She’s Mine by A.A. Chaudhuri
Published August 2021 by Hera
Thrillers & Mystery
Her missing daughter was just the start of the nightmare
Twenty years ago, Christine Donovan took a call she should have ignored while shopping. In those few seconds while her back was turned, her toddler, Heidi, was kidnapped. She’s never been seen again.
Despite having two other children with husband Greg, Christine remains guilt-stricken that her neglect caused her child to be stolen, while haunted by a secret that consumes her.
Just as she takes measures to finally heal, a note is posted through her door, with the words she has always longed to hear: Heidi isn’t dead.
Christine might finally get the answers she craves – but what she doesn’t know is that finding her daughter will uncover dark secrets close to home.
In seeking the truth, Christine might destroy everything that she loves … so how far is she willing to go to find Heidi?
With a truly jaw-dropping end twist, She’s Mine is a dark, scandalous, and gripping read from a major new talent in psychological thriller writing. For fans of Harriet Tyce, C.L. Taylor and Apple Tree Yard.
I am delighted to share with you a fantastic piece by A.A. Chaudhuri about She’s Mine today as part of the tour!
The Inspiration and Thought Process Behind She’s Mine
I began writing She’s Mine in April 2017 and a short (not!!) four years later, it’s being published this month in both e-book and paperback by a fantastic publisher I have long admired, while the audio version is also in the pipeline. As any writer whose book is finally out in the world being read will testify, I can’t begin to describe how much this means to me, having poured my heart and soul into the novel, and after all the hours, months, and years of hard work, re-writes, editing and constant refinement to make it as perfect, compelling and error free as possible. Not to mention the inevitable rejections and knock-backs along the way! You start out with this acorn of an idea, one you hope has the potential to grow into a full-length tree of a novel, that all the branches of the book will evolve into interesting sub-plots, compelling characters, unexpected twists and turns, before coming together seamlessly in a satisfying conclusion that makes sense and, if you’re lucky, has readers surprised and open-mouthed (in a good way!), but you can never be certain this will happen. All you can do is work hard, write with your heart, do the very best you can and see where it takes you. Plus, hope and pray that someone somewhere gets it and feels as passionately about it as you do. In this respect, I feel incredibly lucky to have such a dynamic and successful publishing house as Hera Books behind my book, along with this fabulous blog tour featuring a myriad of brilliant and dedicated bloggers, making all the hard work and sacrifice worthwhile.
My previous books, the Kramer & Carver series, were amateur sleuth/police procedurals, but I always knew I wanted to write psychological thrillers. For one, I love this genre – it excites, intrigues and sucks me in more than any other category of fiction – and two, I find the psychology of the human mind a fascinating subject, and one that’s all the more absorbing when an author delves into its darker side and explores how even the most upstanding and law-abiding of individuals, often in the most mundane of circumstances – everyday circumstances any one of us could find ourselves in – can be driven to act and behave in the most unspeakable, terrifying ways, causing both themselves and others unimaginable pain.
Consequently, this in-depth analysis of the human psyche can often result in a far more chilling read than a graphic depiction of a murder simply because we, as fallible human beings, are all susceptible to falling prey to more the destructive emotions of human nature, to experiencing inner turmoil and regret, and can therefore relate to such feelings when expressed through characters in a book. None of us are immune to treading a dark path, to being swayed by the more unsavoury facets of human nature: lust, greed, jealousy, regret, revenge, to name but a few; emotions that can often result in tragic outcomes. It’s whether we choose to go down this path and, even if we do, how far we let ourselves be taken down it before things get horribly out of hand, which makes the difference.
This is what makes the psychological thriller so compelling for me, as it does for so many readers of the genre and is largely what inspired my first foray into writing one of my own.
Psychological thrillers are therefore, for the most part, concerned with what makes people tick, the reasoning and motivations behind their actions, rather than the actions themselves, whether that might be a person’s childhood, their past or present relationships, previous traumatic events and so on, circumstances and backstories which can dictate their attitude towards others in the present.
