The Allure of Psychology, a Guest Post by Sam Carrington, Author of Saving Sophie

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Although I love many genres, one of my favourites is a psychological thriller and I couldn’t be more delighted than to be featuring Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington today. Already available in e-book, Saving Sophie is published by Avon Books in paperback and audio today, 15th December 2016, and is available for purchase here.

In celebration of today’s paperback release, Sam has kindly written a guest post for Linda’s Book Bag all about the allure of psychology in her life and writing.

Saving Sophie

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A teenage girl is missing. Is your daughter involved, or is she next?

Your daughter is in danger. But can you trust her?

When Karen Finch’s seventeen-year-old daughter Sophie arrives home after a night out, drunk and accompanied by police officers, no one is smiling the morning after. But Sophie remembers nothing about how she got into such a state.

Twelve hours later, Sophie’s friend Amy has still not returned home. Then the body of a young woman is found.

Karen is sure that Sophie knows more than she is letting on. But Karen has her own demons to fight. She struggles to go beyond her own door without a panic attack.

As she becomes convinced that Sophie is not only involved but also in danger, Karen must confront her own anxieties to stop whoever killed one young girl moving on to another – Sophie.

A taut psychological thriller, perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and I Let You Go.

The Allure Of Psychology In My Life, My Characters And My Writing

A Guest post by Sam Carrington

Since taking psychology as a subject at college, I’ve been fascinated by the human mind – the ‘how and why’ we do certain things and act in particular ways. I can’t remember quite when I became interested in the criminal mind – I like to blame it on reading Patricia Cornwell books, but I think to be fair, it must have been before that. I always loved the police shows on TV – Juliet Bravo, Bergerac, Cagney and Lacey etc, so I think by the time I was reading crime books, the obsession was already blooming!

After I’d been nursing for some years, I began an Open University psychology degree. I became hooked and ended up studying with the OU for eleven years – undertaking a course each year. This is despite hating exams! I have a strong interest in criminology and together with my psychological background I decided a job in the prison service would be right for me. Working with offenders within the offending behaviour programmes department was extremely interesting and challenging and my experiences there influenced my writing.

Having worked with offenders – knowing their crimes and listening to them talk about how and why they committed them – I think it was inevitable that I chose to write stories with a crime element. But despite hearing details about a lot of violent offences, that isn’t something I wanted to focus on in my writing. Although the opening of Saving Sophie is a murder, I didn’t want the shock value of describing it in graphic detail. I think it can be scary enough hinting at it, and leaving some things to the reader’s imagination. It’s more the psychological aspect of how crime affects people that I want to explore in my novels.

I hope that the reader gets involved in the lives of Karen and Sophie and can feel some of what they’re going through. From a psychological perspective it can be more chilling and sometimes terrifying not knowing exactly what you’re up against – or who the person who means you harm is. Creating tension and fears that you don’t feel in control of can be very powerful and I hope those reading Saving Sophie feel compelled to keep turning the pages.

I continue the psychological side of crime in my next novel, exploring how two fatal events that occurred in the past still affect those people in the present.

My Review of Saving Sophie

When a seemingly inebriated Sophie is delivered home by the police, so begins a tangled web of lies, half-truths and deceit that will impact on all around her.

I have to be completely honest and admit that I found I needed to employ a willing suspension of disbelief with elements of Saving Sophie as some of the ways in which the characters behaved seemed highly unlikely to me so that the plot was a little shaky at times.

However, this may well be because Sam Carington obviously has a better understanding of the psychology of the human psyche than I do, having studied it and worked  with offenders. And despite some flaws, I still enjoyed the read very much. At the beginning the structure is a little fragmented but becomes more fluent as the story progresses, which I found a brilliantly clever way of reflecting what is happening to Sophie’s memory and its gradual recovery. Even though I thought parts of the plot felt slightly unlikely, I still was gripped and wanted to know what the outcome would be. I felt the story would make an absolutely cracking television series and often found myself thinking ‘Oooh!’.

The three perspectives of Sophie, Karen and DI Wade gave added depth so that it made me consider just how many people really are affected when a crime, or the perception of a crime, has been committed. It was as if a pebble had been dropped into a pool and the ripples of effect spread far and wide. I didn’t feel a deep emotional connection to any of the characters, although I found Karen’s agoraphobia elicited my sympathy and made me wonder what it might be like to be similarly afflicted and I’d really like to find out more about DI Wade in future books as I think she has real potential for development.

Alongside the twisty plot there were some weighty themes explored extremely well that made me think – the consideration of collective memory, grief and guilt, the idea of trust and deception, the exploration of family relationships and what constitutes adultery were all concepts woven into Saving Sophie which made for an interesting read.

Saving Sophie is a twisty, thought-provoking thriller and shows that Sam Carrington will certainly be an author to watch.

About Sam Carrington

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Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she worked for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. Before beginning her first novel, Sam wrote a number of short stories, several of which were published in popular women’s magazines. Other short stories were included in two charity anthologies.

Sam moved quickly on to novel writing and completed her first project within six months. Although this novel attracted attention from agents, it was her next that opened up opportunities. She entered this novel, with the working title Portrayal, into the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award in 2015 and was delighted when it was longlisted.

Being placed in such a prestigious competition was instrumental in her success securing a literary agent. When completed, this novel became Saving Sophie, a psychological thriller which was published by Maze, HarperCollins as an ebook in August. The paperback and audio editions are publishing on 15th December.

You can follow Sam on Twitter and find her on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers and #SavingSophie too:

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