Talking Thrillers with Author Sarah Denzil: Silent Child

Sarah Denzil
Author biography: Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. Her books include SILENT CHILD, which has topped the kindle charts in the UK and Australia, as well as being a top ten Amazon bestseller in the US. SAVING APRIL and THE BROKEN ONES are both top thirty bestsellers in the US and UK Amazon charts.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather. She loves to write moody, psychological books about ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

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TFx: Where did you come up with the idea for this book, and what can you tell us about the plot?

Sarah: I’d just finished writing my first two thrillers and wanted to brainstorm the third book, and I had this image in my mind of a teenage boy stumbling out of the woods. Back in my school and university days I studied psychology, and there were a couple of famous cases of ‘feral children’—who had been neglected and abandoned by society—and those cases really stayed with me. Even now, I think about those children. And that’s where the first ideas came from.

Emma Price thought her son had drowned in a flood after finding his red coat floating downstream. But ten years later Aiden returns, now a teenager, only mute. All she knows is that Aiden has been kept somewhere away from sunlight and that someone has hurt him. Now she must find out who—in her tiny, close-knit village—abducted her son.

TFx: How did you choose the setting(s)?

Sarah: I grew up in a small village and it feels like everyone knows each other’s business. There can be a sense of claustrophobia, which is great for a psychological thriller. So I started researching the different rivers in the North of England and came up with my fictional village Bishoptown-On-Ouse. Funnily enough, the river Ouse caused some problems with readers as one thought I’d misspelled house and gave the book a bad review!

TFx: What are you reading now, and what good books have you read lately?

Sarah: Right now, I’m reading Death in her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh. This book is messing with my head a little as I’m so used to books with a thriller/crime premise running at a thriller pace. But this is a literary novel that begins like a psychological thriller. I’m appreciating the prose and the deep dive into character. I like to mix things up. I dip into quite a few genres when I read.

I recently enjoyed The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. I’m a big fan of The Escape Room by her too. I think she’s particularly good at getting the balance of character and plot just right.

TFx: What are you working on now? (if different from above)

Sarah: Right now, I’m working on a co-writing project with a writer friend and editing a thriller set on Christmas day. The co-writing project is about how dating can go horribly wrong, and the Christmas thriller is about three weddings set in an isolated location all going, again, horribly wrong!

TFx: Do you believe you should never judge a book by its cover?

Sarah: I think the cover is there to be judged! If the designer has done his or her job correctly then the cover should tell you exactly what’s inside the book. The cover doesn’t always need to be super inventive or even beautiful, it should give you a flavour of what the book is about, which means the reader should be analysing and judging the cover in order to make their decision on whether to read the book.

TFx: What was the last book you read that had a plot twist you totally didn't see coming?

Sarah: I rarely try to figure out the twist. The only time I do that is when I’ve heard there’s a big twist and I see it as a point of pride to try and figure it out. And as a thriller writer, I should see it coming, right? I don’t! I have suspicions and I know the thriller formulas, but most writers are great at giving you options or throwing in a second twist at the end.

TFx: What was the hardest scene to write in this book?

Sarah: There is a chapter written from Aiden’s perspective that broke my heart.

TFx: Had you always wanted to be a writer?

Sarah: Yes, but I never thought it would be a viable career choice for me. When I was growing up, I saw writers as much more intelligent than I could ever be. I read about literary giants and compared myself to them and assumed it was an impossibility. I never thought I’d be a full-time writer in my thirties!

TFx: How important is research when it comes to your writing?

Sarah: Because my thrillers are psychological and not crime focused, I can concentrate on the behaviours of the characters. And as I already have a psychology degree, that sort of plot comes to me fairly easily. I tend to dip in and out of research when I need it. For instance, when writing one of my more recent books, My Perfect Daughter, I needed to research the adoption process and how trauma affects children at a young age.

TFx: Tell us something fun about you that readers might be surprised to know?

Sarah: I spent a lot of my childhood competing in equestrian events! My experience with horses made its way into The Liar’s Sister too. Though I haven’t ridden a horse for about twenty years now I’d like to try it again at some point.

Get Silent Child by Sarah Denzil, out now on Amazon.

Silent Child

In the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son's red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year - a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned.

His body was never recovered.

Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She's married, pregnant, and in control again...

... until Aiden returns.

Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.

As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?

It's Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell her the unspeakable.

This dark and disturbing psychological novel is a page-turner you will not be able to put down.

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