Thursday, 13 July 2017

Domestic Darkness by L K Fox

Some while back I set out to write the kind of book that’s utterly alien to me in its construction; a psychological thriller.

Good psychological thrillers fascinate me, from Ira Levin’s ‘A Kiss Before Dying’ to Gillian Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’. The creation and sustaining of suspense is a completely different discipline to constructing a mystery, and within the field there are further sub-genres, one of which we now call ‘domestic suspense’, which usually has a female protagonist and barely involves a police investigation. A favourite is ‘Mischief’ by Charlotte Armstrong, which seamlessly unfolds in real time, as a woman staying in a hotel starts to suspect that a child is in danger. The novels of Margaret Millar, a forgotten author just coming back into print, are even better, but reading them is very different to writing them. I tend to construct matrices of facts rather than delving into the minds of two or three characters and putting them through the emotional wringer. This is partly because I don’t usually write first person narratives.

Four years later, fourteen drafts in, after dozens of reworkings from every angle and a hundred titles selected and discarded, the book was bought by Quercus. Now I experienced how a really thorough edit can reshape and improve a book; it’s the largest I’ve received on a manuscript and the most complex, because the story is about memory and emotion, and each editorial change pulls apart the next. Think of a jigsaw in which two thirds of all the pieces are missing an edge and you have some idea of the difficulty level involved in reassembly. But it’s been a fascinating challenge.

My editor was as excited as I was, so the novel became a big departure for me. The strategy was to start it as an e-book, then bring it into print. As it’s not written in my usual style I came up with a pseudonym; LK Fox. It’s non-gender specific, will sit right next to my regular books (FOW-FOX), and happens to be my mother’s initials. Next it needed a title and an image. That’s how ‘Little Boy Found’ was born.

I wanted to see if I could bring a new twist to the genre, and came up with a couple of angles I’d never seen in this kind of novel. Did I succeed in ringing the changes? Perhaps you’d best be the judge of that!

Little Boy Found by LK Fox
(ebook published by Quercus on 6th July 2017)

One rainy morning, just after Nick drops off his young son Gabriel outside the crowded school gates, he has a minor collision with another car. The driver won't surrender his insurance details, so Nick photographs the licence plate. When he gets home, he enlarges the shot on his phone and spots something odd about the picture - Gabriel in the back seat, being driven away by a stranger. Nick needs to know what happened to his boy, but losing Gabriel turns out to be far less terrible than the shock of finding him. Now, to discover the truth, he must relive the nightmare all over again...Be warned, this is not another missing child story: what happened to Nick and his son is far more shocking.

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