The Next Chapter

How a news story about elevator inspectors (really!) inspired Linwood Barclay's latest thriller

The acclaimed thriller writer discusses his latest novel, Elevator Pitch.
Elevator Pitch is a thriller by Linwood Barclay. (CBC/Sinisa Jolic)

Linwood Barclay is a top of his game thriller writer, with almost 20 books to his credit.

He keeps delivering suspense and plot twists. His latest book takes on ordinary modern convenience and turns it into a sinister force.

His novel is called Elevator Pitch, and his previous works include Escape

An elevating premise

"I started thinking about doing a book about elevators and a guy who was dispatching his victims by sabotaging them. I heard an item on the Toronto CBC News that the city did not have enough elevator inspectors — which is not surprising considering the millions of condos that have risen in Toronto in the last few years. When I heard that, the idea was just there instantly. What if a guy was doing this, if somebody was sabotaging elevators? 

did for showers.- Linwood Barclay

"I wish I could say that it was something that had happened to me personally — I was trapped in one and terrified for my life — but it did was just that it was on the news."

Linwood Barclay at home

The National

8 years ago
3:43
The best-selling Canadian author's crime novels are critically acclaimed around the world, yet he's little-known here at home, Deana Sumanac reports 3:43

A common fear

"People were telling me their own elevator stories and how they'd been trapped in one or this or that had happened. I discovered that elevators present an intersection of phobias, whether it's claustrophobia, a fear of heights or fear of falling, loss of control. A lot of us are just not crazy about getting into a tiny little box with 15 other people. A lot of people just absolutely don't want to go in them.

"I think I realized after having written this that I had tapped into something that was universal. We've been saying is that this book will do for elevators what Psycho did for showers."

Linwood Barclay's comments have been edited for clarity and length. 

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