Guest Post by Alex Day
I am pleased to welcome Alex Day to my blog. ‘The Missing Twin’ was published as an eBook by Killer Reads in August of this year and has had a lot of good feedback so far. It is out in paperback tomorrow, the 5th October 2017. Alex has written a guest post which I hope you all enjoy.
Psychological thrillers are such big news in the book world at the moment that most people will have read one or two or ten. I love to read this genre so it seemed a logical step to write my own and, amazingly, as soon as I’d had this thought the plot for The Missing Twin appeared before me like a mirage. I know, that sort of thing doesn’t happen often – even in a psychological thriller!
The great thing about the genre is that it’s very broad so as a writer, I didn’t feel limited about what I could or couldn’t write, or that I had to include certain things in order for it to be ‘accepted’ into the fold. I’m not a fan of graphic violence in books of any type, and I simply couldn’t go into the gory details of a bloody murder or gruesome torture or anything like that. That’s not to say that there’s no violence at all in The Missing Twin. Sadly, there is – but I hope that readers will understand how and why it happens and will appreciate how and why sexual violence is so often used as a weapon of power and control over women.
It’s interesting to be writing this guest post now, after the first reviews for The Missing Twin have come in. The level of engagement with the story is fantastic, with Fatima fast becoming a firm favourite. The most gratifying thing is that many readers have said how her experiences have made them stop and think about how lucky they are in their cosy lives, and made them more aware of, and sympathetic towards, the refugee situation in the world today.
Poor Edie, bless her, is often misunderstood. I hope that readers will understand, as they progress through the book, why she is the way she is and why she does the things she does. Her character arc – what she experiences, and how she deals with it, and how she comes out the other end – is hugely important to the narrative. I really love Edie, who has so many demons to overcome, and I was rooting for her just as much as for Fatima as I was writing the tale.
I always love to hear how other authors research their work, and I have to confess to being overcome by jealousy when I hear of those who can spend six months living in a refugee camp so that they can better write the character of an asylum seeker or whatever. It would be great to have the opportunity to do this but unfortunately it simply isn’t possible for me or for the vast majority of writers. I have a home and three children to support and to do this, I must work full time as a teacher in an inner London secondary school. My writing is something I shoehorn into whatever time is left after the commitments of ten to twelve hour working days and my own kids’ needs.
As with many authors, my dream is to make enough from my writing to give up the day job – but that dream is still a long, long way off. Most ebooks sell for just £1 or £2, on which 20% VAT is payable, unlike print books. So if you buy a book for £1, 20p of what you’ve paid goes immediately to the Exchequer. The publisher takes the bulk of what’s left, with the writer getting only a small percentage, some of which goes to their agent and some to the tax man when they do their own tax return. You can do the maths and work out that it’s hard to make serious money. Writers rich as Croesus in the JK Rowling model are rare indeed.
So, to get back to the research, for a story like Fatima’s it involved hours on the internet, studying news reports and blogs and videos and photographs. I also drew on my own experience of teaching the children of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in London schools. Many of them have horrendous, and desperately sad, stories but what is amazing is their tremendous resilience and their ability to keep going. Having said that, the Syrian children I’ve met have clearly been deeply traumatised and I simply cannot imagine how that country is ever going to recover and rebuild after everything its citizens have been through.
All the research in the world, however, does not make a fiction book and the icing on the cake is one’s own imagination. How does it feel to be sure that someone’s out to get you, to know that you’re being lied to but not to know by whom? What is it like to be fleeing for your life, with no idea what new dangers lie around every corner, always fearing that you, or your children, won’t make it?
If you can imagine those scenarios, and write about them, then you can write a psychological thriller – or any kind of book, for that matter. I’m hugely excited about The Missing Twin and I hope that you will be, too, and will enjoy the experience of reading. You can follow me on Twitter at @alexdaywriter.
About Alex Day
Alex Day is a writer, teacher, parent and dreamer who has been putting pen to paper to weave stories for as long as she can remember. The Missing Twin is her first psychological thriller but she is a bestselling author of fiction under the name Rose Alexander.
Inspired by a real pair of identical twin girls, The Missing Twin also draws on Alex’s experience of teaching newly arrived refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in a London comprehensive school.
‘The Missing Twin’ is available to buy as an eBook on Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Missing-Twin-gripping-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B072TYXKLB/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1507053705&sr=1-1
It can be pre-ordered in paperback here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Missing-Twin-Alex-Day/dp/0008271291/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1507053705&sr=1-1