Onesumore: ‘Behind Her Eyes’ Author Sarah Pinborough Discusses Netflix Limited Series
This is a spoiler-free interview with Sarah Pinborough, the British author of the book, Behind his eyes. An adaptation of his novel was released on Netflix on the 17the February in six-part series. The book and series are currently all the rage on social media with #WTFThatEnding due to the controversial, shocking and unexpected conclusion.
Behind his eyes follows the life of a single mother, Louise, and a married couple, Adele and David. Full of twisted mind games, sexual attraction and psychological intrigue.
Here Sarah is talking to Chris Roberts MBE about how she decided on “That Ending,” what she thinks about the Netflix series, the cast of the characters, and a little bit about herself and her writing career.
Sarah is well known for having over 20 novels published in several countries; his modern tale of fairy tales; Torchwood; The Forgotten Gods Trilogy; Chronicles of Nowhere; Cross his heart; Dead for her and she also writes fantasy fiction under the pseudonym Sarah Silverwood. Sarah was also the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel and was shortlisted four times for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter, who wrote for the BBC and is currently working on three television projects and the film adaptation of her novel, The house of death.
Sarah lives in the small old market town of Stony Stratford in Buckinghamshire with her dog, Ted. She says she always wrote and that was something she knew she was relatively good at in school, sitting at the top of the class for creative writing. Although she wrote plays and short stories, she didn’t really take writing seriously until her late twenties. Sarah has written in many genres, including thrillers, fantasy, horror, and fairy tales, and claims that she is happiest when she mixes different genres. She also admits that she really enjoys scriptwriting and, obviously, novels. “I think every writer tries to make every book different,” Sarah said. “I’m currently hired to write psychological thrillers, so I have to stay in that genre. But I like to play in different genres and I like to try to weave other things into my thrillers.
Sarah’s talent cannot be limited to one genre. It’s far too complex. In Behind his eyes, she wrote about what appears to be a typical love triangle, but this triangle is anything but typical!
Sarah has now published over 20 novels in several countries and I have wondered how she begins to write a story. Does she plan it meticulously with a beginning, middle, and end? And, in the case of Behind his eyes, how and when did she decide to “That Ending”?
“There are planners and pants (flying near the seat of…),” Sarah explains. “I’m definitely a planner and I set up some key plot points before I started writing.”
Sarah says that Behind his eyes took him about eight months to write. She finds the planning always the hardest part, but she wrote the entire last chapter before she even started writing the book! “In the case of Behind his eyesI think it would have been impossible to write the book without that ending already in place. There were too many clues to sow, ”Sarah said. “So yes, the whole book was created around that end.”
There has been so much controversy over “That Ending”. Does she regret her choice to finish, I wondered? Sarah quickly confirmed: “No, absolutely not! The book speaks of this end. When the book was sold in the US market, many publishers wanted it. There were a few who wanted to change the ending or make it less shocking, but they were ignored from the start! I love the ending and it’s the ending that makes the book and the Netflix series so different. “
So, for anyone who has read the book, but yet to see the Netflix series, Sarah confirms that little of the plot has changed in the series. She went to read and was on the set for a few days which she said was a lot of fun! Left Bank (the production company behind the series) and Netflix kept her updated and were very open about their processes. She also confirms that the ending is the same in the series and the novel. “It’s a really faithful adaptation and Netflix did a really good ending. The entire Left Bank team strongly agreed with the ending and were determined not to change.
As a writer, Sarah thinks the novelist shouldn’t really have a say, because they basically handed it over to the people in TV or the movies to decide what to do with it. Sarah, therefore, had no say in the cast – it all depended on Left Bank and Netflix. She said: “The cast is excellent and they are all brilliant. I can’t imagine the characters now without seeing Simona, Tom, Eve and Robert – they became the characters for me.
None of the characters were intentionally based on people Sarah already knew. However, Louise (Simona Brown), Adele (Eve Hewson) and Rob (Robert Aramayo) may have had elements of characters that Sarah already knows or maybe even elements of herself! Sarah says she loves the Scotsmen, so David, played by Tom Bateman, is Scottish!
I’m not going to spoil the end by giving clues. What I can say is that there are no unrelated details. It all makes sense and you don’t have to guess what’s going on or have to make up your own ending.
So, should you read the book first, then watch the Netflix series? Or binge-watch the Netflix series so you can then take your time to read every compelling detail of the plot, the intricacy of the characters, and ultimately what happens in this shocking finale?
The choice is yours!