We Play Games by Sarah A. Denzil

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We Play Games

By Sarah A. Denzil

We Play Games came about from the “what if” scenario of two scammers teaming up and getting married. What happens when those scammers decide to mess with each other as well as their marks? One of my favourite thrillers, My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing, explores a similarly twisted marriage between two killers. Downing’s book felt like a breath of fresh air to me because both the husband and the wife were dangerously dark people. I wanted We Play Games to have a similar feel.

Effie and Ben live loosely without much moral constraint. To ease their boredom, they scam other couples out of money using seduction and blackmail. Then they move, sometimes changing identity, to another location. There, they will do the same thing: spin lies, cheat people out of money, and sleep with whoever they want. Their only rule to live by is no lies, no ties. They never become emotionally attached to any place or any person and they never lie to each other.

Inevitably, one person breaks their golden rule, meaning all bets are off. Both Effie and Ben are finally free to mess with each other.

For Ben, the fun comes in playing to win. He’s a gambler. He grew up rich with a father who valued things more than people. He sees money as the ultimate win. Scamming people out of money means he’s better than them. He’s winning. For a while I wasn’t sure how to flesh out Ben as a character and how he would run his scams. But then I watched the Tinder Swindler on Netflix, and everything fell into place.

We live in an era where we communicate with our phones on a daily basis. We send each other photographs, videos, voice notes and more. In a way, it allows us to curate a whole other persona for ourselves. One thing that stood out to me on the Tinder Swindler was how the scam artist would send his victims photographs and videos of himself to garner sympathy and, eventually, money. A quick, ten second video of him in an ambulance with a bloody nose makes it seem like he is being attacked and his life is in danger. A photograph of him in a bare room looking scared is proof that he’s on the run. Or a picture of himself in a private plane means he’s a powerful, rich man with the world at his feet. He manipulated and lied to women using text messages, images and videos to curate a new narrative.

Most scammers, at least in fiction, need money and use scams as a method of obtaining power and riches. There is a sense of wanting more from life. Wanting to know how the privileged live. There’s a desire to be part of a world with more opportunities. The Talented Mr Ripley does this so well. More recently, Saltburn explores similar themes. But Effie and Ben are already from a world of privilege. Many books and movies have shown what happens when a ruthless, but down-on-his-luck character can scheme his way into the upper echelons of society. But I kept thinking about the opposite. It’s easier to trust someone when they already appear to have everything. Not just money and beauty, but background, too. It makes Ben and Effie’s antics all the more shocking.

One part of We Play Games that didn’t occur to me until I started writing it was the power dynamic between Effie and Ben. It grew more and more complex with each chapter. There are times when both appear to be equals and then times where one seems on top compared to the other. There are even times when one character believes they have all the power only to realise they have none and the other has everything. I hope that the reader is constantly questioning who in this book is a victim and who is an abuser.

The idea of how we see difficult people and question their ability to be victims was something I thought about a lot as I wrote the book. Society wants a victim to be perfect and purehearted, particularly if they are a woman, but people are not perfect, and they never act in the way we think they should. There are times when someone who has committed their own dark deeds can still be victimised by an abuser. I hope We Play Games challenges our biases towards victims and how they come across to society.

I’ve been asked a few times what makes a good audiobook and how you write a book with audio in mind. To be honest, it isn’t something I think about too much while writing. There are some twists that are harder to pull off as an audiobook. But I tend to think that a good book naturally makes a good audiobook, especially if the narrator is well cast. I work from the main character outwards and the voice of that character is very important to me. As is dialogue. And then I get to hand it over to the talents of the narrator to bring the book to life.

Psychological thrillers in particular make great audiobooks because they can be such in-depth character studies. The best of this genre really dives into the psychology and do so in a fascinating way. I love listening to thrillers and especially enjoy hearing the characters acted out. It’s a privilege to be able to deliver this experience to readers for my own books and I hope they love it as much as I loved writing the book.

(c) Sarah A. Denzil

About We Play Games:

We Play Games

When the rules turn deadly, winning is everything.

Only available from Audible, a gripping psychological thriller from the author of Silent ChildSaving April, and The Broken Ones. Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Lisa Jewell and Paula Hawkins.

This gripping multi-voice audiobook features Billie Piper as Effie, Dan Stevens as Ben, Shane Zaza as David, and Avita Jay as Sophie, other roles are played by Felicity Duncan, David Holt and Sarah Whitehouse.

The perfect couple. The perfect marriage. The perfect game.

Effie and Ben May have everything. Success. Beauty. Glamour. But beneath the charming smiles and expensive clothes, a twisted game is in progress.

A game for which only they know the rules.

Leaving their fast-paced London life behind them, the Mays move to the exclusive gated community of Ivy Oaks. Here they can settle down and start a family in this quiet, safe little neighbourhood. At least, that’s what they tell their new neighbours.

But the truth has deadly consequences.

While Effie and Ben scheme and manipulate those around them, they fail to notice their carefully cultivated façade crumbling away. The perfect couple soon turn the game on each other, breaking all the rules. But when the stakes are life and death, losing isn’t an option.

As the final cards are dealt, who will play the winning hand and who will pay the ultimate price?

We Play Games by Sarah A. Denzil is available to listen to on Audible here.

About the author

Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. Her books include SILENT CHILD, which has topped the kindle charts in the UK and Australia, as well as being a top ten Amazon bestseller in the US. SAVING APRIL and THE BROKEN ONES are both top thirty bestsellers in the US and UK Amazon charts. Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather. She loves to write moody, psychological books about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Find out more at: http://www.sarahdenzil.com/ Join the newsletter for updates: http://eepurl.com/cwAmZD Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahadenzil Email: sarah@sarahdenzil.com Writing as Sarah Dalton – http://www.sarahdaltonbooks.com/

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