A narcissistic mother has two teen-aged girls who go missing for three years and then one comes back. The detectives look at the psychology of narcissism to come up with answers. A rape victim is given a drug to forget the whole horrific incident. She works with a psychologist to remember but he wants to control who and what she recalls. Who wrote these two psychological thrillers that you can’t put down?
Wendy Walker spent years as a banker and corporate lawyer and left her career to raise her three children. “After a while I found that I wasn’t satisfied with just the stay-at-home duties. I needed something more, so I decided I’d write a legal thriller.” Wendy was inspired by other lawyers-turned-authors like John Grisham, not knowing how difficult the process would be.
“I found time to write when the kids were napping or after bedtime. I even worked in the back of my minivan outside their preschool.” It took Wendy about five years to complete her first book and then many visits to Kinko’s to copy submissions for agents. “This was before email.” All she got were rejections.
She had a friend who knew a writing professor who took a look at her novel. “He said it was a great story, but it wasn’t novel quality.” Wendy knew she needed some training, so she enlisted the professor to give her a crash course. “I realized that I didn’t know how to set a scene or use dialog properly.” She went back to edit her novel and at eight months pregnant found herself back at Kinko’s copying new manuscripts for agents.
“I got a few bites and one from a semi-retired agent who called me in to Manhattan for a meeting. She insisted I sign then and there.” Wendy took a chance with her and still her legal thriller didn’t sell. But she didn’t give up and continued to find time to write, this time a women’s fiction genre. It did sell and to a major publishing house. But it wasn’t enough to live on.
She was now a single mom and went back to practicing law, this time for families, to support herself and her family. She found time to write in her spare time, completed a novel and found a new agent. But there was no market for this new book. With two years invested in the project, Wendy came close to giving up. But then she had a realization; she was going about this all backwards.
“I decided that I needed to write something that the market wanted. I reached out to my agent almost in tears about what to do. She told me everyone wanted the next Gone Girl. I dug up an outline of a story from years before in some of my old notes. I upped my game and I started a new novel.” Wendy said to herself that if this book didn’t sell that she would take that as a sign from the Universe that it was time to give up writing.
Wendy submitted the first fifty pages to her agent and received an immediate call back, “This is it! You’ve got something, how soon can you finish?” She semi-quit her job as an attorney and finished the novel, All Is Not Forgotten in six weeks. “It was do or die.” Her book ended up at auction and she got an amazing offer. That same week Reese Witherspoon and Warner Brothers even bought an option to make it a movie.
She soon got a deal for her second book. When asked how she’s so adept at understanding the psychology of families as evidenced in her novels, Wendy says her law practice gave her the insider’s view and an incredible education of many family dynamics and psychological disorders. “The narcissism disorder really captivated my attention and I did a great deal of research to understand how a narcissist functions and how they affect and control those around them.”
Using her research on the psychological disorder of narcissism, she wrote Emma in the Night which centers on how a narcissistic mother affects her children. Now Wendy is making a living as a full-time writer but says, “You’re only as good as your last novel.” Her next book is called The Night Before about a woman who disappears after meeting a man from a dating app. “It’s a cat and mouse story that goes from the present to the past to piece the story together.”
Wendy feels that her persistence paid off and jokingly says, “I’m an overnight success. It only took 17 years.”
Give your audience what it wants.