Guest Post: Writing What You Fear by C.L. Taylor

CL Taylor

I am happy to welcome author C.L. Taylor to Book’d Out today.

CL Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle then moved to London to work in medical publishing. After two years she moved to Brighton where she worked as a graphic designer, web developer and instructional designer over the course of 13 years. She currently works as a Distance Learning Design and Development manager for a London university.

Cally started writing fiction in 2005 and her short stories have won several awards and been published by a variety of literary and women’s magazines. Her psychological thriller The Accident debuts this month in the UK, published  by Avon HarperCollins, and will be released by Sourcebooks in the US in June 2014 (with the title ‘Before I Wake’).

The AccidentTo the outside world Susan Jackson has it all – a loving family, a successful politician husband and a beautiful home – but when Charlotte, her fifteen year old daughter,  deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma Sue questions whether any of it was real.

Desperate to find out what caused Charlotte’s suicide attempt, she is horrified by an entry in her diary – ‘Keeping this secret is killing me’.  As Sue spins in desperate circles, she risks everything to discover the truth and finds herself immersed in a shady world she didn’t know existed. The deeper she delves the darker the world becomes and the more danger she puts herself in.

Can Sue wake up from the nightmares that haunt her and save her daughter, or will ‘the secret’ destroy them both?

Writing What You Fear by C.L. Taylor

They say that authors should write what they know but I think that psychological thrillers should write what they fear. When I came up with the idea for ‘The Accident’ I tapped into three of my very darkest fears:
•    Going mad
•    Being stalked by an ex-boyfriend
•    Something terrible happening to my child

Going mad
It might seem strange that someone with a psychology degree would fear going mad but that’s exactly how I felt when, aged 21, I started having panic attacks. I don’t know for sure what sparked them – possibly it was because I stressed about my final year exams at University or maybe there was a deeper underlying reason – but they became so bad that I’d have to leave cinemas because I’d feel like I couldn’t breathe, or I’d lie awake at night counting my breaths – certain that if I stopped something terrible would happen.
Nearly sixteen years later, and long after I’d stopped having panic attacks I began to fear going mad again. I’d just had my first child and I was so severely sleep deprived that I started hallucinating when I’d take my son for a walk in his pram. I clearly the remember the day I saw the pavement tip and shift and I had to cling onto the pram handle for fear I was about to be tipped into the busy road and into the path of oncoming traffic.
When I began writing ‘The Accident’ during my maternity leave I poured my fear of going mad into the main character, Susan who is still suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, twenty years after she left her abusive ex-boyfriend.

Being stalked by an ex-boyfriend
Unlike Susan I was never physically or sexually abused by an ex-boyfriend but I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for four years in my early thirties. I didn’t realise I was in that kind of relationship for a long time – you never do – and when I finally left him he started stalking me online and in real life. I was bombarded with emails, text messages and phone calls. He’d turn up at my flat at random times in the day and stand at the door in the pouring rain, his finger pressed to the buzzer while I’d sit on the sofa, too scared to move in case he saw me. The stalking became so bad I had to move out and live with my sister and I had to ask my dad to ring him and threaten to report him to the police. Fortunately the stalking stopped but the fear that you ex might suddenly show up in your life again never really leaves you. I poured that fear into Susan.

Something terrible happening to my child
When I gave birth to my son back in 2011 I had the same fears as any other mother – SIDS, choking, falls, illness – but there was a tiny part of me that worried what my ex-boyfriend would do if he ever met my child. I knew, rationally, that nothing would happen – that he lived in a city many miles away, he hadn’t been in touch for years and he wasn’t physically abusive, but that didn’t stop my sleep deprived mind from worrying. I poured those worries into the character of Susan. When her teenaged daughter steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma Susan goes through Charlotte’s diary and discovers an entry that says ‘keeping this secret is killing me’. Susan hasn’t seen her ex-boyfriend James for twenty years but when strange parcels start appearing at her house she becomes convinced that he’s somehow to blame. But Susan has had ‘episodes’ like this before, where she’d imagined James was after her, but it was all in her head. That’s what her doctor and husband told her anyway. Is James responsible for Charlotte’s ‘accident’ or is someone closer to home to blame?

You can read my review of The Accident by clicking HERE

The Accident is available to purchase from

HarperCollinsUK I AmazonUK I TheBookDepository

 Before I Wake

Sourcebooks I AmazonUS

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Review: The Accident by C.L. Taylor | book'd out
  2. cleopatralovesbooks
    Apr 21, 2014 @ 15:34:33

    What a great post. Being able to see where this story was born adds a layer of insight into the mother’s actions.

    Reply

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