When asked what prompts me to write psychological thriller the answer always remains the same. I’m fascinated by what shapes people and I like to strip away the layers and share with readers a little of what lies beneath the surface. A writer’s mind thrives on exploration. Every scenario, every face, every place tells a story. I love to look at family dynamics, delving beneath the surface to seek out what drives people, what secrets they might keep, what challenges they might have to overcome to keep their families safe. The Liar’s Child looks at an ordinary couple striving to do their very best for their child under extraordinary circumstances.
Once I have a nucleus of a story and an outline, that being a beginning a middle and an end, I find the characters tends to lead me. Sometimes, though, I’m never truly certain of who is the ‘good guy’ and who is the bad. I do think those two elements are pivotal to the plot – action causing reaction, characters feeding off each other. There are many facets to human nature; no one can be truly good or irretrievably bad. Or can they? The driving force linked to most murders, I’m reliably informed by a former DCI, is humiliation. How many of us haven’t felt humiliated at some point in our lives? Who hasn’t wished for revenge, even those who would see themselves as fundamentally good and caring. In writing psych thriller, I find myself exploring the darker side of human nature, looking at the nature vs nurture conundrum, if you like. Is badness in the genes? Is it brain function or childhood experience that creates a monster? A combination of all three possibly?
The Liar’s Child covers some sensitive topics and Poppy’s story in particular might touch parents of children with chronic illness. So, am I ‘writing what I know?’ To a degree, yes. In writing about people, you do draw on experience and, having lost someone to such an illness over this dreadful pandemic period, I felt a need to explore a story about the raw emotion that situation can evoke. When writing, experience isn’t always enough. A storyteller has to become adept a research in order to get the crucial details right. I don’t think I am alone in worrying about those readers who would also have had such experiences and the one thing you never, ever want to do is to seem to treat the subject matter glibly. Extensive research was call for therefore when writing The Liar’s Child.
Little Poppy has a kidney disease. Kay and Matthew are determined to give their precious daughter her best life possible. I am writing psychological thriller, however, and therefore secrets, breeding feelings of jealousy, doubt and mistrust, will come into play, threatening the safe walls they’ve built around their daughter, threatening the fabric of their marriage. Of course, you have to make a story believable, getting every facet of an illness or condition, the treatment as well as the symptoms right. Only after many, many hours of research both online and talking to face to face with professionals, are you able to ‘put pen to paper’. But wait. You’re not quite as ready as you think you might be. You have a mine of information, and you have to feed that information in without overwhelming your reader with boring medical information which will detract from the story. For instance, Poppy’s father is a neonatal specialist. You can’t just say that’s what does without backing that claim up with real life scenarios. Suddenly, you’re in danger of writing a hospital drama. So, having carefully compiled all our research, we than have to hone it, cutting out anything superfluous that doesn’t add to the story and drive it forward.
Thank goodness, the book has had some really positive feedback in regard to that aspect. I quote:
‘I felt every bit of pain and each obstacle that Kay and Matt were enduring. With young daughter, Poppy, being so sick, this really added to the tension. I can only imagine the level of research needed for this book and fully appreciated every bit of it.’
‘There has been an impressive amount of research done for this book, much facts ( not boring ) … also research on being a paediatrician and also adoption.’
Thank you Carla Kovach and Mark Fearn.
If I might offer a bit of advice, therefore (from someone who does tend to let words run away with her!), it would be ensure your research is extensive, but also to make sure you have your surgical scissors at hand in the relaying of that research.
As always, I remain truly grateful to readers and reviewers for that all important feedback. That is the true impetus that keeps me at my desk…
along with my editorial team.
Happy writing, researching and reading all!
(c) Sheryl Browne
About The Liar’s Child:
I’ll do anything to protect my daughter…
When I pick my beloved daughter Poppy up from school one afternoon, my mind races when I see the little girl holding Poppy’s hand. With the same heart-shaped face, long brown hair and dark eyes, the two girls look identical. In fact, they look like sisters.
Is the secret I’ve been holding on to for so long about to be revealed?
That night, I cuddle Poppy even harder, desperately trying to decide what to do. And then my husband’s phone vibrates. A message. And then another. And another. All from a number I don’t recognise.
Is someone going to tell my husband what I did? Could I be about to lose everything I have worked so hard to protect?
But I’ve spent so long hiding the truth, I never stopped to wonder if I was the only liar in the family… The only thing I’m sure of is that nobody is going to take my child away from me.
If you can’t get enough of addictive psychological thrillers like Gone Girl, The Wife Between Us and The Marriage, you’ll love The Liar’s Child. With nail-biting suspense and an ending that will make your heart pound, this is one book you simply won’t be able to put down.
Order your copy online here.