The inspiration behind Sophie
By Mark Edwards
Before I was a full-time writer, I worked as a marketing manager for a small publisher in London. It’s where I met my wife, Sara. We worked together for several years, at one point sitting at adjacent banks of desks. We were together 24 hours a day, talking about work when we were at home, chatting about home when we were at work.
After our first child was born, Sara went on maternity leave. When she returned seven months later, she was promoted immediately and became the manager of a small team. Over the coming months, I watched her deal with enormous stress – pressure from above and below, an enormous workload that meant she could never switch off, lots of issues with the people she was managing. As well as that, she felt guilty about the amount of time she was spending apart from our daughter, who was in full-time nursery. And on top of all that, there was always a huge amount of psychodrama in our office. Politics and gossip and power struggles. It was intense, and Sara eventually left to become a much happier freelancer.
When I came up with the idea for The Devil’s Work – a psychological thriller about colleagues from hell, where paranoia is fully justified – I immediately decided I wanted the main character to be a woman. I had written from female points of view before, but the protagonists in my solo books had previously always been male. I was a little nervous. Could I make Sophie, the central character, convincing?
I didn’t realise at first that I was writing about the situation Sara had found herself in a few years before. Or that Sophie was based, in some ways, on my wife. She didn’t recognise herself, though. In fact, when I showed the first draft to Sara she said that Sophie was more like a female version of me! It seemed that I had based Sophie on a hybrid of Sara and myself. But I feel confident that I have created a convincing woman. One early reviewer told me she had to keep reminding herself that I was male – the only instance when that is a compliment.
There are strong echoes of our marriage in the relationship between Sophie and her husband, Guy, too. The way Guy tells Sophie she worries too much and she tells him he doesn’t worry enough. His habit of describing everything as a nightmare and her irritation at that.
But there is one big difference between Sophie and Sara and me. Sophie has a dark secret in her past, something that comes back to wreck her life, and neither Sara nor I do.
At least, I don’t think Sara has a dark secret…
About Mark Edwards
Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers. His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date. This was followed by What You Wish For (2014), Because She Loves Me (2014) and Follow You Home (2015).
He also co-writes with Louise Voss, including a series featuring Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon, starting with From the Cradle (2014) and The Blissfully Dead (2015).
Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.
Find Mark Edwards on his website and on Twitter - @mredwards
The Devil's Work
By Mark Edwards
Published by Thomas & Mercer (13 September 2016)
The Devil’s Work is an exhilarating and chilling grip-lit novel that follows Sophie Greenwood, a young mother who unwittingly accepts a job at the office from hell! Re-entering the workforce after having her first child, Sophie thinks she’s found her dream job in the marketing department of an iconic children’s publisher.
But very quickly Sophie comes to find that someone is out to get her and that the dream job may turn out to be a nightmare. A mouse nailed to her front door… A stranger following her home in the shadows… Unexplainable whispers in the office late at night…
As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must confront dark secrets from the past and race to uncover the truth about her new job… before it kills her. What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor?
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