P.J. Stanley: Pressing the Envelope on the Mystery Thriller
Everyone loves a good mystery, especially when the story is compelling and the characters are engaging. But telling a good mystery is not always a simple task. The writer has to give the reader options and keep it interesting enough to keep the reader engrossed in the tale. For one writer, it is the challenge, and the joy of storytelling, that enables him to craft those stories continually.
P.J. Stanley recently released his first novel Tell Me Every Lie a couple weeks ago and it has slowly gained traction. His journey to becoming an author was not always easy.
“I loved books with I was younger,” Stanley explained. “I read everything from R. L. Stine to Christopher Pike to Stephen King. Getting sucked into those stories took me out of the world that I was living in. Growing up, I struggled a lot; especially with repressing my sexuality and dealing with other issues at the time. Like many others, books were my escape from all of that.”
That enabled Stanley to enroll in writing classes in school, to get a feel on how to improve his craft, and learn techniques in world building.
“I wrote to feel like I had control of the world around me,” he added. “There was this storm of confusion inside of me and I was struggling with who I was and writing helped me out of that storm.”
Stanley started out writing screenplays and then eventually progressed into novel writing.
He credited the Friday the 13th movies that he watched with his father for helping him develop his love for horror. But he still had a way to go to create a proper story and plan it out correctly, admitting his first few scripts were bad.
“I knew nothing about formatting or any technical requirements,” he admitted. “I was doing it mostly for an escape and just my love for the genre. I’ve learned that no matter how many times something has been done, do it. No one else has your voice. The slasher genre has been done to death, but those scripts meant so much to me at the time. No one else can write like you and no one else can execute it the way you do. Just do it and be passionate about it. “
Tell Me Every Lie is about a woman named Emily searching for her missing 21-year-old daughter Blair. It is a high action-paced thriller about a mother willing to do whatever it takes to find her child, while racing against the clock.
“The story, like most of my stories, came out of nowhere,” Stanley laughed. “Sometimes I’ll watch a movie or read a news story and a tiny piece of it just sticks out to me. Then my mind will start racing and I’ll just think of this world and these characters and these places and it all just clicks slowly. I just really wanted to write something that would keep you turning the pages, but also really grip onto that mother-daughter bond that the two characters share.”
Tell Me Every Lie exemplified the dynamic between a single mother and her adult daughter, the basis of how close their relationship is.
“One thing I really enjoyed about writing Tell Me Every Lie was the dynamic between Emily and her daughter, Blair,” Stanley beamed. “They get so little time together in the book and yet you have so much sense of how much Blair means to Emily. You see how Emily will do just about anything to find out the truth about what happened to her daughter. That’s the main point. Forget all of the twists and the turns and the ending. The bones of this story is that relationship; is that drive in a mother to protect her young. It all boils down to that instinct.”
As he has released his first book over, Stanley realized the struggles a self-published author had to endure to prepare for his debut.
“One thing I’ve taken away is to really prepare yourself for everything that can go wrong… and expect it,” he detailed. “With self-publishing, it is all on you; from the cover to the marketing to actually putting the book out there. If I have learned anything, it’s to put yourself out there. It is so important to get to know the people around you and on your social media. If you want your name and your work out there, you have to work damn hard for it.”
Tell Me Every Lie is now available on Amazon. Anyone who loves a good thriller or mystery might want to pick it up.