Still wrestling around with how to approach my WIP. The shift to first person has taken care of some of the problems, but I'm finding myself struggling still some with the form. When I decided last spring to call what I write, "psychological suspense," it was because my overall approach fits the over-arching descriptions commonly given of the genre: thrillers with the focus on character and themes of existentialism and moral ambiguity, etc.
Part of the problem with writing for this genre, though, is that it's not really a genre. There's no section in the bookstore for psychological suspense, there's a lot of disagreement over what authors are included or excluded, and, frankly, there's not even a basic form. The differences between the writings of James Lee Burke, James Keller, Mary Higgins Clark, and Patricia Highsmith are almost numerous enough to make me question the usefulness of the label. And, frankly, even though the same broad description does in some ways apply to their works as it does to mine, my writing has virtually nothing else in common with them.
So here's where you all come in. One of the many benefits an author can gain from reading is learning his craft. Reading people who write the same kind of stuff helps the author through positive and negative examples of style, technique, form, etc. I am desperately scrambling for recommendations of people who write the sort of stuff I do so I can refine.
My overall writing is in pretty good shape, but if I want to smooth the rough edges -- and I do! -- then I need to absorb some more material.
If I were to give a crude summary of how most of my stories distill, it would this: taking a character of ambiguous likability, throwing him into hell, and seeing what comes out the other side. There's a a strong under-current of existentialism and/or Neo-Orthodoxy in the background, but almost never dealt with explicitly.
Anybody have any recommendations of authors who write this sort of material? It could be that I've read some already and just have a blind spot because I'm approaching this from, "Ahh, I need help," so don't hold any suggestions back, no matter how obvious they are.
When I think about my writing influences, there are few authors whom I would say have had a very direct impact. Most of them are short story authors or authors in other genres. Oddly, and frustratingly, what I think my writing most reminds me of are the movies of M. Night Shyamalan and The Game.
So. Recommendations? Referrals? Suggestions?