Sandra de Helen is a multifaceted author. Along with writing thrillers and a female-centric detective series that pays homage to Sherlock Holmes, she’s a published playwright and a poet. Her plays have been produced throughout the United States, including in New York and Chicago, as well as in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada. Learn more about Sandra and her books at her website.
My thriller Till Darkness Comes features a young woman who goes to talk therapy for the first time and has a lesbian therapist. Both these things are central to the plot, and how they communicate in their sessions demonstrates their character traits through their interactions. I realize not everyone has had sessions with a psychologist, but I think they can see what is happening, even without that background.
As for me, I've had years of therapy, on an individual basis, in couples counseling, even family and group sessions. I've had both good and bad therapists, those who followed all the ethical guidelines, and those who didn't. Everyone in the profession is human, which is important to remember when you're going to a therapist, and when you're reading my book.
Risa Rispoli, the therapist in Till Darkness Comes is fictional and is not based on anyone I've ever met. Risa comes to her job with a background that leads her to want to take care of her clients, often to her own detriment.
The protagonist, Beth Vogelsang, has had a difficult childhood and an even more difficult early adulthood. She is broken. Will Risa be able to help her? Or will Beth trigger something in Risa that sends her spinning?
In my own experience with therapy, I learned the only thing I could change was my perception. Maybe it is because I was born with an optimistic nature, but I now view the "terrible things" from my life as obstacles I had to overcome in order to become who I am today. And as a writer, I was provided plenty of fodder, or as my writing buddy used to say, "grist for the mill."
Till Darkness Comes
When Beth Vogelsang's Uncle Jerry is tortured and murdered Beth's estranged friend Regan is the first cop on the scene. Regan hopes for reconciliation, but they've led different lives. Beth has been abused, beaten, raped, and has experienced a devastating death in the family. She's also fallen in love with her lesbian therapist. Will she reunite with her friend? Or will their individual secrets keep them apart? Meanwhile, there's a serial killer on the loose, putting both their lives at risk.