Sunday, 24 September 2017

Harrowing Research for Lost in the Lake

Most writers have to undertake background research for their novels, so I'm here to tell you about some of the grisly details I came across when preparing my latest book, Lost in the Lake!  

Lost in the Lake is a standalone novel (and also second in the series featuring intrepid psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.) It’s a twisty tale of deception, jealousy, loneliness and the craving to belong: a tangled Murder Mystery on the surface and a sinister Psychological Thriller underneath.

For the ‘mystery’ part of Lost in the Lake I had to investigate what happens when a small clapped-out van hits deep water and how you escape when it’s sinking fast. My research brought up some surprises, I can tell you, and a word of warning – it’s not for the faint hearted! 

Firstly, as soon as a vehicle hits the water and starts sinking, there’s no way you can get the doors open. This is because the pressure inside and outside is uneven until the interior has completely filled with water and the pressure has equalised. In other words, you have to wait until the car hits the bottom of the lake and is totally submerged before you can get a door open. If you try before then, you’re completely wasting valuable breath…

Once a vehicle has hit the water it usually takes between two and ten minutes for it to sink. This can happen faster, depending on the speed, angle of entry and the physical characteristics of the vehicle. So, if you can’t open the doors, what about the windows? Crucial to my story was whether the windows had winders or were electronic and I needed to know what effect the water would have on the electrics.

During my research, I came across a first-hand account of a driver who re-entered a submerged car through an open side window to retrieve his wallet. While he was inside trying to find it, the window automatically went up, the doors locked, the power shut off and he was trapped inside the car. Terrifying! The lesson being, that in most situations, the electrical system inside the car goes haywire after full submersion. That involves the central locking, windows and sun roof.

It’s worth remembering, though, that many cars have window winders in the back and central locking in the front. The vehicle in Lost in the Lake, however, is one of those small delivery vans with windows only at the front and glass panels in the back doors. In that case, if the windows lock, how on earth do you get out? My main character, Rosie, manages it somehow. She thinks she’s the only survivor…but is she?

Other amazing facts I learnt:

· You can’t break a window by kicking it even if you’re fighting for your life. You might kick so hard that the steel window frame bends out a fraction, but the glass won’t break.

· As a rule of thumb, when travelling near a large body of water, it’s advisable to crack open your window a fraction and, if the worst happens, open it fully as soon as you hit the water, before the electrics short out. This allows the water to come in and equalise the pressure faster, even if you can’t climb out that way. It will mean you can get the doors open quicker.

· Airbags need a collision force equal to running into a brick wall at 10 to 15 miles per hour to activate. Water cushions the blow in a crash into water, so airbags don’t deploy. I didn’t realise this!

I always find research for stories fascinating and an exciting outcome is that it invariably throws up new angles for the plot!

Many thanks to Anne where this post was originally posted on her excellent blog.

CLICK to join my Newsletter for book freebies and updates on new releases!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All books can be read in any order 
(Lost in the Lake is also second in the series featuring clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby)
  •  Over 400,000 books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  30,000 sold in the first month & #1 in 'Crime Noir'
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Monday, 11 September 2017

Using 'real-life' in crime fiction - How far can you go?

Thanks to CWA who originally posted this feature in their Crime Readers' Association Newsletter.

As a former psychotherapist, I’ve been faced with enough guilty secrets, obsessions and shocking revelations to keep several novelists busy for the rest of their lives! My work involved connecting with ex-convicts from high-security institutions, where I learned a lot about the so-called ‘criminal mind’ (more on this later), but I also worked with ordinary people, just like you and me, who’d been hiding guilty secrets and were admitting to affairs, fraud, even unsolved crimes.

Within the four walls of the psychotherapist’s ‘confessional’, I’ve been confronted with some unnerving disclosures during my fifteen years’ experience. I once worked with an elderly man who brought me a photo of the mannequin he kept dressed in his dead daughter’s clothes in the corner of his sitting room. Another client was convinced he was a reincarnation of 'The Messiah'. I’ve slightly changed the details here, but other examples are too sensitive and poignant to reveal to you.

