Psychological Thriller

A Secondhand Life

A Secondhand Life - Pamela Crane

As I noted in my previous book review, I struggle with psychological thrillers. 

But once again, great writing and an intense plot made for one heck of a book.

To begin with, the plot does have some disturbing attributes. Not only do you see a bit of the story through the eyes of the killer, but as a reader, we're given some insight into the killer's motives and emotions, which definitely made me squeamish and a little sick to my stomach. 

The writing is superb and the author does a fantastic job of building suspense and drawing out the plot. 

If you are of psychological thrillers, I'm confident you will not be disappointed with A Secondhand Life.


Some Bio Information

My name is Pamela Crane, and I am a professional juggler. Not the type of juggler who can toss flaming torches in the air, but a juggler of four kids, a writing addiction, a horse rescuer, and a book editor by trade. I live on the edge (ask my Arabian horse about that—he’ll tell you all about our wild adventures of me trying to train him!) and I write on the edge. My characters and plots are my escape from the real world of dirty diapers and cleaning horse stalls, and I thrive off of an entertaining tale. To pick up a copy of a FREE book, or find out more about my chaotic existence, visit my website at www.pamelacrane.com


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Nine years ago a traumatic experience propelled me to write my first book after I realized how therapeutic it can be. Since then, my darkest or most perplexing experiences have shaped each story, which led me to write A Secondhand Life. After receiving a heart transplant, the main character, Mia, experiences an actual scientific phenomenon called “organ memory” where she is plagued by a murder victim’s horrific memories and uses them to track the killer at large. Sound more like fiction than fact? I have proof it’s real. A friend of mine underwent a lung transplant and ended up having memories that weren’t his. The book is inspired by his real experiences with organ memory, which fascinated me enough to base my book on it. Though luckily his memories involved nice things like holiday dinners, not murder.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

When life hits me with a story I want to tell, my first step is to jot down the concept. After that, I let the story take me where it wants. I usually start off with a character profile—who among my friends and family will be my next protagonist? It could be you!—and a general story outline, but the details often lead me along tangents I don’t expect. It’s interesting to see how the story develops a life of its own this way—and it’s this lack of method that results in the twist endings that I’m generally known for having.  


3. What is your least favorite part of the writing process? 

Write a paragraph. Change a diaper. Write another paragraph. Nurse a newborn. Write another paragraph. Tend to a nightmare-riddled child. This is my least favorite part of writing—the ceaseless interruptions that hinder progress. But lo and behold, I do on occasion find a rare hour or two when everyone’s asleep, with clean diapers and full bellies, when I can get a lot of writing done. 

4. How would you describe the perfect writing environment? 

Have you ever seen the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? In the movie there’s this redneck cousin named Cousin Eddie, whose family lives in a decrepit, rusted-out, toxic RV. I happen to own the same one! As ancient and hideous as our RV is, it makes the perfect writing getaway and is right in my backyard (even though I often disown it when asked if it’s mine—it’s that ugly!). Something about being crammed in this tiny house on wheels feels…quaint. Plus it’s a free escape from the distractions inside my house (i.e., four needy kids and piles of laundry and dishes to clean). So when I need a writing retreat, I stock up on chai tea, salad, and junk food, bring my laptop and some soothing music, and type until my fingers bleed. Quite frankly, some of my most powerful prose has been inspired by such tight quarters, since no thought has room to flee.

5. What can readers expect from you in the future? 

My prequel to A Secondhand Life, titled A Secondhand Lie, is set to release this winter. It shares more about Landon’s personal journey, what put his father behind bars, and how those characters developed, since readers requested an encore to reveal more about their lives. I even shed some light on the alleged child predator found in A Secondhand Life, though his drama may have earned him an entire book of his own.

6. How would you describe your writing style? 

The best word I can use to describe my writing style is “honest,” because I write how I think. I love poetic prose, but I also love grit, so in my writing I try to achieve a balance of vivid literary style and raw realism. But to make the story really stick with readers, my writing always weaves in dark, creepy details to reveal just how gruesome—and beautiful—human nature can be…

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

My greatest goal with each book is to write what no one has written before. In an entertainment industry full of remakes (the original is almost always better) and overdone sequels (Rocky VI, anyone?), my passion is to deliver something innovative. Is it even possible? Since my experiences are unique to me, I sure hope so, but that’s my objective with every project: deliver something refreshingly entertaining (and a little disturbing too—insert evil laughter here!).

Pretty Maidens All In a Row

Pretty Maidens All In a Row - J.M. Brown

Psychological thrillers always seem to scare me more than paranormal thrillers or monster/creature based plots. I think part of the reasoning is that it saddens me to think of what humans are capable of doing to one another. 

That being said, those types of plots make for great suspenseful books. 

This fast paced and edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller kept me on my toes. I was anticipating the ending, but the author pulled off the twist well. JM Brown is a very skilled writer in dialogue and suspense building. 

While I struggled with the scenes from the killer's point of view (just because they make me squeamish) I though the heroine was wonderfully written and the ending was cathartic.


Some Bio Information

Lives in Newfoundland, Canada. Graduated from the Grace General Hospital School of Nursing in 1980 at nineteen years of age and went on the specialize in psychiatry / psychology. Characters in the novels are fictional but are created from experiences while counselling patients in psychiatric institutions. Started writing at a young age but didn't publish until February of 2015. Has a keen interest in the supernatural, from both a personal and professional level and has decided to weave stories based on real life experiences.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

The inspiration for the book came from ideas that I jotted down while working as a psychiatric nurse. The patients that I counselled suffered from mild depression to psychotic paranoia. I took a lot of advanced courses to deal with them and I had patients that closely resemble some of the characters I wrote about. The story is loosely based on some events that resulted in the victim ending up in psyche ward, trying to deal with someone who was getting a little too "friendly" and did her some harm. 
 
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I usually write in the seclusion of our cabin where it is very peaceful and I have a clear mind away from the stresses of everyday life. That's not the only place though because sometimes I get ideas that have to be written down immediately. This can happen in a grocery store when I see something that sparks a great notion to build on. I do write at home when I can find time. Life is very busy today. 
 
3. What is your least favorite part of the writing process?  

The thing I hate the most is not in the writing process at all, except for the constant editing that's needed to try and make it flawless. It's the promoting and marketing, which is very overwhelming. There is too much competition out there today and the chances of getting noticed is hard to attain. 
 
4. How would you describe the perfect writing environment? 

The perfect writing environment is somewhere that is very peaceful and relaxing as I mentioned in another question. I have a room in my home with a fireplace and looking into the crackling fire can inspire lots of ideas. 
 
5. What can readers expect from you in the future?  

I am working on a new novel that has a bit of paranormal mixed into the beginning but it will, for the most part, be another psychological thriller that will keep readers guessing until the end, as in my debut novel. All my novels will have a children's nursery rhyme theme but are definitely not for children. I have many story ideas that will surface in the future. I love to write. 
 
6. How would you describe your writing style? 

I set out to be a thriller writer but my experiences with patients at psychiatric facilities has turned my writing into a bit of a dark style, according to my reviews. Parts of my novels are a little graphic but other parts are quite romantic. I like to go along kind of normal and peaceful and then drop a bomb that makes the reader wonder what happened. It's my job to resolve one problem before the next tragedy happens. 
 
7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I write for pleasure but like all new authors, I would love to have a huge following, waiting for the next book. That's very hard to achieve but I've learned quite a lot from my first novel experience and it will show in the next one. There is great satisfaction when a complete stranger recognizes me, tells me that the book was awesome, and wants to know when another one will be ready.