novel has absolutely nothing to do with the sport?
WARNING: contains hints and spoilers for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, The Crying Game, Psycho, Rosamund Lupton’s Sister, Dallas, The Sixth Sense, One Day by David Nicholls, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and The Ghost by Robert Harris.
A really good plot twist leaves you floored, breathless, as if you’ve been punched. The world shifts for a moment as you accept you’ve been taken in. Who can you trust after it has taken place? No one.
1) The least-likely-person twist
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
She is the queen of course – though if you begin a book thinking it’s the least likely person, then it holds no surprises. (The butler did it.) Roger Ackroyd is on a different plane –everybody has their motive. You sift and wonder. What you never imagine is that Poirot’s right hand man, the narrator no less, has been spinning you all along. Bastard.
2) The moral twist
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
An archetypal thriller – the grim spooky setting of the Kent marshes, Magwitch with his suppurating shackles, Miss Haversham in her haunted bridal house. And Pip, poor Pip – the gloriously cataclysmic moment when he and the reader discover it isn’t smart money that has funded his posh reincarnation, but dirtily gotten gains.
3) The sex twist
Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game
About race and gender and the Troubles, it is brutal and heart-breaking and at the heart of it is Jaye Davidson, a beautiful singer who turns out to be pre-operative transgender. Shocks her IRA lover at any rate.
4) The jump-out-of-your-seat twist
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
The story is Hitchcock tried to buy up all copies of the book so people wouldn’t find out what happens. Now you know. The old lady’s dead and it’s Anthony Perkins in her creepy clothes. Yikes.
5) The narrator-in-danger twist
Sister by Rosamund Lupton
You’re just beginning to think that the author has gone a bit mad – needs a bit of editing – when you discover the narrator, holed up by the villain, is losing consciousness. Faint-inducing.
6) The laugh-out-loud twist
The entire ninth season, plus the death of Bobby at the end of the eighth, turns out to have been Pamela Ewing’s dream. Deserves a place for pure nerve.
7) The plot-turned-inside-out twist
M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense
Like The Others, this ghost story is one long conjuring trick, a bravura act of misdirection and sleight of hand. A boy who is visited by spirits that don’t seem to realise they’re dead, confides in Bruce Willis, a disheartened psychologist. Guess what, though? It’s not the spirits who are deluded….
8) The weepy twist
One Day by David Nicholls
Worthy of a thriller, the axis-jolting, heart-thumping reversal at the end makes you re-live everything that’s come before. The lives of two characters, Emma and Dexter, have been picked up on the same day – 15 July every year for twenty years. A random date? St Swithun’s day? The anniversary of the day they met? No – an anniversary in reverse of the day she dies.
9) The halfway twist
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Two interwoven narratives – Nick’s desperate search for Amy, his missing wife, and her diary, revealing facts about their marriage he might not want to see the light of day. A dastardly first half of a book, culminating in the rug-pulling revelation that the diary is faked and Amy is the one in control.
10) The penultimate-sentence twist
The Ghost by Robert Harris
Brilliantly constructed novel about a corrupt prime minister and his ghost writer. It’s first person narrative, which usually means the protagonist survives – except here where, it turns out, the existence of the book itself indicates that he hasn’t.
We’re not giving away any spoilers, but Sabine Durrant’s novels have been variously described as ‘beguiling’ (Julia Crouch), ‘tense and terrifying’ (Sam Hayes) and containing ‘more twists than a rollercoaster’ (Good Housekeeping). Her latest page-turning psychological thriller REMEMBER ME THIS WAY publishes July 17th.
These books in Lisa Jackson’s ‘shiveringly good’ (Lisa Gardner), New York Times bestselling To Die series can be snapped up for a bargain price on the iBookstore and Amazon this week!
If I’m Dead shows Rachel shows Rachel Knight in her element - the courtroom - fighting to make the jury convict a man who killed his wife.
The one snag? No body…
Rachel Knight is taking a break from her busy, crime-focussed life with a trip to tropical island paradise Aruba. But trouble is never far away, and on her first day, her investigative skills are called on when a reality TV child star goes missing…
Favourite movie: The Usual Suspects
Best villain: Hannibal Lector
Best hero – Liam Neeson
Best Detective – Humphrey Bogart (Phillip Marlow) and of course Sherlock Holmes
Who has been a big influence on your writing?
EVERYONE – everything I read, both good and bad, I think especially the bad because it teaches one what not to do
Who would you want to play you in a movie?
Someone tall, blonde and gorgeous with great hair – or Judy Dench
Ebook or print?
Do you write on paper or computer first?
I only write on a computer. I can’t read my own handwriting.
Best ever fictional murder weapon?
Frozen leg of mutton – shown in the episode written by Roald Dahl, “Lamb to Slaughter” in Alfred Hitchcock presents
The song you’d listen to to pump you up while writing:
I can’t listen to music when I’m writing. It would get in the way of listening to my characters who are extremely chatty.
Who’s the fictional character you’d most like to murder?
Well, it’s already been done, but King Joffrey in Game of Thrones
The latest book in Marcia Clark’s Rachel Knight series, The Competition, is out now July 3rd in paperback.