02 February 2018

Throughout the years writers have always written about love. It’s the universal theme of our lives, the emotion that pretty much all of us will feel at least once and many more times if we’re lucky. But for the thriller writer it is the darker side of love that fascinates: the unrequited, the end of the affair, the shattering of dreams. To delve in to this dark psychology is such fertile ground for a writer interested in the intricate workings of the human mind because, although reading happy love stories can be uplifting, it’s the tragic love we all remember, from Cathy and Heathcliffe to Nick and Amy Dunne. 

The reason these stories resonate so deeply is that most of us have experienced heart-break. Most of us know that gut-wrenching feeling of loving someone who doesn’t love us back and how painful it is to think of them out in the world without us, loving someone else. Most of us also have hated the person we love so much we could hurt them, or seek revenge in any number of nefarious ways. But the thing is, we don’t. We think about trolling their Facebook page or waiting outside their house or banging their head against a wall, but it’s never a serious thought. It tantalises but it doesn’t stick.

Araminta Hall on obsessive love

Who, we ask ourselves, is it who steps over these lines? Who takes heart-break and anger and uses it as a weapon?

Writers of thrillers are however unduly fascinated by those tantalising moments. Who, we ask ourselves, is it who steps over these lines? Who takes heart-break and anger and uses it as a weapon? Who is it who wants to control or frighten? Who is it who won’t accept an ending and demands a resolution the other person doesn’t want? 

And, as readers, we are drawn to these stories because a little part of us wonders, could I be that person? What does it take to become that person? Sometimes things are just too tantalising not to experience and if we can do this vicariously through the characters in a novel, then we can get the thrill without the danger.

As humans we will never stop loving, just as we will never stop hating. For thriller writers and readers it is a heady cocktail when the two things collide, a cocktail which I can’t imagine ever ceasing to be relevant or compelling.

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