I’m delighted to join the blog tour today for the new thriller by Jessikah Hope Stenson: Trace This Scar was published by Excalibur on the 24th November 2016 and is available in paperback and for kindle.
A Lie. A Betrayal. A Murder.
Daphne has everything she’s been dreaming of since the day her parents died when she was a teenager. A husband, a home and a job. The only problem is her beloved Rich’s ex girlfriend Gina who won’t leave them alone. Filled with jealousy, Gina’s interference soon escalates into harassment.
But one day, Gina disappears. When Rich is sentenced to sixteen years in prison for murdering Gina, Daphne refuses to believe he is guilty.
But what else could explain his mysterious disappearances?
And if Rich didn’t kill Gina… then who did?
I’ll really look forward to reading this one – I read Jess’ earlier short story collection and really enjoyed it – but today I’m welcoming her to Being Anne with an excellent guest post on the five thrillers that inspired her.
One of the main reasons I decided to write Trace This Scar was because I absolutely love to read thrillers myself. I wanted to write a book that would shock people like the end of The Girl On The Train, that would creep people out like Sister, and would unravel in wild ways like any Linwood Barclay book ever.
All writers say the best way to improve your writing is to read, read, read, which is no problem for me – I do that anyway. So now, when I think back to which books left an impression on me and taught me something about writing thrillers, it’s a struggle to narrow it down to just five.
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
So many people have read and loved Gone Girl and for me I think it’s strongest asset is its untrustworthy characters. Forget just having flawed, realistic people, Amy and Nick are truly complex beings and the story is more about their character development than anything else. It’s a classic case of characters driving the plot to create a world that you are so entirely gripped by.
The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair – Joel Dicker
On a car journey last year my family and I mapped out an entire thriller full of twists – I can’t remember it now but I had a lot of fun creating it. Almost as much fun as I can imagine Joel Dicker had when he wrote The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair – arguably my favourite thriller, if not book, of all time. The huge novel keeps spinning in new directions to the final 60 pages, just when you think everything is about to calm down. More than anything, this one taught me the importance of a strong ending.
Daughter – Jane Shemilt
What really drew me to the thriller genre in particular is this idea that you can do anything. Characters can be so layered that you can fool your reader and now have it remarked as “poor characterisation”. You can make the unexpected happen and keep it believable at the same time. That potential is just so much fun to play around with. In Daughter, my perspective of one character completely shifted over the course of the book and I thought that is what I want to be able to do.
You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott
Although this is a novel I only picked up after I’d finished writing Trace This Scar, You Will Know Me captures another aspect of thriller writing which I find fascinating. Innocence. Who is innocent? Who isn’t? And what does it really mean to be innocent? The lines of right and wrong can be completely rewritten and it’s up to the author to figure out where their characters stand. Can innocence be faked? When you start thinking about it your head can start spinning.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
All hail the master of creating plot. While reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo all I could think about was how complicated the storylines were and how they interwove perfectly without at all seeming coincidental. Even more magically, Stieg Larsson made the whole thing appear utterly simple and appealed to millions of people with his clear writing style. It’s a craft which must take years to shape, but writing complexly while making everything clear is something I strive towards.
All of these thrillers were enjoyable reads and whether you’re a writer or not I’d really recommend giving them a go!
Great post Jess, and thank you – wishing you every success with Trace This Scar.
Jessikah Hope Stenson is an author, book blogger and journalist. She currently studies English at the University of Exeter where she is also the Editor-In-Chief of PearShaped Music Magazine. In her spare time, she enjoys slam poetry, listening to Paramore and curling up with a good book.