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SANDMAN REVIEWS


A gripping psychological read with characters that reach out and grab you. A real page turner.

SOPHIE KING
bestselling author of The Wedding Party and other novels

Sandman touches our primary emotions: jealousy, love, fear, hatred, and grief... Kingsley has written an intriguing mystery/psychological thriller with interesting, believable and well-developed characters. There are twists, turns, red herrings, and a healthy dose of hair-raising fear and suspense to keep even the most fickle reader captivated. The dialogue is authentic, and, along with the scene-painting narrative, you’ll feel like you’re on the beach witnessing the unfolding action.
Highly recommended to readers who enjoy a great mystery!

WILLIAM POTTER
Reader’s Choice Book Reviews
(5 Star Rating)

Readers can't help turning the pages compulsively as we are seduced with small details and quick punchy dialogue... nothing is as it seems... it made me think I was watching a movie focusing on several characters that are all subtly interwoven into the threads of each other's lives... a novel you may want to re-read, once for the sheer thrill of the story, and again to fully absorb its implications.

NORM GOLDMAN
Bookpleasures.com
(5 Star Rating)

What makes a great psychological thriller?

I'm not saying I've written a great psychological thriller — although I've tried darn hard — but rather I am discussing in this article: what makes a great psychological thriller? (I leave you to judge how successful I've been if you care to read my attempt in 'Sandman'.) So I am discussing ingredients, here, and those I decided to use, if we continue with the baking analogy for a moment. So, 'What makes a good psychological thriller?' was the critical question running through my mind when I was searching for a storyline. In essence, I believe it has to be a novel in which the reader becomes directly engaged with the thinking of the principal characters.
Usually the author of a thriller wishes the reader to empathise — bond even — with their protagonist, but I would suggest the suspense can be racked-up — maybe even doubled — if the reader similarly engages with the psyche of the antagonist. So that was my first aim. A good method of achieving this seemed to be to place the protagonist (good guy) and antagonist (bad guy) 'on the same rails', as it were, heading up against each other; in other words, both feeling entirely justified in thinking quite the opposite to each other. It sounded interesting, and that was the germ of the idea that led me to writing my novel called 'Sandman'.
I also decided to make the antagonist have both unlikable and likeable aspects, to have vulnerable characteristics despite being dangerous, and to manipulate the reader to amend his or her empathy for this character as the book progresses and they get to know him better. It was therefore necessary to give him a real — but flawed — character type. As part of my researches I studied the psychology of character types and used this as the basis for drawing out my characters. It is one thing to know what they look like and how they speak, but it is entirely another to know how they think. By basing them on accepted psychological character types I aimed to achieve more realism. (This research ended up in a 6-month diversion in which I created what I called the P4 Personality Mapping tool. I made it available on the web so other authors can employ it because it offers an intuitive way of homing-in on 32 very different and very real character types: 16 normal and 16 flawed.)
What is really important for a psychological thriller is to get right into the minds of those who are most affected: those who suffer most. They must have serious fears if you are to write a thriller, and suspense can be created if their troubles are looming but have not yet arrived. In my case I wanted to certainly be within the mind of both protagonist and antagonist, so this suggested at least two points-of-view, and this ruled out a first-person treatment. When it came to the actual storyline, a couple of other points-of-view were added so that their fears can also be 'shared' with the reader, first-hand.
Of course, once you have several points-of-view, you have a potentially difficult story to control because the reader must never become confused by this; they always need to know 'who they are'. It is very unwise to switch point-of-view within a scene, and many authors restrict it to chapters, but if you want to make the most of the potential drama then scene shifts should be allowed — provided they can remain clear-cut. In my case I decided to go for that, for in one dramatic scene I had in mind, I wanted to see things from three different points-of-view: the protagonist, the antagonist and another principal character, the potential victim of a near accident.
As part of the process of controlling points-of-view so as to minimise confusion in the reader's mind, I decided to subtly change what I shall call the mood of what writers refer to as voice: the literary equivalent of timbre reflected more in the words used than actual tone. Add in the thoughts of the principal characters and you can modulate voice and tailor it to the character. This gives the reader a subconscious link to whom they are reading about.
Thrillers require threats, danger, desperate action, but psychological thrillers aim to focus on how all this affects those characters the reader gets to care about, and that is far more important than police procedure or forensic subtly. In a plain thriller you are excited about the plot, the clues, but in psychological thrillers you are excited by the way you engage with the characters. That's also an ingredient that makes a thriller difficult to put down. You should get a thrill from experiencing a character's fears and also their excitement when things go well again — if, as a writer, you are kind enough to let that happen.
It is interesting to get as deeply into the mind of the bad guy as you do of the good guy... to try to understand his or her motivations, even if you do disagree with them. Throw into the mix confusion, misunderstanding on behalf of both, and you have a rich mix. These are the ingredients I used to cook-up 'Sandman', and this article provides an insight into my thinking while writing this novel. If you read it just after reading this article, you will see how it all panned out. Hopefully you will also enjoy it.


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