|Jenny Morton Potts, Author|
Jenny Morton Potts brings us HIDING, a psychological thriller that reviewers say has a “terrific concept, in-depth personalities” whose author has a “gift for creating terrifying atmospheres” “with twists and turns that border on incredible.” Potts confirms that the story is about the study of the two main characters, which might take it out of the crime thriller genre—but she believes it falls within that genre as well. She also allows the story to pull her away from traditional rules, when she believes the “unusual” is the way to go.
She has recently moved to a new location near London and lives there with her family. She loves to travel and would like to do more, enjoys opera, theater, sudoku, and her dog. She is in the process of finishing a new thriller.
Q: You describe HIDING as a psychological thriller. What makes it so?
Jenny Morton Potts: It’s an incredibly deep psychological study of the two main characters. Although there is a lot of plot, HIDING I feel moves out of the classic crime thriller and into the realms of deep characterization analysis. That’s why I classified it as a psychological thriller. But it fits well within crime thriller too!
Q: Many of your reviewers claimed that HIDING is “character driven” “great” …“believable characters” and “in-depth personalities.” What character traits are important to develop in a psychological thriller? What will draw readers in and what will push them away?
Jenny Morton Potts: I think readers are drawn to the edge, the jeopardy the character finds themselves in. The trick is to make the reader feel it so closely, that they question their own responses fully. Then you must allow them to move away from that, back to safety, as the ‘baddie’ turns so bad that they are lost, and the reader no longer has to question themselves to the same extent.
Q: First, congratulations on numerous thoughtful reviews of HIDING.
I was struck by the mild disagreement by your reviewers regarding the dual storylines that you use to tell your story. Some unequivocally enjoyed its use; others did not, but applauded how well executed it was and also suggested it would make a great movie. Why did you use this approach?
Jenny Morton Potts: I think what distracted reviewers more was the fact that the duality lasted so long. I didn’t really intend for that to happen but it did, and it was strong, and so I rode that wave. I knew it would be controversial but that is mostly because it is unusual.
I once wrote a short story in second person and because that was rare, people fretted over it. However, by the end of the story, they got it, and I won a prize for it. I don’t mean to give the impression that I do controversy or gimmicky for the sake of it. It all grows organically. Sometimes I put a stop to it but then if I halt a process because of concern over feedback, I can, on occasion, question why am I writing? Who am I writing for? You know?
Q: One of your reviewers – who gave HIDING a high rating – was disappointed that not all the loose ends were tied up as normally done in mystery novels. I tend to also look for resolution when reading mysteries, my favorite genre. Did you deliberately write your story to leave out tying up loose ends for some reason? Are you planning a follow-up book?
Jenny Morton Potts: I could follow up this book but am very satisfied with it as it is. Most reviewers who remarked on loose ends thought that they were tied up in HIDING but I remember someone saying what you quote here. That was surprising, since I only left one end loose. And that was deliberate. It was a minor character and I just don’t think it is realistic to have total neatness.
Q: Were you able to use elements of the setting to help tell or enrich your story?
Jenny Morton Potts: Yes, setting was very important. Because I had an unusual story and an unusual take on spinning it, I wanted to make other elements simple and fully embraceable. That is why I picked an austere Highlands mansion and used the classic, American ‘porch.' I didn’t want the reader to have any work to do with settings, just to love them!
Q: In addition to writing novels, you also have written a screenplay PIANO FROM A 4TH STOREY WINDOW. Do you prefer one over the other? Are you able to borrow techniques from one to apply to the other?
Jenny Morton Potts: I think ‘Piano…’ is the best piece of work I have ever done, as a novel. If I had to choose from plays and books, I think I’d pick novel writing, because you get to do dialogue and prose. I couldn’t relinquish the prose. I can’t think of how I appropriate a technique from one to the other, except that the screenplay is so disciplined for dialogue, it instils great honing for spoken scenes in a novel.
Q: One of your reviewers says that HIDING is “A wacky thriller that breaks all the rules.” Do you believe that you broke “the rules?” Why and what rules did you break?
Jenny Morton Potts: I think that reviewer is absolutely right. I am a wacky writer. But as I explained above, this isn’t something I focus on or try for. It is just me. I am also a gentle writer and a funny writer. I am thinking of the reader all the time and trying to make the experience as good as possible for me and you, in partnership. There are an amazing amount of rules in writing and whilst I think they should be read and understood, the best books will often break rules.
Q: What techniques or approaches did you use to create the “thriller” or suspense parts of HIDING?
Jenny Morton Potts: This is an interesting question (well, they all are). As if there was a little cupboard to go into and choose. What I did was lay clues. Some were supposed to lead you quickly, some were subliminal. I laid those and also creepy lines. I often let them hang. Later, I go back and lay more or uproot and replant them. HIDING is a puzzle. It was so much fun to make that puzzle.
Q: What’s next?
Jenny Morton Potts: I’m just completing a new thriller. This has all my hallmarks but it has a more regular structure. I take you to places you’ll want to see and places you’ll dread. Fascinating dilemmas and unique situations. There’s death, birth, loss, mayhem, sex, heartache. All my staples.
Q: Tell us about Jenny Morton Potts. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Jenny Morton Potts: I like travelling. I’d like to do a lot more, so that I can write about the far-flung world and its people. Just need to wait for my son to finish his schooling. I like opera, theatre, super-fiendish sudoku, my dog. I love tennis but can’t play due to injury. Oh yes, my family, I love them and doing stuff in our new location near London.
About Jenny Morton Potts
Jenny Morton Potts was born in a smart, dull suburb of Glasgow where the only regular excitement was burglary. Attended a smart, dull school where the only regular excitement was the strap. Worked in smart, dull sales and marketing jobs until realizing she was living someone else’s life.
Escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon who wanted to talk about The Da Vinci Code, wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England – and unlikely ever to leave again – Jenny, with assistance from loyal hound, walked and swam her way back to manageable health.
Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, partnered for 28 years, she ought to mention, and living with inspirational child in Thaxted, Essex.
Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.
This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?