Heralded as one of the most gripping thrillers of the year, ‘Shiver’, the debut novel by Gold Coast author, Allie Reynolds, is a sinister, psychological tale that will leave you holding your breath at every page.
Drawing inspiration from Agatha Christie’s, ‘And Then There Were None’, as well as spending five years in the European and Canadian mountains as a semi-professional snowboarder, Allie believed the mountainous backdrop was the perfect setting for a thriller.
“Given the fact that one wrong step in an environment riddled with cliffs, crevasses and avalanches could literally result in your death, the mountains seemed like the ideal environment to base my novel,” she said.
“Basically, I took the concept of Christie’s characters being invited to a remote location under false pretences, then left stranded there with a killer in their midst, and gave it a contemporary twist. Think ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer meets ‘The X Games’!”
‘Shiver’ takes you on the chilling ride of a reunion weekend in the French Alps that turns deadly as five friends, who haven’t seen each other for ten years, discover that someone has in fact deliberately left them stranded at a deserted mountaintop resort. As they discover an ice-breaker game laid out for them, dark secrets and truths are revealed amid a looming snowstorm and the winter bleakness. As they attempt to overcome their rivalries and find their way to safety, old jealousies, passions and resentments rise to the surface, creating a suffocating atmosphere of suspicion and deceit.
Whilst chatting about the main characters of ‘Shiver’, Allie felt like she most resonated with the female narrator, Milla Anderson.
“Milla is a total tomboy who lives and breathes sport. I guess in way, she’s a lot like me, only way more competitive – a trait that ends up being her downfall.
“Actually, there are a couple of other very competitive characters in Shiver who were inspired by some of the current top female snowboarders. I watched a plethora of their videos on YouTube and was just blown away by their skill and courage.
“I also drew inspiration from watching and reading about other professional athletes. During one particular interview, a sportsman said that his rival was one of the most competitive people on earth and throughout their professional sporting relationship, played constant mind games with him.
“When I heard that, my brain went into overdrive and I began imagining the deadly consequences of such games, consequences that in a roundabout way, also found their way into the book,’ she said.
Faced with one of the most difficult challenges authors come up against- writing in a dual timeline, Allie stuck it out through the use of the trusty ol’ post-it note.
“’Shiver’ alternates between the present day, when the characters are stranded at their mountaintop reunion and ten years earlier, when they were young athletes training in the resort. I found it really complicated deciding what to reveal and when. I finally got there in the end though by plotting the scenes onto post-it notes and shuffling them about for hours to find the best order,’ she said.
“Who would’ve thought a yellow post-it note and a whiteboard could be an author’s best friend?”
Perhaps more driven and competitive than she would like to reveal, rather than resting on her laurels following the success of ‘Shiver’, Allie is already penning another novel.
“I’ve been super busy writing my next book, another thriller, set on a remote beach here in Australia. Although, in saying that, I do try and get to one of our beautiful beaches most days for surfing, swimming, snorkelling, walking, or just hanging out with my kids,” she said.
“Living on the Gold Coast is definitely a far cry from my snowboarding days in the mountains, but I haven’t looked back since.”
IMAGE (c) Marcio Ferreira