Shalini Boland was signed by Universal music and trying to make it as a singer/songwriter when she took a decision that changed her life.
After having her first child, she missed being with family, so decided to give up music, and started writing fiction to remain connected to her creative side. This led her to writing books that include 16 psychological thrillers and becoming a two-million best-selling author.
The prolific writer’s latest novel The Silent Bride, published on Thursday (1), is another pacey plot filled with shocking twists, which revolves around a woman realising the man she is about to marry isn’t her fiancé, but a stranger and no one believes her.
Eastern Eye caught up with the gifted author to discuss her journey, new book The Silent Bride, and the secret to writing a great psychological thriller.
Did you imagine your journey as a writer would become so action-packed?
I’ve always been quite ambitious and will give a thousand per cent to everything I do. Even when I’m exhausted, I’ll say yes to good opportunities. So, I think that while I’m always pushing and striving, things will never become boring. I love the idea of chilling out, but then I become antsy and will start eyeing up the next thing. Although there were many long, frustrating years in between, where I was trying and failing to get any traction – not much action going on, just angst.
Was there one moment or book that made you realise how much of a passion writing is for you?
Finishing my first book was the moment I thought, I’ve done it! I can do this! And I want to do it again.
What inspired your new book?
The Silent Bride was inspired by that classic, perfect scene of a bride walking down the aisle and her groom turning to look at her. I then thought it would be intriguing to put a dark spin on that scenario.
Could you tell us a little bit about the story?
Alice Porter is excited to marry the love of her life, Seth. But when she walks down the aisle of their little country church, the groom turns to look at her and she doesn’t recognise him. She’s confused, scared, embarrassed even. Everyone is staring at her. What should she do? Where is Seth? What follows is Alice’s quest to discover what happened to her groom, and who the imposter is.
Tell us more…
The problem is, everyone else believes it to be the real Seth, and thinks the issue is with Alice. She feels alone and insecure. Not only has she lost her husband-to-be, but her friends and family are treating her as though there’s something wrong with her. The novel is a psychological thriller about love, friendships, family, and betrayals, with a few dark and shocking twists along the way.
How as a writer do you put yourself in the shoes of a protagonist experiencing a trauma?
After the book is plotted and I start the writing process, I tend to immerse myself in the story, writing intensively for around a month. As I write in the first person, it’s easy to slip into my character’s mindset. I can quite easily give myself the creeps, or become angry after an argument scene, or upset during an emotional scene. I’ve occasionally had to stop myself from getting cross with my husband for something my protagonist’s husband has done – oops.
What draws you towards the psychological thriller genre in particular?
I love the deception aspect of it. To lead the reader along a certain path and then, at the final moment, reveal a totally new angle that they hopefully missed. It’s fun to make readers gasp in shock.
What according to you is the secret of writing a strong psychological thriller?
For me, it’s all in the plotting. Coming up with a strong outline that includes the main character’s journey, the setting, tension, action, and twists means that I can go on to write a great story knowing I’m not going to run out of ideas or write myself into a corner. Of course, there’s still room for surprise additions, but as long as I’ve tightly plotted the whole novel, then I can write it with confidence.
Do you have a personal favourite moment or section in the new book?
It’s got to be the dramatic opening. But I’m also really happy with the way I ended it. There are a few sharp surprises in there that will hopefully leave the reader feeling satisfied.
How do you feel before one of your books is published?
Absolutely flipping terrified.
Who are you hoping connects with this book?
I’m always desperate to please my existing loyal readers. I know people say you should write for yourself, but having written twenty-six books now, I can’t help but have my readers in mind as I write. Hopefully, new readers will connect with my books just as much.
What inspires you?
My family – corny, but true. If it weren’t for them, I don’t think I would be a writer.
What do you enjoy reading and do you have a favourite book?
Besides devouring thrillers, I also love to read fantasy and historical fiction as they’re a total switch-off from work and everyday life. My favourite book has to be Gerald Durrell’s The Talking Parcel as I must have read it at least 20 times as a child, and then several more times when I read it to my children.
Why should we pick up your new book?
As Clare Mackintosh – one of my author heroes – said on her Instagram reel, she thought the premise of The Silent Bride was so bonkers that she had to read it to see how I was going to pull it off. I feel like that’s a great reason for anyone to pick it up.
The Silent Bride by Shalini Boland published by Thomas & Mercer (£8.99, paperback original) is available now