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One More Breakup Might Be Their Last

By Millie Naylor Hast

Samantha Downing turns romance on its head in A TWISTED LOVE STORY. The bestselling author of My Lovely Wife introduces Wes Harmon and Ivy Banks, a couple whose match was not made in heaven. Or, maybe it was. When it was good, it was very, very good, but when it was bad, it was no-holds-barred fights, arrest warrants, and maybe something worse, like murder. Can this mercurial couple survive a police investigation?

A TWISTED LOVE STORY is Downing’s fourth published novel. Like many writers, she had completed several novel-length manuscripts when she joined a critique group. At the time she was working on My Lovely Wife, someone in the group loved the book and sent it to someone who knew someone who knew someone…which led to an agent and publisher—all in one crazy month, after some 20 years of writing.

We were delighted when Downing took time from her busy schedule to give The Big Thrill the lowdown on her life and this story.

How did you get started writing?

I was a big reader growing up and eventually started writing my own stories. For me, writing was about freedom. I could create anything, no matter how wild or crazy, or unbelievable.

Why the domestic psychological thriller genre?

Love changes our behavior and reactions and how we see the world…and not always for the better.Most domestic thrillers revolve around people we can relate to—our neighbors or friends at work, or perhaps we see ourselves in the characters. Their day-to-day lives are work and kids and home life, things a lot of people are familiar with.

I twist that familiarity around into something more sinister. What if the nice people next door are psychopaths, like the couple in My Lovely Wife? Or what if it’s a high school teacher, like in For Your Own Good?


I wanted to write a story where love and relationships were characters. Love changes us. Wes and Ivy are different together than they are as individuals. Love changes our behavior and reactions and how we see the world…and not always for the better. That’s what I wanted to capture, not only for Wes and Ivy but for all the relationships in the book.

How did the story unfold for you?

Samantha Downing
© Jacqueline Dallimore

The idea of writing a ‘relationship thriller’ came to me first, and then I came up with Wes and Ivy. Their relationship unfolded as a tumultuous roller-coaster, one of those on-off couples that everyone knows, except more dramatic. Other people get pulled into their antics, which is an important part of the story.

Wes and Ivy are a little bit like that famous saying, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” They love the excitement of getting back together and the drama of breaking up. Both know they will get back together. It’s just a matter of when and how. Whatever their reasons—good or bad—Wes and Ivy love this relationship, the drama and the excitement of it. They have found a way to fall in love over and over again. And who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of falling in love?

The detective, Karen Colglazier, is another fascinating character.

Karen is one of my favorites, and she was always part of the plan. She’s had her own relationship issues, and they formed her belief system about other people, including Wes and Ivy. Every character in this book is damaged in some way—as all of us are—and Karen is no exception. Love changed Karen as much as it changed Wes and Ivy.

What was the most fun aspect of writing this story? The hardest part?

I loved writing the scenes between Wes and Ivy. To me, their chemistry jumped out whenever I wrote about them. They trust each other on some things, but not others, and part of their fun is trying to figure out what the other one is up to.

The most difficult part of this book was balancing the story of Wes and Ivy’s relationship and the story of the detective who is hunting them. Each is important, but how much of each part was a challenge.

What’s your writing process?

I am definitely a pantser. The more I get to know the characters, the more possibilities open up. That’s part of the fun for me. Writing one chapter inspires possibilities for the next chapter, but I can’t do that in advance the way plotters do. I have to write it first.

Twists come to me as I write. This is another reason why I’m a pantser—I tend to have much better ideas as I write the story than if I try to come up with them in advance. I know the characters better, the story becomes more and more fleshed out, and I start getting those “twist” ideas. Sometimes they don’t work, and I have to try something else. I edit a lot before turning a book in.

Tell us about your next novel.

My next book is another thriller and that’s all I can say about it right now!

Millie Naylor Hast