I employed this psychological analysis to some extent with my previous books, but with She’s Mine I couldn’t wait to take it to another level, really getting inside the minds of my characters and deliberately choosing to write in the first-person narrative and from multiple perspectives in order to do this hopefully more effectively. Christine, for example, no matter how well she knows her husband, Greg, could never know exactly what he’s thinking. She can’t feel his pain, his dilemmas to the degree only he can describe to a reader, and the same is true is reverse. By writing in the first person and from multiple perspectives this gives the reader a deeper insight into each character’s mind and motivations, and, in this way, readers are presented with a kind of omnipotent view of the whole storyline. Party to facts other characters in the story are not alive to because, for example, they are being deliberately secretive, manipulative or deceitful towards each other.
She’s Mine centres on Christine Donovan’s grief for her missing child; a grief made more acute by the fact that she blames herself for losing her daughter, tormented by her guilt for her neglect but also a shameful secret she feels contributed to her child’s disappearance. Once the basic idea came to me, I very quickly became immersed in Christine’s story which, granted, wasn’t an easy one to tell. Being a mother of two young boys, it was extremely difficult to write at various points, this being my worst nightmare, but at the same time, I hope this helped me to convey the sheer horror and incomparable pain of Christine’s, as well as her husband Greg’s, loss. Putting myself in Christine’s shoes, I could feel her excruciating pain and grief, her daily inner torment, a pain and torment that consumes her from head to toe, as it would do me, and so, having done this, having really got inside her head, I put her pain down on paper through the first-person narrative. But the story is by no means solely about Christine’s pain. It’s about the pain and knock-on effect Heidi’s disappearance has caused other members of Christine’s family, albeit, in different ways. None of them are bad people as such, they are victims of circumstance, as well as human frailty. And this is what has made them act and view things in a skewered self-destructive way.
As I said, the loss of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. But bizarrely, because it’s such a horrifying concept, this is also what makes it so compelling. Of course, there is much more to this novel than the loss of a child; there are various sub-plots, twists and turns running through the book and yet which still revolve around this central focus, and so the process of shaping these other threads of the novel in large part helped me to overcome the stress of writing the straightforward ‘loss of a child’ aspect of the story.
It was always my intention to make this novel as dark, sinister and twisty as possible because I think such an atmosphere sits well with fans of the psychological thriller genre; they want to feel on edge, they want to be surprised, and they don’t want too much of the mundane; they want to be shocked. Again, I think writing from multiple perspectives helps generate such an atmosphere. As well as writing in the present, generating a feeling of immediacy and almost claustrophobia. I very much enjoyed creating each of the characters, with their own distinct idiosyncrasies (and despite their shortcomings which I hope only added to their intrigue) as well as getting inside their minds and skins, bearing in mind their gender and age differences, in order to try and see things from their unique perspectives – the how and the why, the backstories/life events that made them the people they are today, and which motivated them to act and think in the way they did. They may not be the most likeable of characters, but is it essential to have likeable characters in the psychological thriller genre? Yes, in a police procedural you want to be able to empathise with the lead detective protagonist. The same is true with an amateur sleuth protagonist or straightforward action thriller hero. But in a genre which seeks to induce high levels of suspense, uncertainty, anxiety, and spine-tingling tension is this really a necessary requirement? For me, it’s about making the characters as absorbing, diverse, and compelling as possible in order to fulfil these requirements. That’s not to say they can’t be likeable. It’s whatever suits the story you are writing and the atmosphere you are intending to create.
She’s Mine is about human frailty, about humankind’s need to be loved, wanted and valued, especially by those we seek and crave such sentiments from. And how, when these are lacking, or taken to extremes, things can often go very wrong and lead the most normal of people in the most normal of situations to behave in the most extreme and abnormal of ways.
I don’t know about you but I WANT TO READ the book now! And guess what, you can grab your copy!
Thanks so much to the wonderful Danielle for having me on the tour!
A. A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer. After gaining a degree in History at University College London, she later trained as a solicitor and worked for several major London law firms before leaving law to pursue her passion for writing. She is the author of The Scribe and The Abduction, books 1 and 2 of her Kramer & Carver legal thriller series featuring the feisty Maddy Kramer, also published in audio. Her first psychological thriller with Hera Books, She’s Mine, will be published in 18th August 2021. Represented by Annette Crossland of A for Authors Literary Agency, she lives in Surrey with her family, and loves films, all things Italian and a good margarita!
#1 Amazon Australia Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Canada Women Sleuth Mysteries; (Aug ’19) top 10 Amazon UK Legal crime thrillers (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Australia Legal Thrillers (November ’19)
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