90 Minutes With A Killer Inspired My Thriller.
- A Guest Post by Joan Ellis
A train journey could have cost me my life. It certainly changed it. I sat opposite a self-confessed murderer for an hour and a half travelling from London to Portsmouth.
Initially, he was charming, even lifting my case onto the luggage rack but as time went on it I suspected there was more to this good looking guy than met the eye. He made
a couple of odd remarks, things that just didn't add up. Then, he said he hadn't seen his kids in a while. When I asked why he told me he'd been in prison. I hoped it was for
some petty offence. When he boasted he had slit a man''s throat, I froze. People have asked why I didn't move seats. Because I was frightened he would come after me.
For all I knew he could've had a knife. So, I decided the best thing to do was to try and keep him calm and not antagonise him.
During that time, I was terrified, horrified and repulsed but never bored. What better start to a novel?
To my relief, he got up to leave the train at the next stop. Then, he did something I didn't expect. He asked me run away with him. Obviously, I refused. But, it got me
thinking. What kind of woman would want to be with a man like him? Would would make someone decide they needed a killer in their life?
The opening chapter is pretty much word for word what happened to me. The rest? Pure fiction. I hope.
Genres: Psychological Thriller
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‘I slit someone’s throat,’ the man told the woman on the 4.20 from Waterloo to Portsmouth.’
Two strangers. One shared interest. Murder. Ben slit a man’s throat. Sandra’s son, Carl witnessed a murder.
With Carl on a Witness Protection Programme, Sandra fled London to live anonymously in a remote village on the Isle of Wight where she becomes increasingly isolated and vulnerable. Terrorised by an unknown stalker, the police are unable to help and she turns to Ben. What makes a respectable, middle-aged woman want to sleep with a killer? More importantly, can the relationship give her the love she craves and help Ben find redemption?
Hate, fear and lies boil over in a page-turner with love at its black heart.
Locking the door and flicking on the radio, she relaxed as the DJ’s silky smooth voice seemed to single her out from his millions of listeners and speak to her alone. It was an old broadcasting trick but she didn’t care. The mindless chatter was soothing and suited her just fine.
‘Do you ever get that?’ asked the DJ. ‘You’re walking along the street and someone says ‘Hi ya, mate. How’s it going?’ And you’re thinking ‘Do I know you? Or are you just some weirdo?’ Ha, ha. If that’s happened to you, tell us. Text the word, ‘stranger’ to …’
She quickly turned it off, her mind jolting back to the man on the train. What if he came back? What if he was here, hiding inside the cottage?
Sandra froze, her heart pounding against her ribs.
‘Dove Cottage, Shorwell, PO30 5AB,’ she could hear herself saying on the train. ‘‘B’ for bravo. ‘B’ for bravo.’
‘‘More like ‘S’ for ‘stupid’,’ she thought bitterly.
Cautiously, she crept upstairs and flung open her bedroom door causing the handle to bang against the wall. From the doorway, she could see the whole of the room, even under the bed. Nothing. Her wardrobe was on the landing. She pulled the door and it swung open. Her scant collection of clothes hung like husks on the rail.
As she approached the bathroom a wild face greeted her. She leapt back terrified before realising she was looking at her own reflection. Breathing heavily, she headed back downstairs and into the kitchen.
She sat at the table and told herself to calm down, there was nothing to worry about, the man had played his sick little joke, game over. Gradually, her heartbeat slowed.
She decided a cup of tea would soothe her nerves and she reached into the fridge for the milk. Spotting half a loaf of bread, she put two slices into the toaster before opening the cupboard where she kept her special plate.
Carl had spotted it in a junk shop in Brighton on one of their many excursions and had asked to have his pocket money early so he could buy it. It was one of the few gifts he had given her over the years and she treasured it.
It was not in its usual place but it was always in the cupboard above the sink, behind the casserole dish. She glanced across at the shelves and work surfaces. No sign of it. Frantically, she tried to recall when she had last used it. It had been just before she had left for London. Her cheese sandwich had tasted all the better for being eaten off such precious crockery. She remembered using the last of the washing-up liquid to wash it up. She checked the bin. Sure enough, there was the empty bottle.
As she turned back she saw it in the sink. She went over and picked it up. It was covered in crumbs and smeared with a dark, sticky substance. She sniffed it suspiciously. Marmite. She had bought a new jar recently but not used it. She opened the cupboard, found the pot and unscrewed the lid. Sure enough, the seal had been broken.
She clung to the edge of sink. He had been back to her house and this time he had been inside. He must have wanted her to know; just like before he made no attempt to cover his tracks.
How the hell had he got in? She was always so careful to lock up. She felt the vomit rise in her throat. She bolted upstairs and into the bathroom where she flung herself over the toilet. Looking down into the porcelain bowl, she was repulsed and shocked to see it was full of dark, foamy urine.
She knew it couldn’t possibly be hers. She had not used the lavatory that morning; she had peed in the shower.
Advertising copywriter, comedy writer, performer, lecturer – Joan Ellis has been them all. With a full-time job in a top London advertising agency and a new baby, she did what any right-minded woman would’ve done and set up a comedy club. She even appeared on the same bill as Jo Brand. Once.
A career highlight was casting a black and white moggie as Humphrey Bogart for her award-winning cat food commercial. Other great performers who brought her words to life include Penelope Keith and Harry Enfield.
As a lecturer, Joan taught comedian Noel Fielding all he knows about advertising before encouraging him to showcase his creative talents on a wider stage.
Working for The Press Association, she tutored Wordsworth’s
great-grandson in the art of copywriting: Buy a host of golden daffodils and get a blue one, free!
Suffering from swine flu and sweating like a pig, she moved from London to the Isle of Wight where she lives on cream teas with her beloved husband, daughter and two cats.
She recently launched her books at The Ventnor Fringe and the Isle of Wight Literary Festival.
Connect With The Author:
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