Welcome back, to part three of my mini-series on my love for prologues. And, you know, I really do love them! I have realised that, to date, all of my novels have some form of prologue, although not all of them are labelled as such.
I love planting seeds (and definitely not the gardening kind – my dad could tell you about my efforts from a very young age at how adept I clearly was, even then, at destroying the planting!). The seeds contained in a prologue could, potentially, make or break a reader’s full experience of the story – or the story that I, as author, have imagined you will experience, that I want you to engage with and think about, long after you’ve read the book.
As I said in Part 1 of this mini-series on prologues, there are various reasons for using a prologue in a story, but the most important thing to remember as a writer is that it has to do something. It’s not just a random scene that is disconnected from the story. Quite the opposite – it’s intrinsic to the story in some way. Without it, it’s possible that there are deeper elements to the narrative, or potentially even basic and important ones, that the reader would miss out on if the prologue wasn’t there.
If you’ve read any of my books, or read the extracts in the other posts in this mini-series, you may have realised I have often used the prologue as a device to point the reader to something that happened at some time before the book ‘proper’ gets started. In the extract from The Secrets That Haunt Us, for instance, the letters directly impact the ‘present’ of the story. Because of those letters, two characters have already set their course of action for the story, and the prologue goes some way to explain why, although the full impact of those letters at the beginning is fully and tragically clear until much later on. In the extract from That Killer Image, an event in the villain’s past leads to his atrocity later in life – and here I also give the reader a sneak peek into the truly creepy, split-second, psychological moment that follows him through the entire novel.
Today’s extract is the prologue from No Deadlier Time. This book is a suspense thriller which borders on (or for some readers, is) also psychological horror. Again, because I just can’t help myself it seems, this reveals a past event which impacts so much more than the main characters of the story. It foreshadows what might happen, should Harry, a boy in this prologue, follow in his father’s footsteps once he’s older. But does he? You won’t know unless you read the book (no spoilers here!). It also introduces another character who appears in a minor role here, yet is embroiled in this family’s story in ways you can’t possibly imagine. Or can you..?
Please note that, as my extracts are crime-related books or dark fiction of some kind, they are suitable for an adult readership. Please read responsibly.
Edited 10th March 2023
Unfortunately, this extract is no longer available to read. If you’d like to read the prologue (and the rest of the book!), you can buy it on Amazon, or read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.
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