Little Boy Found: Verdict In
I always read my reviews – don’t believe authors who tell you they don’t ever look at them – and provide as much feedback as I have time for to readers, especially if they’re confused about a book’s effects. But I was more than a little trepidatious about publishing a suspense novel under a pen name.
First, it’s in a different style from the one I use for the Bryant & May novels. There’s no humour to speak of, and it’s certainly not a whodunnit. I relied on readers to figure out what was going on fairly early on, and stay with it to see how it all came out in the end. But I had problems; the ending became something that haunted me; I changed it for a reason that is clear to me now but hard to explain without spoilers here. And the idea of having dual (and duelling) protagonists; I usually prefer my stories to be third person, but most modern suspense tales tend to be told in the first person.
Now, first person is a lot easier to write (no elegant phrasing, no ‘literary’ words). However, there are all kinds of rules you have to follow. Instead of hiding secrets from the reader and gradually disclosing them, you operate with virtually full disclosure from the outset. The reader bears all the emotional weight of the story because they can see what might happen and how things can go wrong. It’s about making the reader feel powerless to do anything but read on and watch how the situation resolves.
The other main element one needs to introduce into a suspense thriller is unpredictability. We spiral events off into the least expected directions, ideally brought about by the flaws that exist in the main characters, and they must suffer for all of their bad decisions and actions.
There are many other requirements to meet in a suspenser, I don’t say I managed to put them all into place in the first LK Fox novel, as I think I was very much still on a learning curve, but I think I managed quite a few. Inevitably I didn’t please everyone. I received a few critical letters, mostly because I took the story in the direction that I, and not that particular reader, chose.
However, the harsher reviews were minimal compared against the positive reviews, and as a result the book will now go to a paperback edition. This means that LK Fox will write again. And now I’ll be attempting to apply all the rules I’ve learned to the next volume.