Wednesday, 8 January 2020

The Truth Waits - Guest Post Susanna Beard

Continuing my 'Psychological Thriller Author' series, I'm delighted to welcome Susanna Beard to my blog, Wendy's Writing Now. Susanna has had two thrillers published by Legend Press, Dare to Remember and The Truth Waits. I couldn't wait to ask her some questions... here are her answers.

You’ve written two psychological thrillers. Have you always written in this genre?

Yes! These are my first two books, ever. With Dare to Remember, my debut, I had no idea what genre I was writing in — I was just writing the story that came to me. But when I wrote The Truth Waits I set out to write a psychological thriller, as they were very much front-of-mind for editors at the time, and I knew I would enjoy the process. My next two books are more in the suspense category, though I suppose it depends how you define a genre!

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when the idea for your latest novel came to you?

Yes — the one I’m currently writing came from a charity lunch: not something I do very often! The speaker was from a charity that focuses on modern slavery; she spoke passionately about the horrors that some people are forced to endure. It occurred to me that modern slavery is often a hidden crime and hard to identify, and that it would make a very good story. I would also like to raise awareness of the issue, which can only be a good thing.

Your second novel, The Truth Waits, is partly set in Lithuania. How important is setting in
helping to build suspense?

In The Truth Waits, setting is really important. The story starts with a body on a beach, and I felt the beach itself needed to be remote, quiet and threatening rather than sunny, beautiful, and full of tourists. My first idea was Sicily, but I soon realised that wasn’t going to work – it has too many associations with beach holidays and beautiful scenery. Also, British people tend not to know much about Lithuania, which added to the sense of mystery.

I visited the beach I used in the book – it’s on the Kuronian Spit on the Baltic Sea. It was just perfect: totally unspoilt, long empty sands, lowering skies, a strong wind, and a dark forest flanking the beach. I also set the beginning of the book in March, when the weather there is cold and miserable, which added to the atmosphere.

Using setting as a strong metaphor in this book has convinced me of the importance of place and time in drawing the reader into a story.

What three words would best describe your latest novel?

The Truth Waits is my most recently published novel. It’s dark, suspenseful and gripping!

In a psychological thriller, how important is it to have ‘likeable’ characters?

Good question! I don’t know about likeable, but I think there needs to be a main character that readers care about. She/he can be flawed, annoying, frustrating — but she must also have a background or other characteristics that make her compelling. I think there needs to be an element of surprise with the characters in a psychological thriller: something unexpected that emerges as the story unfolds.

Are you a plotter or a pantster and how long does it take you to write your thrillers?

Here’s the thing. I’m by nature a pantster, but it hasn’t taken many books for me to realise that that’s not a good thing — for me. My first novel took about two years, start to finish, while The Truth Waits took almost three. The reason it took longer was because I got to the half-way point and realised I didn’t know what the ending was going to be! It took a lot of teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling, and at least three different endings, before I settled on the right one.

So nowadays I’m planning. I find it quite difficult, but for me, the ending must be clear before I can write the story. And you can always change your plan, or refine it as you go along; if a new, brilliant idea comes to you as you’re writing, so much the better!

Also, I know that having a properly worked-out plan in place will help me concentrate on the writing rather than angsting about the plot. A much more satisfying process!

Could you describe your typical writing day?

I’ve been a PR consultant for many years and still have some PR work, so I tend to get that done first in the day – after the dog walk, of course! I check social media and marketing first thing as well, and deal with any deadlines that are coming up. Then I get down to the writing or editing work.

I almost always work through lunchtime (I might have a snack at my desk) and when I can, I take a break to go swimming. The walking and swimming help me think about my plot and my characters, particularly if I’m a bit stuck.

When I’m writing a first draft, I try to write 1-2,000 words a day – the job gets done remarkably quickly that way (as long as I have a plan!). Editing takes a long time, and much thinking goes into it. Towards the end of the afternoon I walk the dogs again, and then read for a couple of hours, which feels like a treat, especially if I’ve had a satisfying day writing.

I’m sure my readers would love to hear a little about your road to publication. Was it straightforward?

I started late in life, though it was always part of the plan (!). My career in PR meant that I was writing almost every day, so I suppose the ‘writing switch’ was already on when I decided to take the plunge and write a novel. I was already working from home, too, which helped. I took the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, which was the best thing I’ve ever done. I got a number of rejections, as most authors do, and for a while I wondered if it was going to happen, but to my surprise my first novel got me an agent and a publisher!

What aspects of writing psychological thrillers do you find easiest and hardest?

The easiest bit, for me, is the first draft. It’s fun, and exciting, and as long as I know where I’m taking it, I like the intellectual challenge. It’s like filling in the gaps in a jigsaw.

Have you ever considered giving up writing?

I feel like I’ve only just started, so no. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and in some ways I wish I’d started earlier. I’d like to keep writing for as long as possible!

What next for Susanna Beard?

My third novel is with my agent now; my fourth is undergoing an overhaul and my fifth is well under way! It feels great to have a body of work under my belt, and I’m hoping and intending that each one is better than the last – that way I’ll definitely have a best-seller one day. Fingers crossed!

You can buy both of Susanna's novels here

Susanna is fascinated by human relationships. She can be found people-watching wherever she goes, finding material for her writing. Despite the writer’s life, she has an adventurous streak and has swum with whale sharks in Australia, fallen down a crevasse in the French Alps and walked through the sewers of Brighton - not in that order.

Her passions include animals — particularly her dogs — walking in the countryside and tennis, which clears her brain of pretty much everything.

Susanna’s debut novel, Dare to Remember, was published in February 2017, and her second, The Truth Waits, launched on 1 November 2018. Both are published by Legend Press. She aims to keep writing, and never to get old.

Visit Susanna at, email her on,

Like her page on Facebook: @susannabeardauthor
or follow her on Twitter:


  1. I'm a fan of Susanna's writing and have just finished listening to the audio version of The Truth Waits, which was brilliantly narrated and definitely gripping! Looking forward to the next one x

    1. Thank you, Karen. Susanna’s thriller is top of my pile!