Guest Post: Writing Our Fears



Sarah Hilary portrait and collects of her grandparents and mother that were taken in a Japanese POW camp. Mementos - a heart shaped pendant and a crucifix carved from the canopy of a plane and a book.  Photo by Linda Nylind. 31/1/2014.


Today I am happy to be hosting a guest post by Sarah Hilary, author of

  • the superbly disturbing Someone Else’s Skin which recently won the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year award;
  • No Other Darkness which was published in paperback last week and which I enjoyed even more than her debut.

If you enjoy quality crime fiction then you want to read these books. In the mean time, enjoy this post. 

Writing Our Fears by Sarah Hilary

‘Write what you know’ always struck me as bunkum. ‘Write what you want to know’ was my maxim for many years, but now I have a new one that sums it up much better (for me, at least).

‘Write what you fear’ is my new mantra.

No Other Darkness was a scary book to write and is, I hope, a scary book to read because so much of its story spoke to the under-the-bed monsters in my head. Here, then, is a rundown of my fears as manifested in Marnie Rome book two.

Going underground

So, bunkers. While I’m not quite claustrophobic, I can think of several places I’d rather spend time than in an underground bunker. I could feel its bruising damp as I started to write and that’s what I need—to be where I’m writing. I could smell the green-black rot, and feel the raw cement walls squeezing me. My palms were sweating the whole time I was writing the scenes towards the end of the book when Marnie’s trapped underground.

Angry teenagers

I’m scared of them. I’m scared for them. Marnie’s bogeyman is an angry teenage boy, but it’s more complicated than that because she herself was an angry teenager—something that haunts her throughout the series.

Creepy dolls

Anyone who’s seen the Penguin US cover of No Other Darkness will be with me on this one. I used to collect dolls as a girl. My ‘Mama’ doll went in the bath with me so many times she ended up saying, ‘Murder’. True story.

Lost children 

I’m a mother. I cried when I wrote the opening chapter of No Other Darkness. Like Marnie, it mattered to me that I was with the lost boys every step of the way. When Marnie sits in silence with them in the bunker—that was a seminal scene in terms of her character.

Losing yourself

‘There is no other darkness than this: what’s inside us. Where we hide; what we hide.’ The character who speaks this line in No Other Darkness scares me because of who she is and what she’s done. Her despair scares me, and her loss. Her fear scares me. The idea of losing yourself so completely that you’re no longer in control of your thoughts or actions—terrifies me.


So, there you have it. A handy list of the buttons to press to send me over the edge. But if you think this is frightening, you should see where book three is taking me. It’s not called Tastes Like Fear for nothing.


This post is part of the No Other Darkness blog tour. Check out the other stops on the tour, detailed below.

No Other Darkness pb.indd        Blog Tour


If you are on Twitter and live in the UK then, for today only, you can enter to win a copy of No Other Darkness. Check out my feed for details: Jackie Law (@followthehens) | Twitter.


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