Today I’m talking to lovely lady (and evil genius writer) Sarah Pinborough all about Behind Her Eyes, her incredible new novel, a psychological thriller with bite and, for once, an ending you genuinely won’t see coming. Its really pretty damn good you know!
So we need to talk about THAT ending without actually talking about the ending. See this is how you twist me in knots. I guess I’m interested in how it came to you – did the idea for the ending come first or suddenly come to you while you were writing the story of Louise, Adele, David et al. It is kind of a chicken and egg question…
Ha! I definitely had the ending at the start. I was sitting in a cafe (of course I mean pub) trying to come up with an idea to pitch to HarperFiction (they’d approached me to see if I’d like to write for them – OF COURSE I DID) and I was playing around with ideas about a couple and an affair, but nothing was really making it stand out. Then, just as I had almost given up, I had a proper ‘What if?’ moment and the ending was just there. I can’t imagine writing a book like Behind Her Eyes without having the ending already there and working towards it. But then, I’m a massive planner. I like the puzzle part of putting a book together. I don’t do a lot of drafts – I tend to finish, tidy and send in – because I plan in quite a lot of detail as I go. And I pretty much always have the ending in place – or at least a rough version of it – in my head when I start.
If we stick with that theme for a moment, as twist endings are kind of my favourite thing if they get me, usually I get annoyed when marketing focuses on the “huge twist you won’t see coming” because I always see them coming. Not with you. Even though I do know your writing well having been a huge fan forever, you got me good and proper. In this case the marketing is entirely justified – but generally speaking do you think it does a book any favours to promise a huge surprise that may not pay off?
I love the hashtag of #WTFthatending but I was very worried it was setting me up to fail – thankfully in the main, judging from reactions thus far, it hasn’t at all. However, I do think it can be a problem in that people are reading towards a twist rather than just enjoying the ride. Marketing wise, it’s great though, and I am really really happy with the twist in my book, and I hope readers love the rest of the book too. I have read a few though where I’ve been expecting some amazing twist and what’s occurred hasn’t surprised me at all, and I’ve had to take a step back and remember that it was still a good book, even if it didn’t do – for me at any rate – what the hype was promising. MINE DOES THOUGH. (I hope!)
Backing away from that now, even if you take away the shock factor, the rest of the novel is entirely compelling and terrifically addictive – that WTF moment is just the icing on the cake. You like to tell stories that can’t be quantified – yes Behind Her Eyes is a psychological thriller but like you do with everything you write you’ve got your own vibe going on, that elusive x-factor that makes a book stand out. Is that deliberate in some ways or just the way your creative streak works?
Hmmmm…. tricky to answer. In the main, it’s just how my brain works, and it probably would have served my career better to have picked one box to sit in and stayed in it, rather than Tiggering around genres and narrative types. With this book, however, I really wanted to write the kind of psychological thriller that I’ve been reading and enjoying recently, and something really commercial, but I did want to do something different with it. Which may make it Marmite to readers, but we shall see. I’m enjoying writing thrillers, both YA and adult at the moment.
You are a prolific reader as well as a writer – are there any novels you’ve read that are coming in 2017 that you would recommend?
I’m not that prolific but over the past year or so I’ve got back into my reading habit! I would highly recommend, ‘Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine’ by Gail Honeyman, ‘Ararat’ by Christopher Golden, ‘The Forgotten Girl’ by Rio Youers, and I currently have the new Sarah Lotz to start, but it too was set on a snowy mountain and after just finishing Ararat and then Dark Matter by Michelle Paver, I needed a break before diving into a similar setting.
On a personal note, you have a new addition to your family in the form of Ted, a rescue dog who seems to have made himself utterly at home, are you loving having him around?
Most people just want me to shut up about Ted! I’m not going to lie, there were a few days when I was filled with ‘OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?’ mainly because he was terrified of other people and refused to go outside, (He’d been dumped on the streets of Romania and then got attacked and needed stitches) but he’s a little champ and is settling in fabulously, and is spoiled rotten by all my family. He’s been really good for me actually – there’s a lot less lazing around on a sofa with a dog in the house. He is totally the boss of me though;-). He’s asleep beside me on the sofa at the moment.
Finally, can you tell us anything at all about what is next for you in the writing stakes? That question I have to ask because you KNOW I suffer from chronic impatience and don’t like waiting for anything…
Ha, well I’m on the home straight of the next thriller ‘Cross Her Heart’. I should have finished it by now, but I had to write a short novel for a limited Edition press (called They Say a Girl Died Here Once) last year, and I wrote a film and I’m just finishing a ‘short’ story for an anthology that was supposed to be around 5,000 words, and is going to be about 20,000. Sigh. This is why I don’t write short stories. BUT I’m really pleased with how Cross Her Heart is coming along. Like Behind Her Eyes is very female centric – perhaps slightly more complex in some ways – and it does have a great twist. I’ve realised that my new genre is ‘books you can’t really say anything about without giving it all away.’ Not overly great for marketing;-). But my UK and US agents have read the first 30,000 words and at that point both thought it was better than BHE, and that’s all you can hope for with a next book. I want it finished and in by 7th February when I go on the US tour for Behind Her Eyes, so I can get on with the next YA thriller when I get back hopefully.
Well now I want to read it immediately but this is the life of a book addict…thanks Sarah!
About the Book:
Don’t trust this book. Don’t trust this story. Don’t trust yourself.
David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He’s a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden?
As Louise, David’s new secretary, is drawn into their world, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong – and how far someone might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.
Find out MORE
Follow Sarah on TWITTER
To Purchase Behind Her Eyes clickety click right HERE
Follow the Tour!