Today I am lucky enough to have a second visit from author Marnie Riches, the lady behind the “Georgina McKenzie” series. Here, Marnie gives us a little insight into what it was like to write book three of the series “The Girl Who Walked In The Shadows”, and if you are yet to discover the world of Georgina McKenzie, I strongly advise that you get a copy of “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die”. Not convinced?! Read this!
What I love about the piece you’re about to read. Just like many of us, Marnie is a parent, a daughter with a busy life, but still book 3 did not just write itself and she tells us how she did it.
How do you start writing your 3rd book?
Because the three books in the George McKenzie series have come out in quick succession, I never really had the luxury of being able to ponder the notion of, “difficult second novel syndrome”. Once my literary agent had found a home for my manuscript, The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die in my publisher, Avon and the contract for my three book deal was signed, suddenly I had to get writing…fast!
With a planned release date of August 2015, I started The Girl Who Broke the Rules in December 2014 and gave myself five months in which to write and research it. With a similar format to The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, flitting back and forth from one character to another, one country to another and from one time period to another, George and Van den Bergen are faced with having to track down a bizarre serial killer who operates throughout Europe. But The Girl Who Broke the Rules is principally a medical thriller, focusing on the unusual evisceration of victims who predominantly work in the sex industry. So, I had bags of research to do into all the technical intricacies of organ removal, as well as highly entertaining, eye-opening research into the world of strip joints and pornography! Luckily, I became so engrossed in my story and the lives of my characters that I found writing it relatively easy. Thankfully, that book received phenomenal reviews, got really high in the Amazon charts and hovered inside the Suspense top 50 for months and months and months. Both The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die (which won a Dead Good Reader Award and which was an Amazon top 100 bestseller) and The Girl Who Broke the Rules feature in many bloggers’ top 10 best book lists of 2015. They were tough acts to follow!
The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows – the third in the series – was originally scheduled for publication in mid-November 2015. Again, I allowed myself only five months in which to write this third novel, so I had to get stuck straight into researching all about trans-national trafficking and the Roma – topics which feature heavily in the story. But wait! I had two major problems on my hands…
The first conundrum was how to make this third book different from the other two. I knew I wanted to write about the hunt for another serial killer, but I didn’t want to become a writer with formulaic, samey stories in a series that grew quickly tired. So I made sure I came up with a killer whose modus operandi and motivations were really unusual. In The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows, we meet Jack Frost – a brutal murderer with a conscience, who cunningly turns the Arctic sub-zero temperatures to his advantage, using icicles and snow as his weapons of choice, leaving not a single trace of forensic evidence behind. And I wanted to intertwine the main narrative with details of a cold missing persons’ case, where Van den Bergen had tried everything to track down two toddlers who had been abducted from their back garden months earlier. George and Van den Bergen are not the sole focus in this third book, either. We see plenty of the parents of the missing children – Piet and Gabi Deenen. We also see Van den Bergen’s IT expert, Marie really come into her own in this story.
The second conundrum was that my mother was terminally ill with lung cancer during the time in which I was writing this third book. I was having to juggle writing with looking after my children and also caring for her. Consequently, the story started to focus quite heavily on George’s relationship with her mother and the nature of her mother’s mortality. Coupled with the story of two bereft parents, pining for their missing son and daughter, The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows really did become a crime thriller that explored the nature of fraught parent/child relationships, reflecting the anguish that I was suffering in my private life at the time of writing it.
In short, I found writing the third book technically easier than the first, because the more you write, the better you can write. But in terms of subject matter, I had set a precedent in books 1 and 2 of having innovative, fast-paced stories that tackled sexuality, racial politics and the effects of trafficking, meaning I would have to ensure this third book was thematically in keeping without becoming stale. Principally, I knew this third book would have to be better, more surprising and more mature than what has come before, given the maturing cast of characters. It remains to be seen if readers agree that I’ve succeeded…If you think your heart is up to what has been described as a “breath-taking rollercoaster ride”, why don’t you have a read of The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows and see what you think?
Thank you Marnie!
You can contact Marnie on Twitter @