Published by Canelo
Release Date: 10th July 2017
Together with The Princess & the Pen, I’m delighted to be starting off the blog tour launch celebrations for Ask No Questions, published today. Firstly I have a guest post from Lisa below on ‘How to Plot a Thriller’, and then a little about the book.
How to Plot a Thriller
by Lisa Hartley
Firstly, I must admit that being asked to write a blog post focusing on ‘How to Plot a Thriller’ had me worried, because it would mean I’d have to admit to something I’ve not really talked about before.
I don’t plot.
Not in any detail, anyway. I have tried to in the past, but it doesn’t work for me. I know some writers plan every chapter, even every scene, and while I can see the appeal of doing so, I’ve never been able to work that way. I find that ideas, twists and turns, even the characters, come to me as I’m writing, not before. I have to start getting words on the page before even some aspects of the main story begin to occur to me. Working this way, things happen that I couldn’t have predicted before I began to write. It’s an approach that seems to work for me, although I understand some writers wouldn’t want to start writing with no plan to work to. I’m not saying I’ll never approach plotting differently, but for now, this is how I work.
For my latest book, ‘Ask No Questions’, I started, as I have in other books, with a character. Detective Caelan Small appeared into my head, ready for whatever situation I introduced her to. I decided she would be a Metropolitan Police officer, one that specialised in undercover work. I thought this situation would be interesting for readers, and I also hoped it would allow me a little more flexibility with what Caelan would and wouldn’t be able to do than a straight police procedural would.
Next was location. My other books have been set in a fictional Lincolnshire town, and in the city of Lincoln itself. Although Lincoln has a cameo role in ‘Ask No Questions’, I decided to base Caelan in London. Why? Because I felt it would offer more scope, more opportunities for the sort of crimes Caelan would be involved in investigating to happen. Although I’ve never lived in London my partner has, and I used that knowledge as well as street views and satellite images to get a feel for the places I wanted Caelan to visit. I have been to some of the locations myself, but without spending a lot of time wandering around, which I’m not able to do, using the internet to explore is the next best thing.
Then, I sat down and began to write. The first few thousand words of a new book are always the ones I find most difficult. Opening a blank document and staring at an empty page is daunting, and if you’re not careful, the task before you can seem overwhelming. I find setting myself an easily manageable daily word count helps. I have quite a busy life, and though I’m lucky enough to not have a job other than my writing, I still have other responsibilities which mean I can’t always dedicate full days to my work. I know that if I commit to writing 500 or 600 words a day, I can manage to fit that around my son’s care, appointments and so on while working towards my goal of a finished first draft. I usually write much more, but on the days when I can’t, I can usually manage to get at least that many done.
As I write, different strands of the story begin to appear. A new character might stroll into the scene, meaning I need to stop and give them a name, then picture them in my head. If Caelan steps onto the Tube, I have to make sure she’s heading in the right direction, maybe check the stations she passes through. I tend to research as I’m writing – because I don’t plan, I’m not sure what I’ll need to find out about beforehand.
Even if you don’t map out your whole book in detail, when you’re writing a thriller you still need to make sure it has plenty of action, memorable characters, twists and turns. Your characters will have their backs to the wall, fighting for whatever it is they believe in or trying to solve the mystery, and your reader should be there, experiencing it all with them. Characters need to find themselves in danger, but they also need moments of quiet, of introspection. There should be suspense, intrigue. If you have those elements, hopefully your book will work, regardless of whether it was plotted scene by scene or not.
About the book:
Some secrets were meant to stay hidden… Trust no-one
After an operation goes badly wrong, undercover specialist Detective Caelan Small leaves the Metropolitan Police for good. Or so she thinks. Then the criminal responsible is seen back in the UK.
Soon Caelan is drawn back into a dangerous investigation. But when the main lead is suddenly murdered, all bets are off. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone is a suspect – even close colleagues.
Someone in the Met is involved and Caelan is being told to Ask No Questions.
This isn’t an option: Caelan needs answers… whatever the cost.
The nerve-shredding new crime thriller from bestseller Lisa Hartley starts a must-read new series. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Robert Bryndza, it will keep you guessing until the very end.
About the author:
Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. In addition to this new series with Canelo she is also working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel.
At the time of publishing this post, Ask No Questions can be downloaded from Amazon UK for 99p