I would never use real people in my fiction — Teresa Driscoll

“Not every hour is equal. Ask an insomniac how long the night is.” – Teresa Driscoll, The Friend

Teresa Driscoll is an international bestselling author of psychological suspense and women’s fiction. She has written 4 books and her books have been translated in 20 languages. She was formally a journalist and TV presenter. The Friend, a psychological thriller, is her latest release.

On Being A Keen Observer

Recently, we came across a French word ‘Flâneur’, which means —- ‘Someone who strolls around, aimlessly but enjoyably, observing life and surroundings’.  Observing people and surroundings plays an important role in a writers life. So, is Teresa a ‘Flâneur’ — a keen observer of people for your stories?

‘What a marvellous word!’ is her first response. She says further, ‘I’m not sure about strolling around ‘aimlessly’, but I am certainly someone who is absolutely fascinated by people. All kinds of people – all of the time. So yes; people watching – especially throughout my decades as a newspaper and television journalist – is definitely something that feeds into my writing.’

On Developing Characters

The characters of ‘The Friend’ seem quite relatable. Are they inspired by real life people or just result of her imagination? Does she know anyone like Emma, a prominent character of her latest book, The Friend?

‘No, I would never use real people in my fiction.’ She replies. ‘But I do draw from my experience as a reporter, what I have learned about human nature, covering all sorts of stories, involving many different kinds of people when I come up with my ideas.’ She believes it makes her characters utterly convincing.

‘This may sound a little bit bonkers but it never feels as if I actually create my fictional characters myself. Once I have an idea and a theme, I just wait. It then feels as if the characters make themselves known to me and it becomes my job to tell their story. It’s as if they sit at my shoulder, whispering to me as I write,’ she says.

Sounds interesting. She says her characters feel 100% like real people to her when she is telling their stories. ‘I guess if I don’t believe in them utterly, how can I expect my readers to believe in them?’ she says.

On Writing Psychological Thrillers

Ms. Driscoll’s last two books are thrillers, different from her first two books that are women fiction. What are the challenges of writing a psychological thriller as compared to women’s fiction?

It’s not that difficult for Teresa because as a reporter, she has covered many different kinds of stories. ‘I might be writing a warm and uplifting feature one day and a terrible crime story another. So it didn’t feel strange to me to want to write different kinds of stories when I moved on to fiction,’ she says.

‘Across my women’s fiction and my psychological thrillers, I tend to be examining bad things happening to good people. In the women’s fiction, that tends to be natural disaster or accident or domestic upset. But in my thrillers there is a darker, criminal force at play. But they are all examining how ordinary people deal with extraordinary events.’ She explains clearly.

On Drawing Deep Emotions

If you read Teresa Driscoll’s stories, be it women’s fiction or psychological thriller, you will find that they deal with strong emotions. So, how does she handle the emotional aspect of her stories? As a writer, does she believe in channelizing her personal feelings?

‘As a journalist, I was always astonished and in awe of the courage of people facing adversity. The power of the human spirit. So I take that into my fiction and my characters often face very difficult times. The strong emotional content comes from that,’ she says. ‘As I have said that my characters feel real to me as I write, I feel very closely connected to what they are going through. But I definitely feel that I am writing their emotional journey, not mine.’ Teresa makes it clear.

What Next?

We, as a reader, always wait for popular or our favourite author’s next book. Ms. Teresa Driscoll has written Psychological Thriller and Women’s Fiction. What next? Would she repeat the genre or would she try something different?

‘My next book is called ‘The Promise’ and is another psychological thriller. It tells the story of three women, who in their childhood shared a dark and terrible secret. I’m incredibly proud of the book and can’t wait to share it with readers. I’ve also just started my fourth thriller; for now I am very happy writing in this genre but I never say never.’ She informs.

Sounds intriguing, isn’t it? For Teresa, it’s all about the characters. A character driven, powerful story!

Pearls Of Wisdom

Teresa is an experienced and successful writer with four bestselling titles. Also, she has an experience in journalism. How can we end this conversation without her precious advice? So, dear new/aspiring writers, pay attention.

It took her ten years to get her first book deal.  ‘I understands the value of  perseverance, which we need while dealing with rejection,’ she says.

Further, she sahres some really invaluable suggestions.

‘Write what YOU feel passionately about and write in forward gear. Don’t edit as you go along. Get the story down while you feel its energy. Save the editing for later.’

Talking about rejection, she says, ‘Don’t be put off by rejection. It’s like a road block. It’s not telling you to give up; it’s telling you to find a different route.’

She suggests to read and write every day. ‘Journalism taught me the discipline of this. The writer muscle is like any other – it gets stronger with exercise. Sure – some days you will write better than others but you can always write something,’ she says.

Plus, here are some striking, thoughtful tips. ‘Before you start a story, think carefully about who is telling it. Pick your Point Of Views with care as it’s hard to fix a POV mistake later. Remember that in every good story, we will see a key character CHANGE in some significant way. Internally or externally or both. That’s what makes a reader feel that they are taking something away from the story,’ she says.

Author(s): Teresa Driscoll
Publisher: Westland Books
Release: August 2018
Genre: Fiction/Thriller
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Tarang Sinha is a freelance writer & author of 'We Will Meet Again'. Her works have been published in magazines like Good Housekeeping India, Child India, New Woman, Woman's Era, Alive, and a best-selling anthology @ Uff Ye Emotions 2.

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