Best-selling author and Parkite finds writing thrillers isn’t a ‘False Step’
Victoria Helen Stone’s new thriller, “False Step,” could have been inspired by actual events.
It’s the story of a woman named Veronica, who stays in an unhappy marriage for her child. One day, her husband Johnny, while on a hike, finds a missing three-year-old boy. And as the news hails the husband as a hero, the media scrutiny starts to uncover a plot that could involve the husband, the boy and a kidnapping.
“False Start,” which was released on July 1, is the Parkite’s third thriller, although she has published 29 best-selling romance novels under the name of Victoria Dahl. Stone began writing thrillers three years ago at the urging of her editor.
“She stopped publishing romances, and asked me to try my hand into something that wasn’t romance so she could work with me again,” Stone said. “While I loved horror, suspense, thrillers, mysteries and nonfiction, I had only written romance. So I kept saying no, because when you read a book, you’re with the genre for a few days. But when you write a book, you have to be in that genre for a few months, and I wasn’t sure I could spend that amount of time in a genre other than romance.”
After months of conversation, Stone agreed to write a thriller.
“I told her I like to write about complicated female characters and put in a lot of darkness and more grittier sex than what would normally be in general fiction, and she told me I could do that with the new book.”
The result was “Evelyn After,” which is about a wife who finds her psychiatrist husband is having an affair.
“One of the reasons I was worried about writing suspense was because I personally love stories about serial killers and FBI agents and the supernatural,” she said. “I thought my stories would be less exciting without involving manhunts, shootouts and magic duels.”
But as Stone wrote “Evelyn After,” she fell in love with the genre.
“I really enjoyed getting to know what is called ‘domestic suspense,’ which is about dangers of personal life, rather than crimes,” she said.
Since then, Stone has written three other thrillers, “Half Past,” “Jane Doe” and “False Step.”
“Jane Doe” has recently been optioned for TV development by Sony Pictures TV and Exhibit A.
Stone took a different approach when writing “False Step.”
While she normally comes up with characters and throw them into circumstances that goes against their beliefs or turns their lives in some way, Stone started “False Step” with the idea about the lost boy, and how the person who found him was thrust into fame.
That approach set up some interesting challenges for Stone.
“I found myself getting to know the characters as I wrote them, as opposed to knowing who they were before I started writing,” she said. “As situations unfolded plotwise, I had to figure out how the people would react under pressure. Their internal feelings and dialogue developed as I wrote on.”
The characters in “False Start,” and in all of Stone’s books, are “complicated,” she said.
“The reason is because all the women in my life who I love are not perfect,” she said. “While they have made some bad decisions, I still want the best for them. And that’s the kind of thing I like to explore in the book.”
Stone took 10 months to write the book, she said.
“I could write romances in three to four months, but for some reason, suspense takes me longer,” she said with a laugh. “There was a lot of pre-planning, plotting and getting my synopsis together, which are all the things that are not my favorite part of writing a book.”
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