Author feature: Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

By | August 8, 2016

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A teenage girl is missing. Is your daughter involved, or is she next?

Your daughter is in danger. But can you trust her?

When Karen Finch’s seventeen-year-old daughter Sophie arrives home after a night out, drunk and accompanied by police officers, no one is smiling the morning after. But Sophie remembers nothing about how she got into such a state.

Twelve hours later, Sophie’s friend Amy has still not returned home. Then the body of a young woman is found. Karen is sure that Sophie knows more than she is letting on. But Karen has her own demons to fight. She struggles to go beyond her own door without a panic attack.

As she becomes convinced that Sophie is not only involved but also in danger, Karen must confront her own anxieties to stop whoever killed one young girl moving on to another – Sophie.

I’m really delighted today to be featuring Saving Sophie, the wonderful debut thriller by Sam Carrington, due to be published for kindle on 12th August by Maze, with the paperback to follow from Avon in December. There is a little story behind this one. Sam and I were already “talking” about what we could do together for her book’s December release: then Avon decided this was a book they’d really like people to read rather sooner. The really impressive #SaveTheSecret campaign started, and Sam and I were wondering what to do when there was a plop from my letterbox with an advance review copy of the book from the lovely Helena at Avon. 

So, an early review it was – and you’ll find it below. But first, I’m delighted to welcome author Sam Carrington to Being Anne, talking about support…
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In Saving Sophie one of the themes running through the narrative is that of ‘support’. Each character needs emotional or physical support from friends or family in one way or another. This requirement increases as the story unfolds. But Sophie, Karen and DI Wade, the main characters whose viewpoints we follow, all need a different level, and type to help them through their individual issues.

So, that got me thinking about my own support ‘requirements’ as a writer. Am I a needy writer? How would I be able to write if I didn’t have support? What kind of support is important? The answer to this last question is, of course, that ALL support is crucial. 

I found that during the writing of Saving Sophie I needed (like really needed) emotional support from family and friends, and perhaps more of the practical sort from others – plus it depended where I was in the process to which type I needed, or benefited from, and when. 

My writing journey began when I left my full-time employment in the prison service. At that time my initial support came from my family and close friends who backed my decision to leave and encouraged me to do something “for me”. I’d been through a very difficult and challenging year and so with their help I embraced my ‘new path’. 

I started by writing short stories and was stunned when my first ever story was accepted for publication. Some of the next offerings failed to hit the mark, though, and my early confidence slipped away. That’s when I met (virtually) a couple of writers on Twitter. They encouraged me to submit a short story for possible inclusion in a charity anthology they were putting together. I learned a lot about the writing process and editing – for example, I had no idea about track changes until then(!). With their help I completed a humorous Christmas story which was indeed included in the collection. I connected regularly with the other authors and bit by bit my confidence grew. I then compiled my own collection of short stories which I published through the KDP programme. Now THAT was a steep learning curve! 

My main goal, however, was to write a novel, and when I felt the timing was right, I embarked on my first attempt. To begin with it was quite a lonely process, but then I connected with a group of aspiring novelists on Facebook and an online writing group was formed. The members of Writers United were all at different stages of the writing process but we all managed to support each other through the various journeys! Gaining invaluable advice, feedback and critique made the writing so much more enjoyable and I learned so much – even if it was through trial and error. 

And what of the wider writing community? Well, firstly I have been astounded by the incredible support I have received, and continue to, from writers both new and established. It’s truly heart-warming to know that people are keen to offer advice, moral support and encouragement, as well as a lot of their precious time, to help a new author. 

Since Avon announced the publication of Saving Sophie, I have received so many congratulatory messages and offers of support from bloggers and reviewers. Without them, fewer books would reach the hands of readers. They really do an excellent job with well-thought, meaningful reviews and features, which means that the books can be found and read more easily. 

Saving Sophie is about to go out into the world. I’ve already had some lovely reviews and chatted with some early readers – and I can happily reveal that it feels pretty amazing! Thanks to all those who have supported me during any part of this process – I have a good feeling that it will continue, and hopefully readers will enjoy the story…

Grateful thanks to Anne who, like every blogger, is extremely busy trying to fit everything in! You do a grand job.

And thank you, Sam. Shall I tell them what I thought of Saving Sophie? Oh, go on then…

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My review

There are a few key elements that distinguish a great thriller from a good one. First, of course, there has to be a strong story – one that hooks you in, keeps you turning the pages, keeps you on edge, makes you desperately want to find out what happens but at the same time has you wondering whether you really want to find out. This story had me totally gripped from its opening pages – a short and explosive prologue, then a vivid scene of a drunken Sophie being brought home by the police to her horrified parents, unable to remember anything about her night. A body is found, and the story takes off at breakneck pace, turning and twisting with every new discovery and revelation. 

A great thriller needs characters at its heart that you care about, and the family at this book’s heart certainly has that. Mother Karen wins you over straight away, with an event in her past that has left her subject to panic attacks and unable to leave the house – every time she reaches for her paper bag to calm her breathing, I felt like reaching for one too. Father Mike is quick to anger, slow to support – but his character is very well drawn and totally believable. Sophie herself is wonderfully drawn too, a very real teen surrounded by a network of other very real teens – and I loved the way her relationship with her mother develops and is portrayed throughout the book. This is a family you care about – there might be times when your sympathy is stretched a little thinly, but you get to know them so well that you feel for them as they struggle. I liked DI Wade too – with tantalising glimpses of her personal life, calling out for development in further books, and a dogged determination to get to the truth in her own way.

The writing needs to be of the highest quality – and this writing most certainly is. The author has a real flair for natural dialogue, almost giving you the impression that you’re eavesdropping on people’s conversations. The way she cranks up the tension and makes you feel the fear – and other emotions – of her characters is really excellent. And the way the book is constructed really works too – the three points of view, the intriguing emails that punctuate it. I liked the short chapters too – they keep you on edge as the viewpoint changes and you wonder quite where the next element to make you gasp is coming from.

This really is an exceptional first novel – once you start reading, it’s quite impossible to put down or to get the story and characters out of your head. And when you put it down – after its shocking ending and very clever epilogue – I think you’ll agree with me that this was indeed a great thriller. I can’t wait to see what Sam Carrington does next… I’ll be first in the queue.
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My thanks to Helena Sheffield at Avon Books for my advance proof copy.

Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for 15 years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. Saving Sophie is her debut psychological thriller novel. 

Follow Sam on Twitter and Facebook, and do take a look at her website.

2 thoughts on “Author feature: Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

  1. Sam Carrington

    Thank you so much for hosting me AND reviewing Saving Sophie – what an amazing review, I'm absolutely thrilled you enjoyed it! THANK YOU! x Sam x

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