The Twilight Wife: A Psychological Thriller by the Author of The Good Neighbor
by A.J. Banner

Published: 2016-12-27
Paperback : 304 pages
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“Every page is packed with both peril and exquisite writing, and the novel reads like a wholly unique cross between Somewhere in Time and Memento. You won’t be able to put it down!” (David Bell, author of Since She Went Away)

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“Every page is packed with both peril and exquisite writing, and the novel reads like a wholly unique cross between Somewhere in Time and Memento. You won’t be able to put it down!” (David Bell, author of Since She Went Away)

From bestselling author A.J. Banner comes a dazzling new novel of psychological suspense in the vein of S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl that questions just how much we can trust the people around us.

Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.

But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends.

As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare. A twisty, immersive thriller, The Twilight Wife will keep readers enthralled through the final, shocking twist.

Editorial Review

An interview with Victoria Helen Stone, author of the #1 Kindle bestseller EVELYN, AFTER and A.J. Banner, author of the #1 Kindle bestseller THE GOOD NEIGHBOR and THE TWILIGHT WIFE

AJ Banner
AJ Banner

Photo Credit: Carol Ann Morris

Victoria Helen Stone
Victoria Helen Stone

Photo Credit: Victoria Dahl

VHS: I loved the Pacific Northwest setting of THE TWILIGHT WIFE. My next book, HALF PAST, is set in Big Sur, a similarly lonely coast and a great place to isolate my characters with their struggles. Why did you set your book in the Pacific Northwest?

AB: Who could resist the dark forests of the San Juan Islands as the setting for novels of psychological suspense? Some of those isles are uninhabited, while others are so small, they disappear at high tide. The infamous Barefoot Bandit hid out on San Juan Island. And I thought, who knows who else could be lurking in those woods?

I live in a house in the forest on the Olympic Peninsula, so I know this misty, mysterious landscape. I know the way the wind feels on my face when I’m out on the deck of the ferry, the quality of light, the species of wildlife that visit our garden. My home office overlooks a fir forest. Every time I glance up from my laptop computer, I see the setting of my novels!

VHS: What was the most difficult part about writing a character with amnesia? What kind of research did you have to do for the book?

AB: The most difficult part of writing from Kyra’s point of view was climbing into her head and trying to understand her thoughts. I gathered her emotions – fear, uncertainty, worry, hope – and translated them onto the page as best I could. But I needed to make sure she didn’t become shrill or irritating to the reader. She couldn’t wallow in self-pity. She needed to keep trying to rebuild her life and her marriage, to keep seeking the truth of her past.

For research, I read books on memory and types of memory loss – and I studied books on marine biology, since Kyra is a marine biologist.

VHS: Issues of trust, secrets, and questions about what you really know about the people you love are at the heart of both our books. What do you think are some key ingredients that make a good psychological suspense novel? How does your book fit into that genre and does it play with any of those elements?

AB: Readers should care about what happens to the protagonist, and the story should pose intriguing, pressing questions that drive the narrative through unexpected twists and turns and are not answered until the end. For example, in your wonderful book, EVELYN, AFTER, we know from nearly the beginning that Evelyn has secrets, about an accident, about an affair, but we don’t know why, how, when or what the outcome of revealing these secrets will be. In THE TWILIGHT WIFE, I hope readers will wonder exactly what happened in the accident that stole Kyra’s memory, and what key moments she needs to remember about the last four years of her life.

VHS: My novel opens in the middle of an already troubled relationship that’s about to get a whole lot worse—something that I hope keeps readers wondering what will to happen next. Although THE TWILIGHT WIFE is a short read, you managed to pack a lot of action and tension into the plot. You really kept me guessing and I was totally invested in seeing Kyra get back to herself. Was there anything you edited out that didn’t make it into the final draft? I need more secrets!

AB: I love this question! I deleted or revised many scenes, and I wrote at least five different versions of the opening chapter.

One opening began with this:

My oxygen tank is running low. But I must remain calm. Breathe in, breathe out. Do not ascend too quickly. Bubbles of nitrogen will form in my bloodstream. But I’m almost out of air.

Another version began with a prologue:

I’m pedaling as fast as I can, racing south on Desolation Road. I’ve been riding for miles in the darkness, my lungs screaming for air, my muscles cramping in protest.

Ultimately, I decided to start with Kyra’s main dilemma, the loss of her memory:

This morning, I know the scientific term for the vermilion star, Mediaster aequalis, but I have trouble remembering my name.

VHS: I loved that opening line!

Both our books deal with a lot more than just psychological suspense—we also touch on domestic issues like marriage and home life, and about the troubles that start to break down the relationships that are supposed to last forever. So aside from psychological suspense, what other genres/books have influenced your writing? Did you always want to write suspense or did your book start as something else?

AB: The book was always psychological suspense! Novels in a variety of genres have influenced my writing, from science fiction to mainstream/commercial and literary fiction. I loved The Girl on the Train, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Our Souls at Night, and Never Let Me Go — novels that are wildly different from each other but are all superb.

I’ve always loved stories with a twist, from the early Alfred Hitchcock short stories to Joy Fielding’s novels (See Jane Run and Whispers and Lies come to mind) to modern psychological suspense.

VHS: Though it’s one of my favorite genres, I’ve heard the occasional opinion that we have too many psychological suspense novels on the market. With other great books like The Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10, etc... what does your book add to the genre?

AB: I don’t think we can ever have too many riveting novels to read. I believe the genre, “psychological suspense,” offers readers a general idea of what they’re getting when they pick up a book. Also, after the success of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl, many other novels have been compared to these titles, even if the similarities are tenuous at best. Just as you did to EVELYN, AFTER, I hope I’m bringing my own distinctive voice and viewpoint to readers in a way that will have them itching for more.

VHS: I’d say you absolutely succeeded. I adored Kyra’s journey and her voice, so thank you for writing her story!


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