Sarah A. Denzil is a million copy bestselling author of pyschological suspense novels, whose books include the number one bestseller, Silent Child.
She lives in Yorkshire in the UK and has been writing full-time since 2013.
She talked to me about 10,000-word writing sprints, getting distracted by re-runs of Buffy and her 'unicorn' book which propelled her on the road to success.
Where do you live?
Sheffield, in the UK
How many books have you published?
16 thrillers but also several YA books under my other pen name.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing my first book in 2010/11 and published it in 2012. So over ten years now!
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I have, but for a long time I didn’t consider it to be something I could make a living from. After university I drifted around in admin jobs before realising I needed a creative job.
Do you write full-time?
I do. I’ve been fortunate enough to write full time since 2013.
Who are your favourite authors? Who's inspired you?
I have to mention, Gone Girl, of course, the book that redefined what a psychological thriller could be. Before then, psychological thrillers were usually about serial killers with a law enforcement main character. Gillian Flynn made the family scary.
Recently I’ve loved books by Megan Goldin, Ashley Audrain and Victoria Helen Stone.
What does your writing day look like?
I am not the most consistent writer. Which is ironic because sometimes I meet writers and they’re surprised by my output. There can be days of watching Buffy or New Girl and barely answering an email. Then I have days or weeks of productivity where I write over 2000 words a day every day or edit fifty pages or set up all the ads I want to run for the next month. So it varies quite a bit.
If I really need to push myself, I can. Using sprints, I’ve managed to write up to 10,000 words in a day. But it’s incredibly draining. However, I also love the challenge!
Do you plan your books in advance or discover as you go along?
A bit of both. I’ve only written one book without a plan – Little One – which was during the pandemic and I think I wanted to escape a for a while by figuring things out as I went along.
It was interesting coming up with the twist without an outline. I believe in laying the groundwork for twists so I then went back and added in the clues after I finished.
Where do you write?
I have a really nice office. Yet for some reason I tend to either write on the sofa or the dining room table.
How do you come up with your ideas?
I believe they come from consuming stories in whatever format. TV, books, movies, theatre etc. TV has always played a huge role in my life. It’s a comfort to me, but also a place I get the first bud of an idea. Even reality shows can give you an insight into human behaviour.
Which has been your most successful book to date?
That’s an easy question, because Silent Child has outsold all my other books to date. In fact, I think if you added up the sales of all of my other books combined, Silent Child would still win. I was incredibly lucky to have a bona fide word of mouth bestseller. It’s a unicorn.
If readers are new to your work – which book of yours do you recommend starting with?
I think My Perfect Daughter is the most “me” book. A combination of very dark themes, a little violence, but at its core it’s a book about relationships.
What are you currently working on?
I’m editing a winter thriller. Find Her is different to anything I’ve ever written before. It has a 90s/2000s feel to it in style. Three brides are getting married on the same day—Christmas day—at the same venue. One of them kills a man and disappears before the wedding, but readers won’t know which bride until the end of the book.
Tell us about your latest release.
In My Perfect Daughter, Zoe begins to suspect her daughter, Maddie, inherited more than just her looks from her serial killer father. It’s about the family we choose and how past trauma can affect the present.
Sarah A. Denzil is a million copy bestselling author of psychological suspense novels. Her books include number one bestseller Silent Child, which was a Goodreads Choice semi-finalist in 2017. Her books have been published in several different languages and have appeared on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list.
Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her husband and cat, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather. She loves to write moody, psychological fiction with plenty of twists and turns.
Sarah A. Denzil was talking to AJ Wills, the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers. He was a journalist for more than twenty years and has been writing full-time since March 2021. He's married to fellow thriller writer, AJ McDine.