Opening lines are hard.
When the lovely folks here at Authors’ Lounge invited me to write a piece about my new book, I was both honoured and delighted, and yet a week later, I was still sitting here staring at a blank screen. I guess that’s why it’s taken me ten years to publish a book – I’m a complete and utter perfectionist, apparently unable to start writing until I’ve found the perfect, attention-grabbing opening line.
I can’t remember exactly how I started writing Let Me Sleep, but I know why. I’ve spent years annoying everyone I watch a film with by always guessing the ending. I wanted to write something that bucked the norms of genre, to keep the reader guessing until the very end. I wanted to know if I could plot something as intricate as the serialised Victorian detective fiction novels that I adore.
The novel started as something very different, a dark fantasy inspired by a dream I had many years ago of an empty, grey, terrifying, and unescapable… shopping centre. Over the years, it morphed into a psychological thriller, following the path of two brothers who are forced by a global war to seek refuge in an underground community. The youngest brother (and protagonist), Nico, has suffered serious trauma and cannot remember his past, save for the screams of a terrified woman. On learning that his forgotten memories hold the key to the survival of the community, Nico submits to an unconventional drug treatment. But the descent into his mind reveals a dark and troubled past, bringing back forgotten lovers, enemies, and tragedy. Soon, Nico comes to realise that he cannot trust anyone, possibly not even himself. A fragmented, disorienting story told via memories, dreams, and present-day life, Let Me Sleep explores patriarchy, the power of memory, and how human nature can change when survival is threatened.
I hope that my readers will look at Let Me Sleep as a challenge, a puzzle to be solved; maybe it will also create some dream enthusiasts (whom I can geek out with) and help others appreciate how clever and fascinating the human mind is. There is a sequel in the pipeline (more of a ‘whodunnit?’ this time), but after ten years with these characters, I’ve decided to take a break first and write a different story. My new book is another psychological thriller, this time about a group of friends whose final party blow-out before leaving for university goes horribly wrong. Ten years later, and someone wants them to remember and pay for what they did. Think ‘I know what you did last summer’, but with fewer fish hooks.
As for me, I am a scientist by day (medical editor) and a fiction writer by night, with a degree in both human biology and English from Keele University. I am also a trained dancer, musician, and sometime artist. Science pays the bills, but my heart has always been in creating. My books are aimed at an adult audience and one who likes to be kept on their toes – I wouldn’t recommend reading Let Me Sleep when tired!
If you would like to learn more about me and my work, you can check out my website (https://www.laurajsillett.com) or Twitter profile (Laura J. Sillett (@MsLauraSillett) / Twitter). Let Me Sleep is now available to purchase in eBook and paperback format from Amazon: Let Me Sleep: Amazon.co.uk: Sillett, Laura J.: 9781739964900: Books
“Oh God, Nico, please forgive me.”
I couldn’t see her behind me. I could see nothing but my own reflection in the mirror, dark and distorted by a huge, jagged crack down the centre.
“Nico, say something, please.”
She was begging. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to speak to her.
Her scream rang out. High-pitched, pained, spine-chillingly frightened. It froze the blood in my veins as I turned to see her.
My eyes opened to greet the dark rock of the ceiling. With a jaded sigh, I rubbed my hands over my sweaty face.
Again. That was four times in the last two days.
My feelings towards the faceless woman were confusing. My pity for her, the need to stop her pain, was being eaten away by the most irrational surges of anger.
But then again, irrational anger seemed to be a speciality of mine. Hanna had been my only visitor in the last two days, and only then it was to bring in food. The others were avoiding me, probably afraid that anything they said would either send me crazy or make me faint. I couldn’t say I blamed them.
Let Me Sleep by Laura J. Sillett