Who can say where stories come from? For me, they start with a tiny core, a single idea. Maybe a character or a single situation, a point of crisis or a relationship I want to know more about. Wrap a few more ideas around the core, then a few more, check its pulse to make sure it’s starting to live and breathe. Then sit down and start writing.
The core idea of LIES came to me while we were driving to Brittany for our summer holiday. I was supposed to be navigating but got so caught up with the idea – and scribbling it down in my notebook before it disappeared – that we got lost. We had to go on a bit of a magical mystery tour to pick up our route again, but the story of LIES was already starting to live and breathe (in my head, at least).
Like everyone else, though, I’ve been inspired and influenced over the years by thrillers that I’ve loved and the people who have written them. My favourite authors include Michael Connolly, Harlan Coben, Linwood Barclay, Tana French, Lee Child, Sophie Hannah, Bernard Cornwell, Peter Swanson, Stephen King, Gillian Flynn and Ken Follett. I’ve missed lots out, but that might give you an idea of the kind of stories that I love to read – and write.
In no particular order, here are a few of the stories that inspired LIES:
I remember being bowled over by Harlan Coben’s Tell No One. It was the first time that I’d read one of his thrillers and it featured his trademark combination of a cracking story, great dialogue, compelling bad guys and a protagonist you’re rooting for from page one. Coben is also adept at bringing in technology and making it a turning point in his story, as when the hero sees an image of his wife – supposedly dead for eight years – on his computer screen.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was one of many great recommendations from my wife, Sally. I loved this book. The slow unravelling of the truth about Amy Dunne takes the story in ways you can’t predict. Is she alive or dead? Is her husband involved in her disappearance? Is the truth simply what we believe it to be? The blurring of fact and fiction, the creation of different versions of the truth, feature strongly in LIES.
I have lots of favourites by Stephen King but Misery is at the top. It’s so simple, basically two characters in a house for 95 per cent of the story, and yet he manages to make it utterly gripping and terrifying. Stephen King is the master at that sense of ‘creeping doom’, at building the tension slowly, as Paul Sheldon comes to realise that there is something very, very wrong with the situation in which he finds himself.
A Simple Plan by Scott Smith grabbed hold of me in such a way that it became like an addiction. A real high concept premise – three guys find a bag full of money in the woods – but so many twists and turns that it was impossible to put down. At its heart it’s about the terrible things people will do in pursuit of what they think is right, and the crimes they will justify on the way.
Last but definitely not least (and not a book, either), I tip my hat to Les Diaboliques, a French film about betrayal, obsession, and murder. Check it out if you ever get the chance. It has a killer twist – when it was shown in cinemas, a title screen appeared at the end of the movie asking the audience not to reveal it to others, so they wouldn’t spoil the surprise. I hope the twist at the end of LIES has a similar impact!
What are your favourite thrillers? Let me know @TMLoganAuthor
WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES?
When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.
And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.
But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.
When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.
And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .