To shock and surprise – Alex Michaelides chats about his gripping new psychological thriller The Fury
 More about the book!

Alex Michaelides as masterful when it comes to the plot twist, as anyone who’s read his books will know.

Lauren Mc Diarmid chatted to Michaelides about how he goes about crafting these twists and turns, and the creative process behind his new thriller, The Fury.

‘Agatha Christie is a huge influence on me when I craft a plot.’

A story sings when there is a plot twist that is emotionally devastating for the characters, and completes their journey. It’s what I always aim for. And I think that if the reader feels the same emotions as the characters, the twist works. It’s that emotional impact, which, to me, is paramount.

In her biography of Agatha Christie, Laura Thompson says that Christie’s best twists are those when the plot twist and the characters’ emotional resolution occur in the same beat. Five Little Pigs is a great example of that, and something I think about a lot, actually. Christie is a huge influence on me when I craft a plot.

When diving into a new project, I always try to start with the plot twist. With the kind of novels I write, the construction is crucial. It’s a bit like architecture, in a way. I need to know where I’m going, so I tend to start at the end and work backwards. Then, once you have the twist, it leads you to the suspense earlier in the book, as you are always building to a certain point.

The Fury is an interesting case in point because I didn’t do that. I planned my first two novels meticulously, spending more time on the outline than the actual writing of the book. But with The Fury, it had a much more organic process. It made the writing of the book harder, as I went down several dead ends.

In fact, my original plot twist for The Fury just didn’t work. It came out of nowhere, and didn’t really make logical sense. I knew this in my heart, when I gave it to my editors to read. But when their assessment agreed with mine, I felt a little lost. I didn’t know whether or not to abandon the book. Thankfully, I listened to an interview with George Saunders, a writer I hugely admire, and he said that when you hit a stumbling block in a book like that, it’s a great opportunity. He said it is the characters speaking to you, saying they refuse to continue under these contrived conditions, so you need to go back to the beginning and take it step-by-step; and try to find the truthful actions they would do. So that’s what I did. I put down the laptop for three weeks and walked around the park in Nicosia, where I live in Cyprus, and just told myself the story beat by beat. To my amazement and relief, I ended up coming up with not only a better twist, but several more, so the story kept twisting and turning in a way that was entirely unexpected. It was a nerve-wracking process, but still an enjoyable creative experience, and I’m very happy with the way it turned out.

About the book

An exhilarating, gripping new psychological thriller from the author behind the record-breaking, multimillion-copy bestseller, The Silent Patient.

This is a tale of murder. Or maybe that’s not quite true. At its heart, it’s a love story, isn’t it?

One spring morning, reclusive ex-movie star Lana Farrar invites a small group of her closest friends for a weekend away, on her small private island, just off the coast of Mykonos.

Beneath the surface, old friendships conceal violent passions and resentments. And in forty-eight hours, one of them will be dead. But that was just the beginning …

You may think you know this story. Think again.


This article was originally published in The Penguin Post, a magazine about books for book lovers from Penguin Random House South Africa.   

Categories Fiction International

Tags Alex Michaelides Interviews Penguin Random House SA The Fury The Penguin Post

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