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‘Ice-pick-sharp, packed with intrigue, action and spine-chilling suspense. Devour will keep you gripped from the very first page’ Kathryn Fox

Media and Reviews

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On writing suspense – guest blog for the Booktopian

April 21, 2020

To celebrate the launch of my new thriller Prey I was invited to write a guest blog for The Booktopian on the topic of creating suspense in thrillers. It was great fun to write and I hope you find it interesting. Here is the link. I want to thank Booktopia for the opportunity and you can purchase paperback and ebooks of Prey through their online store here.

Just in case you can’t view the article on the Booktopia site, here is the original article:

Before the world was turned upside down by the Coronavirus pandemic and we could no longer fly to other countries, I was at ThrillerFest in New York City. One of the big topics for panel discussion was how thriller writers create suspense. Having a suspenseful plot that builds to a satisfying climax is what thrillers are all about, after all. As well as writing crime-thrillers, I also teach thriller writing at the Australian Writers Centre and I always get asked: what is suspense. One of my favourite definitions is Alfred Hitchcock’s – ‘It is when you expect something bad to happen and you are powerless to intervene.’ At ThrillerFest, best-selling author Meg Gardiner defined suspense as ‘a state of mental uncertainty about how something will pan out.’ It’s the uncertainty that keeps readers reading, it’s the puzzle we want to solve. Add to that the rollercoaster of emotions that readers experiences: the pleasurable but nail-biting excitement and anticipation regarding an outcome, such as the detective finally catching the serial killer, or the mother, who has lost everything, finding and saving her kidnapped child.

When I was writing Prey, the first question I asked myself was why should the reader care about Olivia Wolfe, the central character? If the reader doesn’t connect with her then they won’t experience her joy and despair, her terror and moments of hope. Thrillers are very plot driven, but it is the characters people remember: Jack Reacher, Phryne Fisher, psychiatrist Joe O’Loughlin, detective Jane Tennison. Which is why I spend as much time creating my characters as plotting the story. Wolfe is no ordinary journalist. She travels the world exposing heinous crimes and in so doing makes powerful enemies. She’s flawed and troubled by a past she wants to forget which creates a dramatic tension because the reader suspects her past will catch up with her. But when and how? She makes mistakes – she’s human. She’s in love with the wrong kind of guy. We’ve all been there, right? So, we can relate to her. But she’s brave and risks everything to expose a terrifying criminal syndicate who sends an assassin to kill her.

I like to raise a question and set up a mystery in the first chapter. In the opening chapter of Prey a woman is murdered by a professional killer and her boyfriend is warned to back-off or the same will happen to him. This raises the question: why was this ordinary woman murdered? Why it was made to look like a suicide. What information does the boyfriend have that’s worth killing for? In chapter two, we meet Olivia Wolfe and discover that the murder victim had met with Wolfe the day before she died and Wolfe knows a small part of a bigger mystery. It’s not until the last few chapters that we discover what the series of murders in four different countries is all about.

Here are some more of my favourite ways of building suspense:
• Don’t reveal too much, too fast – the reader wants to fill in the gaps in their knowledge about the plot and characters along the way. Keep something back.
• Drip feed vital clues and hints to the reader throughout, but keep the final piece of the puzzle until the very end.
• Use plot twists that surprise the character as well as the reader, especially in the middle part of your story.
• It’s fun to have the reader sometimes know more than the central character and be powerless to stop the character making a terrible mistake. It’s that ‘Don’t do it!’ moment.
• Ticking clocks really ramp up the suspense in a thriller too. Can he stop the faulty plane taking off in one hour? Can they diffuse the bomb in fifteen minutes? Will the serial killer take his next victim at the next full moon?
• Cliff hangers are great. They leave the reader wondering if all is lost at the end of a chapter, or hint at something bad is about to happen.
• Keep your reader unsure who will win at the climax– the hero or the adversary?
This all leads to an adrenalin pumping climax. As Jeffery Deaver once said, ‘Always keep in mind that people don’t read books to get to the middle; they read books to get to the end’.

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Blog tour for Prey – giveaways and reviews

April 18, 2020

I’ve very excited to introduce to you the wonderful bloggers who are writing reviews and doing giveaways for Prey throughout the month of April 2020. Watch out for their activity on their blogs and on social media. These fabulous bloggers are:

Lauren Keegan https://laurenkeeganwriter.com/blog/

Carpe Librum http://www.carpelibrum.net/

Debbish dotcom http://www.debbish.com/

Book’d Out https://bookdout.wordpress.com/

Book Reviews For U https://bookreviewsforu.com/

Book Lover Book Reviews https://bookloverbookreviews.com/

Prey is available in paperback and ebook from Clan Destine Press (Australian publisher), Amazon Australia, and other online bookstores around the world through the UK publisher, Bloodhound Books, which includes Amazon UK

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The Narratives Library offers help to Australian authors with new books to publicize

March 23, 2020

This wonderful offer to help Australian authors share the news of their new books was emailed to me by my good friend Karena Wynn-Moylan, founder of The Narratives Libraryry which is the world’s largest online archive of authors reading small extracts of their own work.

In her own words, here is her offer:

Last year it received over one million hits and continues to offer authors a unique platform for their work combining both online and radio platforms through the programs of its founder and radio award winner Karena Wynn-Moylan.
The ever increasing list of cancelled literary events is a blow to authors and publishers and also the Library which aims to add between 50 and 60 new authors each year from attending Festivals and related literary events.
The library is a (currently) unfunded labour of love which exists to bring the world’s attention to the value of books and literature.
As we can’t attend in person to make recordings for some time, we would like to invite all authors and publishers to take advantage of the following offer-
Karena is happy to do a phone interview with any author who has a book to promote.
This interview will be used in several ways to promote the author’s work.
1. Broadcast on Arts Canvass BayFM 99.9 -longest running Arts program on Byron Bay’s Bay FM 99.9 – every Thursday 9am-11am for 22 years! ( We can also do giveaways of authors books if you send us a copy)
2. Placed in our weekly posts from the Narratives Library website which are then kept permanently online.The posts will have the book cover, a head pic of the author and the interview. Images will link to Booktopia to help promote sales. Posts are also shared through Facebook and Linked In.
3. The interview will also be sent out in our ‘Quickpods’ program which goes through Libsyn Podcast Syndication to more than eight locations online. We will include a pic of the book cover. We can also combine the interview with other authors on ‘themes’ for longer productions. (Quickpods – one author, one interview, sometimes a read- distributed through Libsyn- the world’s longest running Podcast Syndicate, available on Spotify, Libsyn, Apple and Android). Quickpods are also shared on social media.
4. We are also happy to include authors in our regular library Category listings if they can provide a clear recording of themselves reading a 5 minutes ( or so) extract from their book .
Please note- for audio quality purposes we still can’t do these reads over the phone, only an interview.

Interested authors and publishers/publicists just need to email us at: narrativeslibrary@gmail.com
We’ll get back and between us we can set up a phone interview of around 10-15 minutes with your author. They will need to ring us on a special number at an arranged time which we will supply when confirming.
The time should be during the day, but we can do weekends if necessary.
It helps to have a copy of the book sent beforehand – Narratives Library, 3 Market St, Bangalow. NSW 2479 – but if that isn’t possible we can manage on PR material.
All our material is also freely available for you and your author to use for your own promotion.
To understand more about the Narratives Library, and read our hints on self recording check out our FAQ’s page at www.narrativeslibrary.com

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