AUTHOR GUEST POST: Constructing the Perfect Thriller by Sam Carrington


For those that love a good Thriller, today i have Sam Carrington and her guest post on Constructing the Perfect Thriller. After reading this really interesting piece, be sure to check out her book Bad Sister, which is out now and is published by Avon Books.



If someone could please tell me how to pen the perfect thriller, that would be great!

When I was asked about constructing “the perfect thriller” – I immediately thought of a few things, started to list them, then stopped.

I realised I just don’t know! There is plenty of advice to be found online and in ‘how-to’ books, but if you were to follow these to the letter, would it make the best thriller novel? Would everyone everywhere love it and think, ‘Yes! This is perfect’?


What I DO know is what I myself enjoy in a thriller novel. You see, what’s ‘good’ to me may well be awful to another reader. You only have to look at Amazon reviews to see how a book you absolutely loved, and thought was the best thriller ever, has been panned by a number of other people! I’ve seen things like ‘this is the worst book I’ve EVER read’ and ‘This is the most boring book ever’, for novels I thought were brilliant page-turning thrillfests.

So, to consider constructing the perfect thriller I will let you know some of my favourite books from the genre. They are:

Now You See Me – by Sharon Bolton
Post Mortem – by Patricia Cornwell
Gone Girl and Dark Places – by Gillian Flynn

I think these books all have the elements I believe are important and ones I think about while I’m planning, then writing my own novels:

– Characters you either love, or hate – but ones that elicit a reaction
– A strong, complex main character and a good cast of supporting ones.
– A key question that is central to the story, but isn’t answered until much later – and others are continually set as you progress through the novel.
– Characters changing, being thrown curve balls. Put them into horrible situations, then make it even worse for them.
– Pace – end chapters with a cliff-hanger, or at least in a moment of change, or a question to make sure your readers want to read ‘just one more chapter’.
– Suspense – alternating viewpoints can add suspense and tension.
– Twists and red herrings
– An ending that makes you think. Satisfying, yet with enough to make readers continue to think about the story after they’ve turned the final page…

I don’t mind neatly wrapped up endings, but if I’m honest, I prefer ones that allow you to speculate, make you think.

I hope these elements are found in my novels, Saving Sophie and Bad Sister, even if they are not the perfect thrillers – I hope they are enjoyed by many readers.


Release Date: OUT NOW

Published by: Avon UK
Genre: Thriller


When flames rip through their family home, only teenager Stephanie and her younger brother escape unhurt. Brett always liked to play with fire, but now their dad is dead and someone has to pay the price.


Psychologist Connie Summers wants to help Stephanie rebuild her life. She has a new name, a young son and everything to live for. But when Stephanie receives a letter from someone she’d hoped would never find her, Connie is forced to question what really happened that night. But some truths are better left alone . . .

Gripping, tense and impossible to put down, Bad Sister will have fans of Sue Fortin, B.A. Paris and Linda Green hooked until the final page.



Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for 15 years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. SAVING SOPHIE was her debut psychological thriller novel, her second, BAD SISTER is out now in ebook.


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