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Sarah Bonner: On a Rom-Com Becoming a Psychological Thriller

Author Sarah Bonner discusses how she started her debut novel as short story before it became the psychological thriller, Her Perfect Twin.

Sarah Bonner lives in Sussex with her husband and very spoiled rescue dog. She’s worked in finance and project management for the last 15 years, but the pandemic gave her the opportunity to revisit her teenage dream of writing. Her Perfect Twin is her debut novel and she’s brimming with ideas for more twisty psychological thrillers. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Sarah Bonner: On a Rom-Com Becoming a Psychological Thriller

Sarah Bonner

In this post, Sarah discusses how she started her debut novel as short story before it became the psychological thriller, Her Perfect Twin, finding what she feels like is her voice in writing, and more!

Name: Sarah Bonner
Literary agent: Hannah Sheppard at DHH Literary
Book title: Her Perfect Twin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release date: September 27, 2022
Genre/category: Psychological Thriller
Elevator pitch for the book: When Megan discovers her identical twin is trying to steal her husband, the confrontation turns to murder. The only way Megan can get away with killing her twin is to become her: But living a double life isn’t as easy as she thought, especially when someone else knows her secret.

Sarah Bonner: On a Rom-Com Becoming a Psychological Thriller

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What prompted you to write this book?

Her Perfect Twin started life as a short story—a rom-com about a woman trying to decide if she should go on a second date with this guy who thought she was her twin sister. But when I was brainstorming ideas as to why he thought that I kept circling back to the idea she’d killed her sister and was impersonating her in an attempt to get away with it!

Then I started to wonder what she would do during the COVID lockdown … and Her Perfect Twin was born!

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

I wrote Her Perfect Twin in the autumn of 2020 when the U.K. was starting to increase COVID restrictions and it looked like we would end up in lockdown again. It became my sanctuary and—if I’m really honest—a bit of an obsession!

As a result, I wrote it extremely quickly, taking just 14 weeks from idea to a completed manuscript. It was published in the U.K. in January 2022, so about 16 months in total from when I first started writing it.

The first half remained fairly constant through the process, but the second part of the book was born out of a eureka moment when I decided to see what would happen if I switched the narrator for a while. I can’t say any more without giving too much away, but I had to throw the previous plan in the trash and run with the new idea!

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

This is my debut novel, so I feel like the entire process has been one huge learning curve for me! It’s been fascinating to understand more about the industry and what it really takes to turn a word document on my laptop into a physical book on the shelves of stores. The biggest surprise was just how many people are involved; publishing is such a team effort!

Sarah Bonner: On a Rom-Com Becoming a Psychological Thriller

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

All my previous projects have been written in third person past tense (she said) and I’d assumed that was my default preference. But after writing the first few pages of Her Perfect Twin I realized I’d used first person present tense (I say).

It wasn’t conscious, but suddenly I felt the characters and story come to life in a way they never had before. I felt like I’d found my “voice” and I can’t really imagine going back, not for thrillers anyway.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

First and foremost, I want them to be entertained, to be drawn into the story and want to keep turning the pages. I love the way books can allow us to step away from our own lives for a while and I really hope readers will find that escapism in Her Perfect Twin.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

It always sounds so obvious, but my biggest advice is to read!

Read voraciously in your own genre; learn the tropes and the expectations of the reader, learn what works and what doesn’t, learn what you personally love about these types of books.

But read widely outside your genre too; learn what constitutes great prose, great storytelling, great character development. Plus, you never know when something will pique your interest and give you an opportunity to spin it into your own work.

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