Today, I am delighted to welcome to my blog Wendy Walker to talk about her novel All is Not Forgotten. My review follows the post.
Talking Genres: Psychological Thrillers.
As an author, I am frequently asked why psychological thrillers have become so popular in recent years. While I don’t believe we can ever fully understand what drives social trends, I do think the answer lies within the fact that we are moving, as a world culture, toward more complex and non-linear forms of entertainment. Because of the overwhelming amount of devices and applications, we often have numerous inputs running all at once. We can follow them all if they are simple and moving in a straight line. But this takes away from the pleasure of certain types of entertainment, such as television drama, film and books. Most of us want to be so engrossed in a story that we live and breathe it and forget our own lives. Entertainment is about escaping and feeling things we don’t normally feel. Some of the newer films and television dramas that have been successful have captivated audiences with their multidimensional deliveries. We see the plot from years ahead, and years behind. We see the characters in the past and present and future. And we have to piece together the plot using the clues given to us. This forces us to be engrossed and occupies every part of our brains and in the end we do escape because we cannot follow the story if we don’t give it our full attention. I know something is good when I have to shut my computer screen (and with it facebook, twitter and my three email accounts!).
Today’s psychological thrillers are structured in a way that makes us close our screens. By using an “unreliable” first person narrator, a new layer of suspense is added. Not only is the reader trying to solve the mystery or guess the ending, he or she is having to figure out when the story teller is being truthful or not. This requires far more attention than a reliable narrator structure. Also, writing in the first person gives the reader a higher level of intimacy with the narrator. Through techniques such as word choice, sentence structure and cadence, the author can deliver subtle, even subliminal information to the reader about the narrator. This, too, pulls the reader in. We are a culture that is very used to intimacy through our social media interactions. First person narration satisfies that need.
In writing my novel, All Is Not Forgotten, I had all of this in mind! The structure attempts to create that feeling of total escape by telling the story in a way that is new, but that is as seamless as an engrossing conversation with a friend. It has a first person narrator who is “unreliable,” which gives the reader that new layer of suspense. I also designed it to move in different directions, backwards and forwards and sideways, but in a fluid, conversational way. It was my goal to grab the reader, make him or her stop everything else, put away computers and phones and televisions, and focus on the characters and the story and emotions they contain. I wanted reading this novel to feel like those times when you get lost in a story by a friend to the point that you don’t open the menu, don’t order a drink and wave off the waiter because you just have to hear the ending! Finally, I chose subject matter that is grounded in real world issues that every one of us can relate to. What would we do in Jenny’s situation? What choice would we make for ourselves or our child? It is my hope that All Is Not Forgotten will give readers everything they want from a book – total escape, emotional connection to the characters, and a thought provoking topic!
About the book:
You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime.
Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.
That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.
Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.
And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.
It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.
I can say that All is Not Forgotten will be one of the books that I will thinking about that long after I finished reading it.When Jenny is brutally raped she is given a drug to help her forget the event, despite her father’s wishes. When she attempts suicide eight months later the family start seeing a psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist is the main narrator, but parts are also narrated by other people during the counselling sessions. You get to see how each family member is coping or otherwise. He is also counselling an ex soldier who has had the same drug administered after he was injured whilst on duty. He becomes a good friend to Jenny under the watchful eye of the psychiatrist.
I found it a little slow at first. It become much more gripping after the suicide attempt when the sessions started. Even though the novel is mainly about Jenny and her parents the psychiatrist and his family are also prominent. At first I liked him but when I read his thoughts about his family, especially his wife, I saw him in a different light.
It would be very easy to dislike both parents and the psychiatrist but they were all trying to do the best thing for Jenny and help her deal with what happened to her. All of them were affected by events in their own childhood and when you realised what they were you understood more why they handled the crisis the way they did.
How they handled it might not have been the correct way but what the author does very well is demonstrate how fear, loyalty, guilt and anger all affect rationality. It’s a great read, brutal and shocking at times but very clever.