Bestselling Author Catherine Steadman on Why We Enjoy Reading Thrillers

Bestselling Author Catherine Steadman on Why We Enjoy Reading Thrillers

A psychological thriller is a puzzle to solve; a puzzle that might just save your life.

Is he a psychopathic murderer or the man of your dreams? Is this the chance of a lifetime or too good to be true? Ah, those age-old questions?

In life we all like to pride ourselves on our instincts, our common sense. We scream at the page or screen, don’t go in there, don’t trust her, don’t pick that up … and yet we only need to click on our tv’s and tune into the news to see how unexpected terrible things are in real life. But there is a disconnect: when we watch the news, we distance the victims from ourselves, we tell ourselves the news story is a million miles from our safe and, blessedly, ordinary lives. Things like that don’t happen to people like us. And yet, a chill still runs through us. Because the people on the news thought that too, didn’t they? But again, we’ll distance ourselves. We’ll convince ourselves that we would have known better than them, or I would have run, or fought, or outwitted, and survived. We wouldn’t have been there in the first place. But again, that shiver creeps through us because maybe the person on the news thought all of that too?

We enjoy thrillers because they let us play out those what if’s, they let us rehearse what we would do in live or death scenarios, giving us endless trial runs at working out who to trust and who to run from and we can’t get enough of them. An artful twist will throw us a curve ball just as we are riding high on our own ingenuity and we will reel at the sudden shift in what we thought possible. We play out the circumstances over and over in new iterations, trying to ingrain some second sight in ourselves, looking for the safety certainty provides.

Human’s motives, desires, and the will to pursue those desires are limitlessly fascinating to us. If we can decipher the why’s and the how’s then we’ll see something coming before it happens to us. As readers we use what we know of life, of people, to puzzle our way through thrillers and we’re challenged and rewarded for doing so.

Thrillers are an active pursuit, they require us to engage, and in return they help us play out their drama within the safety of their pages, and we are drawn to them. Our adaptive, pattern seeking mammalian brains looking for some overarching narrative. Because if we can just figure it all out then we’d know what to do in real danger, wouldn’t we? After our instincts are spot on, aren’t they? They haven’t let us down yet…

Catherine Steadman

Reviews

Entertaining and Addictive: Take a Sneak Peek at The Disappearing by Catherine Steadman

Review | Extract

12 July 2021

Entertaining and Addictive: Take a Sneak Peek at The Disappearing by Catherine Steadman

    A Mind-Bending Psychological Mystery: Read our Review of The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman

    Review | Our Review

    12 July 2021

    A Mind-Bending Psychological Mystery: Read our Review of The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman

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        Synopsis

        A woman has gone missing. But did she ever really exist? Mia Eliot has travelled from London to LA for pilot season. This is her big chance to make it as an actor in Hollywood, and she is ready to do whatever it takes. At an audition she meets Emily, and what starts as a simple favour takes a dark turn when Emily goes missing and Mia is the last person to see her. Then a woman turns up, claiming to be Emily, but she is nothing like Mia remembers. Why would someone pretend to be Emily? Starting to question her own sanity, she goes on a desperate and dangerous search for answers, knowing something is very, very wrong. In an industry where everything is about creating illusions, how do you know what is real and how much are you willing to risk to find out the truth?
        Catherine Steadman
        About the author

        Catherine Steadman

        Catherine Steadman is an actress and writer based in North London. She is known for her roles in Downton Abbey and Tutankhamun, starring alongside Sam Neill, as well as shows including Breathless, The Inbetweeners, The Tudors, and Fresh Meat. In 2017 Catherine will feature in political thriller Fearless and new BBC comedy Bucket. She also has appeared on stage in the West End including Oppenheimer for the RSC, for which she was nominated for a 2016 Laurence Olivier Award. 

        Books by Catherine Steadman

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