The Truth Waits by Susanna Beard is a psychological thriller partially set in Lithuania that features many themes including trafficking, crime as well as love and family.
This is Susanna Beards second novel but the first I have read and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed. It is a novel full of suspense and twists which keep you compelled to keep reading. It begins with the main character finding a body on a beach and Lithuania and as she tries to find out what happened for the body to be there she uncovers secrets she didn’t expect to find. Although it is a psychological thriller there is also action and danger throughout. As we follow Anna with this journey we follow her life including her meeting Will, and she begins to fall in love. Through this area of the novel we explore the themes of love and family. We see how Anna life and mindset changes when Will comes into her life.
I really liked Anna as a character and thought she was realistic and likeable. She has her flaws and has made decisions that everyone won’t agree with but I think this helps for the readers to relate, nobody is perfect and its good to see that represented in a novel. We also see the aspects of being in a relationhsip where the woman is older is good to see as it is generally written about with the opposite.
The book has some heavy topics (such as trafficking, abortion etc) and I think that Susanna Beard tackled this really well! I would highly recommend this book.
I reached out to Susanna Beard and asked if I could ask her a few questions and she kindly said yes! (greatly appreciated, thank you!) So the following is those Questions and answers.
- What made you want to become a writer, primarily of psychological thrillers?
I’ve wanted to write novels since I was a teenager – but didn’t have the confidence to go for it. In those days there were no creative writing courses, and writing (except for journalism, which didn’t appeal) wasn’t seen as a ‘proper’ job, sadly. I enjoyed writing throughout school and my English teacher gave me a love of reading and books — she was a great teacher and really inspired me.
When I started my first novel, Dare to Remember, I was just writing a story: I didn’t have any idea it would turn out to be a psychological thriller! When my publisher called it that, it was a surprise. At the time, the genre was very popular (and still is), so I decided it was going to be my focus.
2. Did you have any specific inspiration, or influence to write ‘The Truth Waits’?
Well it was around the time of the huge interest in thrillers, so after my first was published, I decided to start with a thriller-y premise – like the body on the beach!
I then added in some themes I was interested in, like the older woman with a younger man, the concept of people being thrown together – as they were when the Icelandic volcano erupted – and sex trafficking.
3. What research or process did you follow in order to write ‘The Truth Waits’?
Having decided to set the book partly in Lithuania, I looked online at images of the coastline, which looked perfect – great long, empty sandy beaches, dark skies, threatening waters. I also researched sex trafficking, mostly online, and talked to agencies like Victim Support to get a good picture of how sex trafficking works and what happens to the victims.
I met the Lithuanian Attaché in London to get further background on the country, its politics and history. I then spent four days visiting Klaipeda and the Kuronian Spit where the beach was, and travelled by train across the country to Vilnius. It was great to visit a completely different place and to learn about the geography, customs (and even the police!).
4. What made you write this book in the third person, rather than the first?
I suppose I felt more comfortable in third, though I have since written some characters in first. I think it depends on how close you want to be to the deeper thoughts and feelings of your character – though in ‘close’ third (where everything is written from the personal POV of your protagonist, including description), you get a similar feel to first.
5. Was it a conscious decision to make the main character a female, a strong, independent businesswoman at that?
It was indeed! There are parts of me in her – although she’s not me. I like strong female characters and would find it hard to write a woman who stayed weak and submissive throughout the story. I would have to make her change as events unfold and become strong.
As I’m writing mostly contemporary fiction, I aim to write my stories as a realistic picture of women’s lives, and I think today there are many, many women (in developed countries, at least) who are independent and successful, in multiple ways.
6. The book features some tough topics, i.e. sex trafficking, was it difficult to write about this?
Actually, no – although I understand why you’re asking this. I’m an avid watcher of dark films, drama and thrillers, including crime. The theme is covered fairly regularly, and sometimes in shocking detail, so I knew how it would be.
I also think sex trafficking needs more exposure – it’s a sophisticated, international activity run by gangs of career criminals. I looked particularly at Eastern Europe and Russia and found that Western Europe and the US are often the destinations for these girls. Once you start researching, you realise that it’s a terrible problem, all round the world.
7. Was there any reason you decided to set the book in multiple locations including Lithuania. I really enjoyed this international aspect but curious whether there was a specific reason?
I was looking for a beach as a setting – but it couldn’t be a holiday beach with sun and tourists; it had to be empty and unknown – for the dark, suspenseful aspect of the story. I started with the idea of Sicily (where my sister was stranded because of the volcanic ash incident) but soon realised it was too beautiful! So I looked on the map for a more northern location, largely unfamiliar to a British audience. The Baltic coast was perfect.
8. The book also features a forming relationship between two people, was there a reason it features a younger male and the themes of wanting a family and balancing this with careers?
Yes. I think there’s still prejudice about women with younger partners (the word ‘cougar’ used for them is evidence of this!), while men have always been looked on as ‘lucky’ for pairing with a younger woman. The theme of balancing family with career is one that will run and run, for women at least!
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors and writers?
Yes – be patient, keep writing. The rewards are fantastic. If you can, give yourself confidence through training – there are so many brilliant courses out there.
10. Is there anything else about ‘The Truth Waits’ that you would like to share?
I dedicated the book to my dear friend Sharon, a talented and wonderful TV drama producer, who helped me sort out a plot that turned out to be a bit of an octopus! Sadly she passed away last year. I will always remember her generosity in helping me.
I think we can all agree these answers were fab, so many thanks again to Susanna Beard! I would highly recommend this book and hope you enjoy it the same as me!
Many thanks, Caitlin x
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