So how far do I go? How much of my writing is limited by ethical constraints?

Imagine finding your own clothes on a corpse?
When using real-life material in my fiction, I have to scrutinise every aspect and alter anything that could identify an individual. As a result, I’m confident that no one reading my books would ever come across their own Doppelganger within the pages. More often than not I use a fragment of a patient’s experience and turn it into something fresh. In the above example about the mannequin, the macabre image stayed with me and led to the opening hook for The Evil Beneath, where the protagonist discovers a body in the Thames and is shocked to find the corpse is wearing her own clothes. That one striking idea set in motion the entire story.

Readers sometimes ask if real patients end up in my stories, but I tend to use a combination of fascinating character traits, instead. In Lost in the Lake for example, Rosie, the sole survivor of a crash, demonstrates  several dysfunctional behaviours I came across in my work. Rosie is a misfit because of her grim background, struggling to make friends but trying too hard, so she pushes people away. Her low self-esteem makes her clingy even though she’s forthright and obsessive. When she makes up her mind about something, she won’t let go and it is that which takes the novel in a disturbing direction…

Only once have I put a real person more or less directly on to the page – and, of course, I can’t tell you which character that is..!

One of the most interesting aspects of my work with ex-offenders was my gut-reaction when spending time with them. Far from feeling revulsion or disgust, the overriding emotional response I felt was sadness. Most of my client group were women, struggling to cope in dire circumstances, caught up in domestic violence, drug abuse or poverty. They felt they had no other course of action open to them, other than to lash out. Others claimed they were protecting their children and chose a passive-aggressive approach, resorting to arson or poisoning, rather than physical attacks. Setting a fire meant they could walk away and let fate decide what happened. These individuals found themselves so deeply entrenched in unmanageable situations that they felt they had no escape.

There's no doubt that many 'real-life' psychotherapy situations make for gripping material now that my full-time career is writing crime fiction, but I will always be careful and respectful about how I present it.

My latest book, Lost in the Lake, was released last week in paperback and ebook (99p/$1.27 for a limited period!)

CLICK to join my Newsletter for book freebies and updates on new releases!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All books can be read in any order 
(Lost in the Lake is also second in the series featuring clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby)
  •  Over 400,000 books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  30,000 sold in the first month & #1 in 'Crime Noir'
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Lost in the Lake - OUT NOW!

I'm thrilled to announce that my brand new psychological thriller, Lost in the Lake, is published TODAY in paperback and ebook!

(ebook at 99p/$1.28 for  short time only...)
You can view and buy the book at:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
and all Amazon outlets worldwide.

When a van leaves the road and plummets into a lake, all but one of the passengers are killed. Or so it seems. The sole survivor, Rosie, however knows in her bones that it wasn’t an accident, but has gaps in her memory.

That’s the tangled murder mystery on the surface, but it's only half the story. Rosie turns to psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby, to help recover her memories and that’s when the psychological thriller begins to simmer. Rosie looks like she’s searching for answers about the crash, but very soon it becomes clear that she’s after something else. When the truth about Rosie finally creeps up on Sam – she’s already seriously out of her depth…

ENJOY!


View and buy Lost in the Lake at:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
and all Amazon outlets worldwide.

CLICK to join my Newsletter for book freebies and updates on new releases!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All books can be read in any order 
(Lost in the Lake is also second in the series featuring clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby)
  •  Over 400,000 books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  30,000 sold in the first month & #1 in 'Crime Noir'
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Lost in the Lake Blog Tour

Lost in the Lake comes out tomorrow and here's the incredible line-up for the Blog Tour!
7-18 September
(see individual links below the poster) 


It's a real pleasure to have these wonderful book bloggers lined up to tell you what they think about the book. There are also Q&As, extracts and giveaways!
 
List with live links:


You can PRE-ORDER the ebook today - 99p/$1.27 for a short period only!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All books can be read in any order 
(Lost in the Lake is also second in the series featuring clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby)
  •  Over 400,000 books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  30,000 sold in the first month & #1 in 'Crime Noir'
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017