Although I love to read romantic, YA and adventure novels, I am drawn to a good thriller story. On a deeper level, I think many thriller stories can be a journey to the heart of darkness. Thrillers provide readers with a safe escape into a dangerous world where the stakes are as high as can be imagined with unpredictable outcomes. It’s a perfect genre in which to explore hard issues of good and evil, a mirror that allows readers to see both the good and not so good in themselves.
Thriller and Science Fiction writer Laura Tisdall, gives us an intriguing story in her newest novel, Echoes. This page-turner has been described as “one hell of a debut,” and Tisdall is leaves us at the edge of our seats with suspense.
Tisdall grew up in Woking, England, and graduated from the University of Surrey with a degree in music. Before starting Echoes, she worked mainly in theatre and wrote two musicals, The In-Between and Faerytale.
In a recent interview, Tisdall talks about her novel Echoes.
“There is truth to be shared. Let us begin…”
Volatile mathematical genius Mallory Park is living two lives. In one, she is balancing senior year with looking after her little brother and troubled ex-Marine father; in the other, she spends her nights glued to her laptop, breaking into some of the world’s most secure systems as the hacker Echo Six.
As part of a corruption-exposing cyber network called the Forum, Mallory is far more at ease among the codes and hidden identities of her online world than she has ever been in the real one, but when other hackers start to go missing, she finds herself caught up in a web of secrets that could have repercussions far beyond both.
When anyone can be a name on a screen, how do you know who to trust?
When asked how she came up with the story and what was the inspiration behind it, Tisdall had explained that she was always enjoyed ‘spy-fi’ TV shows and wanted to write Echoes with a feel of science fiction and the idea generated from there. She said:
“I was always a big fan of ‘spy-fi’ TV shows like Alias and Fringe, which often coupled hi-tech/future-science aspects with these amazingly moving, character-driven stories. With Echoes, I suppose I wanted to try and write it in that kind of vein; contemporary, but with a slight science fiction feel. Once I started to think about having a teenage hacker as my main character in that context, the main plot points of the story just started to come together surprisingly quickly around it.”
We also asked Tisdall some questions about how she plans her writing. Does she work with an outline, plan or agenda? Or does she just write and see what comes out? She told us:
“Usually, I’m a planner. The current book I’m writing has an entire ring binder full of notes on plot, characters, backgrounds, etc. Echoes didn’t though. The idea for it came slightly out of the blue and, although I’d worked out the basic storyline before I started writing, a lot of it just came together as I attempted to blast my way through a first draft. I’m not sure it’s a method I’d recommend!”
Tisdall also talked about the logistics of writing the story. Not being a coder herself, she went on to tell us that with the combination of her understanding from studying computer science, having a “techy genius” friend and some research, is what allowed her to write Echoes. She said:
“I’m not a coder myself, but I did do computer sciences AS level and I guess I’d say I have a vague (and I stress vague) understanding of what might be possible – even if I couldn’t tell you how to do it. In that regard, I’m very fortunate that one of my good friends is a ‘techy genius’ who can. So with a lot of the technical aspects of the novel, I would discuss with him what I wanted to do conceptually and he would tell me a) if it was possible and b) the various options as to how you might do it in practice.”
When asked if there was a deeper message to Echoes that she wanted to get across, Tisdall told us that there were a few things that she wanted readers to think about, but no real specific message. She said:
“Hmm, tough question! I’m not sure there’s a specific message I was trying to put across. For me, the book just became very much about the main character, Mallory, and trying to tell her story as honestly as I could – especially in regards to her issues with mental illness. I also think the morality of hacking as a kind of ‘greater good whistle-blowing’ device is an interesting one. Although, again, there wasn’t really a specific message I was trying to put across with that. It was maybe more, ‘this is one situation that might arise, and these characters made these decisions’ – what do you think? But trying not to comment too much myself on whether they were the right decisions or not.”
Although it feels as though everything is tied up at the end of the novel, we asked Tisdall if she would ever consider writing a sequel to the story. She explained to us that although she never planned to originally, she has considered doing so in the future. She said:
“I never intended to originally, but I think I’ve come round to the idea that I would like to eventually. When I finished Echoes I found myself still thinking about the characters and where they would go next, and there was an idea that I toyed around with but then gave up on. It’s definitely something I might go back to, though – if I can think of a way to get it to work! So, not yet, but never say never.”
She also offers up some advice for aspiring writers and those hoping to get into the writing industry. She tells her readers not to be discouraged with their first drafts. She said:
“Expect first drafts to be fairly terrible and don’t be discouraged by that. This is what I find anyway – and I know I’m not the only one. Finishing a first draft is just the start of writing a book. A lot of the real work in making it any good, or even just readable, comes in the editing.”