Writing across several genres—women’s fiction, romance and domestic thrillers—can be challenging and a question I’m often asked is ‘what is a domestic thriller?’
For me, it’s women’s fiction with a killer twist…or many.
Domestic thrillers are also labelled as domestic suspense, domestic noir and psychological thrillers, when in fact they’re a subgenre of the latter: crime fiction, but with a focus on interpersonal relationships.
So what puts the thrill into domestic fiction?
These secrets—within a family, in a group of friends, between a married couple, with neighbours—drive the story and keep readers turning pages at a rapid rate. They create tension and more twists the better.
Delving deep into what motivates friends and families can deliver the most startling twists. In THE SCANDAL, I took three best friends in the Hamptons, and layered in secrets for each of them that are revealed slowly throughout the book. But that wasn’t enough…the killer twist on the last page is what has many readers gasping in shock and THE SCANDAL named in a Best Fall Books 2020 list.
As a ravenous reader of domestic thrillers, I particularly like the unreliable narrator. Should we believe them? Is all as it seems? What’s riveting for me is the apparent portrayal of domestic bliss, only to discover a simmering underbelly of tension. Page-turning stuff!
Liane Moriarty is an expert at taking a perfectly normal everyday situation and revealing the hidden depths. Many can relate to a school trivia night and the underlying tensions it can cause: Big Little Lies. Busy workaholics need time out desperately at a health spa: Nine Perfect Strangers. She takes the ordinary we can all identify with and adds killer twists. This is what makes her books so compelling, because the ‘domestic’ angle is real and the ‘thrill’ comes from the unexpected.
Sally Hepworth takes a quiet street in a suburb and pits neighbours against each other in The Family Next Door. And the universal jokes about disliking mother-in-laws is turned on its head in The Mother-In-Law, when a mother-in-law is found dead and we’re left wondering who hated this matriarch enough to kill her? Once again, snippets of everyday life, with a twist.
In my domestic thrillers, I love introducing hints of malice to perfectly ordinary lives. In THE LAST WIFE, it’s a family under threat from an unknown attacker. In MY SISTER’S HUSBAND, two sets of sisters, years apart, are bound by sinister scenarios.
And when the big reveals come…the bigger the better, making domestic thrillers entertaining and addictive.
I’m a fan!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
USA Today bestselling & multi-award winning author Nicola Marsh writes feel-good fiction…with a twist! She has published seventy books and sold over eight million copies worldwide.
A physiotherapist for thirteen years, she now adores writing full time, raising her two dashing young heroes, sharing fine food with family and friends, barracking loudly for her beloved North Melbourne Kangaroos footy team, and her favourite, curling up with a good book!
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