Meet Lesley Kara Author Of The Dare

What if you can't remember what happened when your best friend died? That's the gripping scenario in Lesley Kara's The Dare. Already a strong seller in hardback, the paperback edition will be published on 22nd July.

Download the ebook of The Dare from Amazon or buy the hardback from Thriller Women's list at NB: if you buy books through this link we may earn a commission from, whose fees support independent bookshops.

Lesley tells Thriller Women all about her inspiration for the plot, what her working day is like and gives us an exclusive on her next novel!

Front cover of The Dare by Lesley Kara

TW: The Dare is your third novel. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about your inspiration for it?

LK: Thank you! Yes, I first had the idea for The Dare when my friend and I revisited our childhood haunts and went on a walk we used to go on between the ages of eleven and thirteen. The walk was across farmland and included an open train crossing. We used to enjoy sitting by the tracks, eating our sweets and waiting for a train to go by. But on our recent visit, we were surprised, and a little disappointed, at how different it all seemed. New houses had been built on some of the land and the crossing was no longer open – it had been fenced off and there was a footbridge. 

Re-doing that walk got me thinking about the past and what it feels like to be on the cusp between childhood and being a young adult. In The Dare, the main character, Lizzie, is bullied and teased because of her epilepsy. I don’t have this condition, but I do remember being bullied sometimes, so I drew on those memories. I think I may also have heard a tragic news story about a child being killed on a crossing – sadly, too many children die this way - and that was really the seed that grew into the novel.

TW: Have you found writing thrillers easier as you go along or do you find it harder by book three to think of ideas and plots?

LK: I’ve found that with each novel I write, some things get easier, but other, fresh problems arise. Writing a novel is a long, hard slog and can be incredibly frustrating sometimes. However, when it’s going well, it’s the best feeling in the world! So far, I’ve been quite lucky with my plot ideas and they’ve just presented themselves to me, if not fully formed, then partially formed. I’m trying to come up with a new idea for a novel right now, and so far, I’m not doing very well! But I have every confidence that something will resonate with me at some point over the next few weeks. It could be a snippet of conversation I overhear, or something I see on one of my walks, or an article I read in the news. Then my subconscious gets to work and before I know it, various scenes or fragments of scenes begin to percolate and off I go again on a new novel-writing adventure!

TW: The Dare has a theme of memory loss: when Lizzie and Alice go for a walk in the woods only Lizzie comes back alive but she can't remember what happened. How did you manage to play with memory and perception for plot twists so skilfully?

LK: Lizzie’s loss of memory is linked to her epilepsy. Right at the start of the novel, she has a seizure and when she comes round, Alice has been killed by a train. Lizzie cannot remember what happened in those crucial few minutes before she lost consciousness. This is obviously a useful plot device so that the reader is just as much in the dark as Lizzie. 

The novel is told via a dual timeline: Lizzie at thirteen years old, both before and immediately after Alice’s tragic death, and Lizzie as an adult woman. Writing these two versions of Lizzie enabled me to capture different elements of her personality and focus on her perceptions at significant moments in her life. As with most psychological thrillers, holding things back from the reader is a way of creating suspense, and as Lizzie herself cannot remember exactly what happened, hopefully the suspense is heightened.

TW: Your books all contain themes of families, friendships and relationships. What made you want to write on the domestic side of the thriller genre and why do you think it is so popular?

LK: I didn’t set out to write psychological thrillers. It was a chance remark from an editor who’d critiqued the opening chapters of a novel I wrote many years ago which set me off in this direction. I think she was responding to a short section that must have been suspenseful in some way and which she considered to be the strongest part of the chapters I’d sent her. As soon as I started writing in this genre, I discovered that the words began to flow and I really enjoyed it. 

As for writing about families, friendships and relationships, I’m not sure I could write about anything else! I’m never going to be the type of novelist who writes about car chases, or bank heists, because those things don’t particularly interest me, whereas people and how they behave are endlessly fascinating. I guess that’s why so many people like this genre, because the characters and situations are ones they can relate to.

TW: Are there any other genres you'd like to write in and if so, which ones?

LK: I enjoy reading other genres as well as crime, particularly literary fiction and non-fiction. I like some science fiction and dystopian fiction too, so I’d never rule out trying to write in a different genre one day. I also enjoy writing short fiction occasionally, and would very much like to write a collection of short stories at some point.

TW: Tell us about your working day.

LK: My working day varies according to the time of year, and what stage I’m at with my work-in-progress. During the summer months, I like to get up quite early and use the time to think and plan and dream up ideas for my next novel. I might start working on a novel during this time, but the time I spend actually writing at my desk wouldn’t typically be more than three to four hours. Having said that, if I get ‘in the zone’, time just flies and I might end up being there for much longer. But from September to February/March, I work quite intensely. I try to keep to office hours if I can, although sometimes I clock off early and watch some Netflix, read a book, or go for a walk. It really does depend how happy I am with what I have achieved. 

I’m not motivated by word count, but I like to feel that I have written a good scene and/or moved the novel on in some significant way. I have a little office and work on an iMac, but I do scribble lots of things down in notebooks and on post-it pads too, and if I’m away, then I work on my laptop. I do like to have a proper breakfast with my husband and do the crossword and drink a good cup of strong coffee before starting work though, and that part of my routine rarely changes!

TW: If you could write anywhere where would it be?

LK: I prefer to work in my office if I can. It might sound romantic, cloistering myself away in a retreat somewhere remote and beautiful, but actually, I work better when I’m at home. I do take myself off on writing retreats sometimes, but tend to use that time for thinking and planning and jotting down notes, rather than actually writing. If I’m somewhere beautiful and remote, I’d rather be out exploring and soaking up the sights and experiences, than sitting at a table writing all day!

TW: Any exclusives on books four and five?

LK: I’ve just finished book four, which is now being read by my editor. I don’t have a title for it yet, but watch this space because I’m sure we’ll come up with one soon! All I can say at this stage is that it’s about a woman whose aunt has just been brutally murdered, the funeral director who is helping her arrange a suitable service, and a woman who has been missing for almost ten years. I will come up with a much better pitch soon, but until I’ve gone through the editorial process, I’d rather keep quiet, just in case anything changes!

As for book five, I have no idea what that’s going to be about. Not yet, at any rate!

Quick fire questions:

TW: Phone or email? 

LK: Email.

TW: Cup of tea or glass of wine?

LK: Tea (but I like wine too!)

TW: Laptop or pen and paper?

LK: Laptop (but pen and paper are useful sometimes!)

Thanks Lesley!
Author photo of Lesley Kara copyright Christian Davies

More about The Dare

Come on. You'll be fine. It's only a game.

'This time it's different. She's gone too far now. She really has.'

Lizzie has no memory of the accident in which her best friend Alice died as a teenager. And it was an accident. Wasn't it?

Alice's friends and relatives suspect Lizzie was to blame, but Lizzie knows that can't be true. She would never have hurt Alice.

Twelve years on, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiance, Lizzie is finally beginning to feel like she can move on with her life.

But someone has other ideas...


Would you like to recommend a female thriller writer for us to interview? Please do get in touch with us by email: We love to hear from readers. 


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