As a writer and a reader, I find the thriller genre a rollercoaster ride of tension, suspense, and high-stakes challenges. I’m fascinated by fast-paced, complex plots, and relatable characters I care about. That’s why I’m attracted to writers like Amy Young, and why I’ve invited her to share her thoughts about writing thrillers. Enjoy this week’s guest post!
All genres of fiction rely on certain conventions that define their space. In thrillers, red herrings abound, intelligent psychopaths hide in the shadows, and a clock slowly ticks away as the main character tries to solve the puzzle. And as a reader, there are a few thriller tropes that I cannot get enough of.
Dual (or Triple) Timelines or Narratives
The dual timeline setup is a popular method for creating suspense within a thriller narrative. Whether it’s done by alternating chapters or having one half of the book told from one perspective and the second half from another (or a third, as the case may be), this is one of my favorite thriller tropes. As a reader, we believe what a narrator tells us as the story goes along; but when a writer incorporates dual narratives, they create the opportunity to show that perspective is everything when it comes to buying into someone’s story.
Five people on an island, one of them turns up dead or goes missing? I’m sold. The isolation trope is used over and over again in thriller writing, and it never gets old for me. I’m drawn to titles like “The Island” or “The Getaway” for the seclusion and separation they promise. Throw in a good old fashioned “no cell phone service” layer and I’m hooked.
A Closed Circle of Suspects
The closed circle of suspects can go hand in hand with the isolated locale trope. In a setting like a city, there are endless possibilities for suspects. Trap everybody in a cabin or on an island during a storm, and the circle becomes much, much smaller. This trope appeals to me because it allows the reader to really get to know the characters (suspects) without the noise of the outside world.
The Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable narrators are by far my number one favorite of the thriller tropes. From the moment we meet the narrator in The Tell Tale Heart, he assures us that he is trustworthy and rational. Never mind that he’s the one who murdered the person buried below the floorboards. Admittedly, this is a trope that has been used quite a bit in recent writing, so much so that it’s difficult to trust any narrator now. However, it still remains one of my favorite twists in a story, no matter how many times I come across it. And it also leads me to ask the question: are any first-person narratives really reliable?
Now that we’ve heard Amy’s views on thriller tropes, let’s take a closer look at the first in her Lakeview Mysteries, The Water Tower.
Josie Ashbury was a successful Hollywood actress with a booming career—until an on-set breakdown sends her back to her small Ohio hometown to recover. Taking a job teaching at her old high school, Josie is beginning to put the pieces of her life back together when one of her students dies under suspicious circumstances. The police close the case quickly, without any real answers. Josie is determined to find the truth behind the girl’s death. At the same time, Josie is battling demons of her own. As she faces debilitating insomnia that leaves her with gaps in her memory, she dives into the tangled secrets surrounding the investigation. When she finally unravels the web, she discovers that the truth lies much closer to home than she could have ever imagined.
Praise for The Water Tower:
“Start with a suspicious death of a beloved student, add a devoted former starlet turned drama teacher, and a dash of the police closing the case far too quickly, and you have the makings of a twisting and propulsive mystery. Amy Young’s The Water Tower will keep you flipping the pages to find out who killed the politician’s young daughter, and then have you checking if your teenager is where they should be tonight.” ~ Mary Keliikoa, multi-award nominated author of HIDDEN PIECES and the PI Kelly Pruett mystery series
“The Water Tower is an electrifying work of suspense that depicts a wonderful hometown setting. This slow-burn mystery with sparkling prose has a well-crafted plot that is at once engrossing and fully realized from beginning to end. I highly recommend this engaging mystery.” ~ David Putnam, Bestselling author of the Bruno Johnson series and Dave Beckett series
Genre: Mystery Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: June 20, 2023 Number of Pages: 290
ISBN: 9781685122775 Series: The Lakeview Mysteries, Book 1
Read an excerpt:
Amy Young is an author, comedian, and actor based in Cleveland. After spending a decade in Los Angeles working in the entertainment industry and writing her debut novel, The Water Tower, she returned to Ohio to be closer to family. Amy is working on her second book, a thriller, and in her free time she enjoys going to the theatre, bingeing reality TV, and spending time with her husband and many, many cats. She has a B.A. in English from Kenyon College.
Catch Up With Amy Young:
AuthorAmyYoung.com Goodreads BookBub – @authoramyyoung1 Instagram – @amypcomedy Twitter – @authoramyyoung Facebook – @authoramyyoung TikTok – @amypyoung1
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!
ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN:
This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Amy Young. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.