Someone Had to Write It: Finding Our Distinct Thriller Voice

Identical twins Amber and Danielle Brown visit the site today to share their love of the thriller genre and what compelled them to write their debut novel Someone Had to Do It. Read on to get the full scoop!

It’s an understatement to say we love thrillers. It’s our favorite genre and has been for the longest time, more specifically ever since we became obsessed with Eric Jerome Dickey’s slick, sensual, fast-paced sagas back in the early aughts. Lit fic comes in as a close second because we are partial to long-winded character studies that make you feel smart and feature a charitable use of the semicolon, and we’re not afraid to admit it. But our go-to genre is, and will always remain, thrillers, no matter how many times they may ultimately disappoint us—kind of like that S.O. who’s just a “friend” you know you should quit but to whom you keep going back because they’re spontaneous and exciting, though a bit self-destructive.

There’s something innately stimulating about a thriller, both intellectually and emotionally (and sometimes physically), the way they snatch you by the neck and refuse to let you go until the end. And really, sometimes not even then. On a deeper level, thrillers create the false hope of a world in which there is a discernible cause and effect, and usually strong resolve with a contained outcome—an injustice rectified by a direct consequence; a perpetrator impounded for their nefarious actions; a crime that is expertly solved by the police. In thrillers, regular everyday people can wield power to create real, tangible change, avenge wrongs, punish bad guys, save lives. But if we’re totally honest, what it mostly comes down to is that we simply can never get enough of the uncomfortable pleasure of being on the edge of your seat, screaming at characters who make wrong decisions, and pretending we know what is going to happen.

And before you assume we are just weird people with an unhealthy attraction to murder and an absolutely terrifying-slash-potentially-incriminating search history (e.g., “does bleach really get rid of DNA?” and “how many drops of Visine do you need to put someone into a coma?” and “how long does it take for cyanide to kill someone?”), let us explain. The thing is, we are thirty-somethings that don’t spend a lot of time outside of our apartment because we have no life outside of working and are essentially recluses. We need some kind of excitement (other than getting ten questions right in a row during Jeopardy! and breaking up our two cats’ many brawls a day. Seriously, we are your grandparents.) And it just so happens losing ourselves in the delicious drama of other people’s complicated—albeit fictional—lives is how we achieve our daily dopamine high.

By the time we were in college, we knew one day we’d be writing our own novels, which only fueled our obsession even more and started us consuming as many thrillers as we could afford to buy. This is all to say we’ve read tons of books in the genre, probably more than the average thriller reader. We became fans—but also critics.

One of the things that became more and more apparent as we progressed along our reading journey was that the thriller genre is endemic with middle-aged white women going through divorces, cheating scandals and the other things rich white women go through…and not much else. Sure, there are the few select white men who dominate in the legal, spy and political thriller spaces, but these seem to be the only exceptions. On its face, this isn’t shocking or especially problematic in and of itself, being that most of these books are written by white, middle-aged privileged women. Without getting into the many issues with the publishing industry (because that is a whole different conversation), the issue for us voracious readers is that after a while, these similar themes and characters come off as stale, trite and, frankly, boring.

This is not to criticize or insult any books that fit into these criteria. Gone Girl is iconic, an undeniable game-changer for the genre in the truest meaning of the word, rife with impressive prose that we still brood over to this day, and a twist that leaves you absolutely reeling midway through the novel. It’s truly one of those classic, cornerstone books that will never get old, and it categorically left a permanent mark on the industry. But it is, of course, one of many psychological thrillers about a rich white woman and her not-so-great husband written by a white woman.

While these books can feel intimate in their familiarity and definitely bring value to the marketplace, we were desperate to read from a fresh perspective that didn’t utilize these same instantly recognizable characters, backstories and motifs. We wanted to read a thriller that was told from a perspective that we don’t get to see all the time. The more we read, the more we kept coming up empty, and since we have no social lives (sadly, we were not joking) and thus nothing better to do, we decided to write it ourselves. 

We literally sat on the couch for three hours at 8 a.m and threw out idea after idea, building off each other until we both knew we had something solid. We wanted to write something fresh, sexy, and fun that would resonate with our generation—Millennials and older Zoomers. Personally, we don’t know many people who are going through divorces or clumsily trying to manage their teens’ lives. But we do have plenty of friends who are still desperately trying to figure life out and where they fit in it; what they actually want to be when they grow up and how exactly to get there.

Which is why we decided to tell this story from two perspectives—Brandi and Taylor—who on the surface, seem like polar opposites (which, to be fair, is true in a lot of ways), but actually have one major thing in common: They are both so close to having the thing they’ve always wanted… yet so far away. We think a lot of people in our generation can relate to this feeling—the wanting, the craving, the frustration—and we really wanted to explore that.

With that said, here’s to normalizing stories that don’t only cater to white, middle-aged women who brunch.


About Someone Had to Do It by Amber and Danielle Brown:


Brandi Maxwell is living the dream as an intern at prestigious New York fashion house Simon Van Doren. Except “living the dream” looks more like scrubbing puke from couture dresses worn by hard-partying models and putting up with microaggressions from her white colleagues. Still, she can’t help but fangirl over Simon’s it-girl daughter, Taylor. Until one night, at a glamorous Van Doren party, when Brandi overhears something she shouldn’t have, and her fate becomes dangerously intertwined Taylor’s.
Model and influencer Taylor Van Doren has everything…and is this close to losing it all. Her fashion mogul father will donate her inheritance to charity if she fails her next drug test, and he’s about to marry someone nearly as young as Taylor, further threatening her stake in the family fortune. But Taylor deserves the money that’s rightfully hers. And she’ll go to any lengths to get it, even if that means sacrificing her famous father in the process.
All she needs is the perfect person to take the fall…


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