My latest novel, The Lucky Ones, features a serial killer, the Shropshire Viper, who aims to make his victims happy before he kills them. He wants them to die with a smile on their face.
My main character is a single dad, Ben Hofland, who has returned to his childhood village with his young son following the breakdown of his marriage. At the start of the book, Ben is at his lowest point. He has no job, no wife, his mum has cancer and his son is being bullied at school. On top of that he has noisy neighbours and is running out of money.
Ben doesn’t realise that he has another problem that makes all of that look trivial. He has attracted the attention of the Viper. And the Viper wants Ben to be happy…
This created a challenge for me. In most psychological thrillers, the protagonist suffers increasing misfortune and finds him or herself in growing peril. This happens in all of my other books: in Follow You Home, for example, the central couple are thrown into more and more scary situations. So how do you ramp up tension and fear by making good stuff happen to your hero?
It helps that the reader knows – or at least, guesses – that Ben and his son are in danger. As Ben’s luck appears to change, the reader will hopefully be shouting at Ben to wake up and realise that what seems like luck is actually sinister manipulation.
Also, the killer has a twisted idea of how to help people. Nightmare neighbours, school bullies… The Viper leaves a trail of carnage in his wake as he attempts to make Ben’s life better.
Being able to subvert the psychological thriller made The Lucky Ones great fun to write. I hope it’s as much fun to read.
The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards is published by Thomas & Mercer on 15 June 2017 as an £8.99 paperback original