Here's a non-spread interview with Sarah Pinborough (UK author, Behind Her Eyes). A six-part adaptation of the novel was made available on Netflix by Sarah Pinborough on February 17th. Due to their controversial and shocking ending, the series and book are trending socially with #WTFThatEnding
Behind Her Eyes is a documentary that follows the lives and times of Louise (a single mother) and Adele and David (a married couple). It is full of bizarre mind games and sexual attraction.
Here, Sarah talks to Chris Roberts MBE about how she decided on ‘That Ending’, what she thinks of the Netflix series, the casting of the characters, and a bit about herself and her writing career.
Sarah Silverwood is well-known for her more than twenty novels that have been published across the globe. She also writes fantasy fiction as Sarah Silverwood. Sarah won the British Fantasy Award 2009 for Best Short Story, and was the winner in 2010 and 2014. She also received the British Fantasy Award 2014 for Best Novella. In addition to being shortlisted four times for Best Novel, she has also been nominated for the British Fantasy Award. A screenwriter who worked for BBC, Sarah is currently working on three television projects as well as the adaptation of her novel The Death House.
Sarah lives with Ted, her dog in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire. Sarah says that she's always been a writer and she knows she excelled in creative writing at school. Although she wrote school plays and short stories, she didn’t really take writing seriously until her late twenties. Sarah is a writer in many different genres including fantasy, horror and thrillers. She claims she feels most at home when mixing genres. Sarah also says that screenwriting is her favorite thing, as well as novels. “I think every writer tries to make each book different,” said Sarah. “I’m currently contracted to write psychological thrillers, so I have to stay in that genre. But I do like playing around in different genres and I like to try to weave bits of other things into my thrillers.”
Sarah’s talent cannot be confined to one genre. It’s far too complex. Behind Her Eyes is a story she wrote about what appears to be a normal love triangle. But this triangle is far from typical.
Sarah is the author of more than twenty novels, and it's interesting to see how she begins writing them. Is she meticulous about planning it with a beginning, middle and end? And, in the case of Behind Her Eyes, how and when did she decide on ‘That Ending’?
“There are planners and there are pantsers (flying by the seat of…),” explained Sarah. “I am definitely a planner and I have key plot points in place before I start writing.”
Sarah claims that Behind Her Eyes took eight months for her to complete. Although she finds planning the most difficult part of any book, she was able to complete the last chapter before even starting writing it. “In the case of Behind Her Eyes, I think it would have been impossible to have written the book without that ending having already been in place. There were too many clues that needed seeding,” said Sarah. “So yes, the whole book was created around that ending.”
There has been so much controversy about ‘That Ending’. Do you think she regretted her decision? Sarah soon confirmed: “No absolutely not! This is the book's ending. There were many publishers interested in the book when it was sold for the US market. A few publishers wanted the ending to be changed or less shocking. However, they were ignored right away! I love the ending and it is the ending that makes the book and Netflix series so different.”
Sarah confirmed that the Netflix series did not alter the storyline for those who have read the book. Sarah attended the read-through, and spent a few days on set. She said it was great fun. She was kept in touch by Netflix and Left Bank, the production company that produced the series. They were also very transparent about the process. The ending of the novel and the series are the exact same, she confirms. “It’s a really faithful adaptation and Netflix have done the ending really well. The whole team at Left Bank were very on board with the ending and were determined it wouldn’t be changed.”
As an author, Sarah believes that the novelist shouldn’t really have any say at all, as they have basically handed it over for the TV or film people to decide what to do with it. Sarah, therefore, had no say in the casting – it was all down to Left Bank and Netflix. She said: “The casting is great and they’re all brilliant in it. I can’t imagine the characters now without seeing Simona, Tom, Eve and Robert – they have become the characters to me.”
Sarah did not know any of these characters. Louise (Simona) or Adele (Eve Hewson), may have been based on elements Sarah knows, or even her own. Sarah claims she loves Scotsmen so David (played by Tom Bateman) is Scottish.
I’m not going to spoil the ending by giving away any clues. There are no untied ends. It all makes sense. You aren't left wondering what will happen or having to create your own ending.
Do you prefer to read the book before watching the Netflix series? You can also binge-watch Netflix, which will allow you to take your time and read every detail about the story, characters, as well as the shocking ending.
You have the freedom to choose!