I am delighted to welcome author AJ Waines to the blog today …
She has written four standalone psychological thrillers to date, but her fifth, Inside the Whispers, introduces a new lead character, clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby. Dr Sam is set to appear in at least two more psychological thrillers – so, who is she and why will readers want to root for her? I’ll let AJ take it from here …
Who is your new series character?
Name: Dr Samantha Willerby (Sam to her friends, Sammie to her best mate)
Job: Dr Sam is a clinical psychologist in an NHS hospital in London – a trauma specialist for victims who’ve been caught up in shocking incidents. As well as offering ‘talking therapy’, Dr Sam helps patients recover memories of their chilling experiences. Sam’s intrepid nature, her professional curiosity and drive to get to the bottom of things inevitably leads her into situations where she finds herself seriously out of her depth…
Role: In the first book in the series, Inside the Whispers, survivors seek her help in the aftermath of a fire in the London Underground, but it isn’t long before Sam realises their stories don’t add up. Why are they lying? Sam gets caught up in a dark conspiracy that threatens far more than her career.
Why did you create Dr Samantha Willerby?
I love reading psychological thrillers and as a former psychotherapist myself, I know how fascinating and intriguing that world can be! I wanted a character who could show readers an aspect of psychology that’s usually kept behind closed doors, so they could be a fly on the wall and observe what really goes on when someone goes to see a ‘shrink’. Having a lead character with a range of unusual skills gives her a unique edge: Sam is able to read body-language, she can often tell when people are faking it, she listens intently and notices details. I didn’t want to create a traditional detective, so Sam is a different kind of ‘detective’. Writing about a psychologist opens up a huge range of plot possibilities. I love secrets, lies, hidden vices, hidden motives and moral dilemmas. It’s great having the scope to explore all these themes in my novels!
What about Sam’s personal life?
Sam isn’t married, largely because she’s been too focused on her career, but she also has a dreadful history of choosing the wrong men. She lives in a rundown flat in Clapham, always thinking about moving somewhere more upmarket, but never getting around to it. Sam’s own sister has schizophrenia and is the reason Sam trained in psychology in the first place. Miranda is two years older; she’s flighty, erratic and often irresponsible, but Sam adores her. Their history is turbulent due to misunderstandings about Miranda’s diagnosis and she’s wary of Sam, who only wants to help and support her sister, but who is often accused of interfering. Their stormy relationship is an ongoing theme in the books.
How does Dr Sam develop through the novels?
Sam Willerby is keen to learn and has always wants to be an expert, so new areas of training shift her into fresh terrain in terms of her patients. In Inside the Whispers, she focuses on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), whereas in book two, Lost in the Lake (out in September 2017), she’s gained new skills in memory recall. With special techniques, she helps victims to ‘step back’ into traumatic situations and relive them as though they’re actually happening. Unexpected and shocking consequences follow!
What do you like most about her?
She’s really good at her job and is always striving to do her best to help people in distress. People expect her to stay calm and professional in all situations and she can often appear detached, but inside she’s bubbling over with emotions, fraught decisions and quandaries. I feel for her, because she’s vulnerable and scared (just like anyone else), but she feels she has to hide it. She’ll put on a brave face and always go the extra mile for people.
What do you like least about her?
The truth is Sam often feels lost, lonely and struggling to find love and happiness. Because she pretends to be fine, she never asks for help, so at times she can appear arrogant or cold. Only on rare occasions does she allow her polished front to slip. She can also be naïve. In Lost in the Lake, Dr Sam starts seeing patients in her own flat – a decision she sorely regrets and which turns her world upside down.
Does she share any similarities with you?!
Yes! I think most people would think I’m pretty together and organised, but most of the time I don’t feel like that under the surface! Like Sam, I’m keen to learn and push myself and I’m very dedicated and disciplined. Sam is much tougher than me, though. She’s really good in a crisis, but I’m not sure I would be! She digs beneath the surface and ends up unearthing all kinds of horrors and I’m sure I’d have hurried away back to my bolthole long before then!
‘The crisp, pacey writing grabbed me from the first page and wouldn’t let go’ – EM Powell, No 1 Bestselling Author on Inside the Whispers.
Here’s the blurb …
Where the most Dangerous place – is inside your own head…
Following a London Tube disaster, three traumatised survivors turn to clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby, for help – but she’s mystified when their stories don’t add up. Her confusion turns to horror when one by one, instead of recovering, they start committing suicide.
When her partner, Conrad, begins to suffer the same terrifying flashbacks, Sam is desperate to find out what is causing them and a mysterious and chilling crime begins to unravel.
Then the flashbacks begin for Sam…
The first book in the Dr Samantha Willerby Series, INSIDE THE WHISPERS is a tense, haunting Psychological Thriller that will leave your nerves in shreds.
The next book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series, Lost in the Lake, is available for Pre-Order from July 13th 2017. Get updates and inside info by following AJ on her blog, newsletter or on Twitter and Facebook.
AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 & 2016 with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks). She was ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) in 2016.