What are they thinking?
Inside UNCOMMON RELATIONS
I write psychological fiction: that is, narratives that emphasize the interior lives of the characters—not just what they do, but why? What are they thinking and what circumstances has prompted them to behave as they do? The reader is invited to delve into the characters’ heads. This focus is true of all my books whether historical, satire, crime or contemporary.
My recent novels are contemporary psychological dramas. It took two full-length novels to complete the story of Terry and the many characters in Uncommon Relations. The plot is involved, the characters all play their part. Each one has a back story that helps drive the plot.
The story tells of Terry Stedforth, an ordinary married man whose life becomes bizarre after he begins a search– in fact, opens a Pandora’s Box. There are plenty of Uncommon Relations along the way in whichever sense you apply the phrase. Terry’s life-style change from prosaic to bizarre doesn’t occur by accident, but is sparked off by a chance meeting with his look-alike. If only he hadn’t had that sighting, if only he hadn’t started off on a search, none of his friendships or colleagues would have changed, none of the drama would have occurred. And, importantly, he might never have known what was lying in wait for him at home.
The difficulty in writing a psychological thriller or mystery is providing sufficient hints of characters’ thoughts and motivations whilst keeping up the pace of the action. In all psychological fiction, deep characterisation is key.
With Uncommon Relations, one major goal for me was to provide a strong ending. This has to come at the very end of Part Two. I’ve been disappointed enough times in reading psychological thrillers that captivate utterly then fail to deliver in their final third. An exception is S.J. Watson’s Before I go to Sleep whose characters’ actions are always in tune with their personal histories.
I hope readers will find the end of Uncommon Relations both surprising and satisfying. It took me long enough to achieve!