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The Murderer Who Doesn’t Exist

Sahlan Diver Author Interview

Sahlan Diver Author Interview

For The Love of Alison follows David who is a witness, and eventual suspect, of a murder who must rush to clear his name. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

In my first novel, The Secret Resort Of Nostalgia, I had a clear idea from the outset what the big mystery was and how the surprise reveal at the end would be done, so I only had to fill in the detail. This second novel, For The Love of Alison, was written the other way round. I started with a few details, like the unconventional college friend who marries a respectable solicitor, and the weird guy breaking into a house in a clown suit to perform a scene from a play, but I had no plot other than a vague idea about a murder which comes back to haunt the murderers. In fact, looking back, the material was so thin, it’s surprising that I thought it worth continuing. Only after I got the opening idea of “the murderer who doesn’t exist” did all the other ideas come thick and fast.

David is a London newspaper columnist, and I found his character to be interesting and well developed. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in his character?

I always create my central character as “man-in-the-street” and deliberately write my novels as first person narrative. Basically, I am saying to the reader: if you were put in this extraordinary situation that the protagonist finds himself trapped in, how would you try to get out of it? So, it’s important the reader can empathise with the character. He needs to be resourceful, persistent, basically a good guy at heart, whatever problems he might be experiencing in his life. And in this novel there is the initial element of uncertainty – has David fully recovered from his mental illness; how much can we trust what he is telling us?

I enjoyed the mystery embedded in this story, and the twists that came sudden and often. Were these planned or did they develop organically?

A mixture of both. For example, there is a startling twist about ten chapters in that sets up the fundamental mystery. I suddenly realised I could do something with the Alison character that would raise it above the level of a mundane, missing person story. The problem then was to come up with a resolution that readers would find convincing. I remember telling a friend I’d dug myself a very big hole and didn’t know how to get out of it. That’s where the organic plot development comes in, devising connections between people and events that make the apparently unfathomable all seem simple and obvious after the fact. However, it’s no pleasure for the reader if they guess too early, so I constantly misdirect, making it look like a situation is like this, or a character is like this, only to end chapters with a twist that effectively says “you weren’t expecting that, were you?”

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have started on a third novel, which is more ambitious than the first two. It will have a central mystery and a central character who tries to unravel it, but there will also be a number of parallel plots involving political opportunism, environmental emergency, religious fanaticism, even a semi-erotic situation between the 20-something protagonist and his 50 year old boss. The setting will in the future, the year 2050, at an inland lakeside town in Ireland that has become a booming European tourist destination due to climate change. Optimistically I might finish by December 2019, but the following summer is a more likely time-scale.

Author Links: Website

For The Love Of Alison by [Diver, Sahlan]

Journalist, David Buckley witnesses a murder. Only one problem – the murderer doesn’t exist, so now Buckley’s the chief suspect, and he’s on the run. Can he prove his innocence – and his sanity?

Student David Buckley’s obsession with fellow student, Alison Tindell, led to hospitalisation for mental illness. Thirty years on, Buckley, now a successful journalist, receives a surprise phone call from Alison, inviting him to visit. That same evening, a murder occurs; Buckley is accused, and Alison, his only alibi, vanishes. The police don’t believe she ever existed. Buckley escapes, travelling the country in a desperate search to find her before the law catches up. But someone else intends to find Buckley first, a person he fears more than anyone.

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For the Love of Alison

For The Love Of Alison by [Diver, Sahlan]

For the Love of Alison by Sahlan Diver is a mystery novel following David, a columnist for a newspaper in London, who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Or did he? In a moment of insanity. Out of the blue, David receives a call from a woman from his past. Alison invites David to visit her, but then, later that night David is arrested on suspicion of the murder of Jack. Alison has disappeared. Where did Alison go? Did she lure David in just to frame him for murder? Is anything David thinks he knows actually real?

The book intrigued me from the first chapter. I really enjoyed all the twists and turns in the story. The intrigue kept me guessing and there were several things that were revealed that came as a surprise. But at times, there were so many different pieces of information that it was a bit difficult to keep all the facts straight.

The ending of the story is bitter. I can’t say much more without giving away the ending, but it’s not an ending I was expecting at all. The characters in the novel were all superbly developed and you get drawn into their characters actions so much that you either love them or love to hate them or their actions.

For the Love of Alison is immediately captivating and consistently engrossing. With plot twists in every chapter that kept me on the edge of my seat, always guessing, judging, and flipping pages.

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