I love psychological thrillers for the in-depth characters and storylines. I can’t think of anything better than writing the genre since it’s so close to what I do every day: meeting and counselling wonderful, complex and interesting people from all kinds of backgrounds. For me, every day as a psychologist is exciting and stimulating, and I think it is this that makes writing my books and stories feel natural to me.
You see, I can’t resist intriguing characters, storylines and plots with lots of cliff-hangers and red herrings. Whilst I use my job for inspiration, my characters and storylines are entirely fictitious as I never base characters and situations on real people and real dilemmas. Everything I do and engage with, whether that be work, writing or socialising has to be authentic. For example, my characters must be relatable, have identifiable traits and, significantly, resonate with real life experiences, good and bad, happy and sad. I meet and counsel people with all kinds of problems and conditions. Patients whose lives aren’t as privileged and fulfilled as they need them to be, and who want and hope. People who for some reason didn’t get the best start in life, whose only wish is to be seen, heard, cared for and loved, yet don’t have the tools to recognise what must happen to move forward. They need guidance and the right tools and mindset to get on with their lives. Every day I have the great fortune to meet and communicate with people I normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to encounter. These people are the reason I engage with my characters. They are my biggest inspiration and motivation to get the best out of my writing. My job allows me to convey intriguing, complex, fascinating and compelling protagonists and plots that on one hand are exciting and gripping, but are also true to – I hope that my books capture real life people and situations everyone can relate and empathise with. You see, my characters must move me, make me feel as if I’m part of the storyline, Their dilemmas, scenes and conversations have to feel real to me. Only then, when I feel their pain and happiness, as I would with any patient of mine, will I be satisfied that I’ve done my best writing. Looking at personal growth is something that comes naturally to me in my line of work – and this is what enables me to go on a journey with my characters. Without my day job I’d not be as capable of writing from my heart. It’s hard work creating and writing about traumatic events, going to the darkest places of humanity, and revisiting situations I’ve been confronted with numerous times in my line of work, but I feel it’s necessary to write genuine and heartfelt books and stories. A very good example of what I’m confronted with a lot of the time, is how abuse and grief profoundly affect lives, irrelevant of circumstances, time frame and specific events. . I’ve counselled numerous people whose lives were destroyed by this one way or the other, yet have the strength to fight for what they believe in and succeed to build a new, better and fulfilling life for them and the people they love. Their strength, zest for life and unfailing wish to survive and be stronger are my biggest inspiration.
Just like ordinary people, my characters struggle with all kinds of problems: Abusive relationships, loss of loved ones, breakups, falling in and out of love, closing one chapter and starting again. The list goes on. It’s having the insight and recognising what must change to get the best life and to overcome past events and trauma that make my characters so human and relatable, exciting and intriguing.
Every day, I get to meet and communicate with wonderful, brave, life enhancing people and situations that inspire me to create and write about what matter most to me: my wonderful, complex, loveable and not so loveable characters, and everything that goes on in their respective and interactive lives. Just like in reality, People are part of each other’s lives, whether good, bad or something in between. As an author, it’s my job to create believable protagonists, with fascinating, complex personal lives, intriguing dilemmas, and behaviour and actions that incur unexpected, irrational situations only they are capable of resolving one way or the other. Just like real life, there are happy outcomes and outcomes that are more open to interpretation.
Every patient I meet and counsel has a personal story. Every person I know and engage with have skeletons in their closet and regrets. Writing about scary, dark topics can be very hard. There are times when I’ve had to start again and re write big parts of the content but no matter how isolating and difficult, I’m always grateful for persevering and getting the best outcome for me, my characters and, hopefully, my readers. There’s something so special about reading authentic books written by people with first hand experiences and skills in their chosen careers. You’d be right in thinking that my day job and writing are the perfect combination for me. There’s a part of me, my experiences and heart, in everything I write.
“It’s okay, I’m here for you.” Clemency asked a passing doctor for directions to the morgue. Both women went up to the front desk where a receptionist took their details. “May I identify the deceased man instead of my friend, please? She’s too upset to do it.” Awaiting the stern-looking girl’s response, Patricia had a change of heart. “If it’s my husband, I want to see him,” she said weakly, convinced she would die if that man turned out to be Jacques. “Certainly, I’ll take you there myself,” the girl replied in a brusque manner. She got up from her chair and led them towards a small passage, then gave their details to a stocky middle-aged doctor sitting behind a screen. As she left, the girl didn’t say goodbye or express her condolences. She’d long since learned to not get personally involved with people identifying their next of kin. To her it was just a job that enabled her to pay the bills...