Much of the storytelling inspiration for Every Second Counts comes from three popular TV dramas. This is how:
This fast-paced, plot-driven series has been a massive influence on each of my thrillers. I’ve watched all eight seasons and one of my stand-out moments occurs in the last episode of the third series. It features a desperate race against time with a bomb plot that must be foiled in the most dramatic of ways. In writing Every Second Counts—which involves exactly this scenario—my aim was to give the reader the same sense of breathless excitement that I experienced watching 24 for the first time.
The brilliant first season is more layered and reflective than 24, but every bit as exciting. The premise of Homeland—where one of the two main characters is not sure if the other is a terrorist—was really the starting point for the In a Split Second series. The idea that nobody is sure who they are able to trust is a strong theme through Every Second Counts. And, as it turns out, misdirection and betrayal have devastating consequences…
The Walking Dead
In terms of its storyline, my books have nothing obviously in common with this excellent TV series about a dystopian world in which mankind’s few survivors try to fend off attack from the zombies which plague the earth. And yet it would be true to say that The Walking Dead has been one of the most inspiring shows I’ve ever seen. I was recently stuck in a bit of a rut, bogged down in my story, uncertain of my characters, unsure how to make all the separate elements fit together and lacking a clear sense of direction. In short, I was overcomplicating everything. And then, one evening, I sat down to watch Season 3, Episode 4 of The Walking Dead. As usual, the characters and their relationships were powerfully drawn, and life and death struggles were an inherent part of every scene. But this episode was particularly harrowing and uplifting – and utterly compelling to watch. I’m not going to write here what happens, because I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t seen it (and the zombie stuff is really graphic, so don’t watch if you can’t stomach horror and violence!). Suffice to say that an hour later I emerged thrilled and energized, having been reminded that what really counts in storytelling is a clear, powerful story involving characters we care about who have absolutely everything to lose.
Sophie McKenzie was born and brought up in London, where she still lives with her teenage son. She has worked as a journalist and a magazine editor, and now writes full time. She has tallied up numerous award wins and has twice been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal.