1) So, who are you & what have you written?
I’ve been a writer all my life, but only in 2015 did I get that elusive book deal for my novel, How to be Brave, which was a kind of emotional thriller (as my publisher called it). Before then I’d won a few prizes with my short fiction, been a newspaper columnist, had a play produced. But writing books has always been my dream.
My new novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, is a psychological thriller. It has the traditional missing things (a book, a boy and a husband) but really it’s about things that are absent on a deeper level – our identity, who we are, where we belong.
I’m working on my third, Maria in the Moon, which I’m not sure how to categorise, though a crime has certainly been committed and forms the heart of the story.
2) Why do you write crime fiction?
I’ve wandered into crime fiction quite by accident! Really, I think I write life fiction. By that I mean that I write about very real (to me anyway!) people going through very real things, and often those things involve a mystery or trauma. I really love to explore how people cope. How they respond to tragedy. Naturally, writing such stories has taken me into quite dark territory, but I believe utterly in hope, and there’s always that uplifting element to my novels.
3) What informs your crime writing?
My background does in some ways. I witnessed unpleasant things during my childhood. I experienced unpleasant things too. My mum was taken away from us for a year after an attempted suicide attempt when I was nine, so this affected me deeply. I’ve been involved in voluntary work with the Samaritans and with children in the care system, so these things naturally expose you to crime and to the difficult aspects of life. But I’m hopeful, happy and a survivor.
4) What’s your usual writing routine?
I’m a harsh disciplinarian. When I sit down to write (usually early as I’m a lark not an owl) it’s no TV, no internet, no getting up until I’ve met my own target. This is usually an amount of words or a time (writing for, let’s say, four hours). I work in a theatre evenings and weekends so I write as much as is possible during the day.
5) Which crime book do you wish YOU’D written, and why?
I absolutely loved In the Cut by Susanna Moore. It was gruesome, dark and beautifully written. She helped cement my desire to be a novelist. I also thoroughly enjoyed Cruel and Unusual by Sophie Hannah, and wish I could come up with her ingenious twists. Amanda Jennings is a gorgeous writer too, one who I’d give anything to be half as good as … I wish I’d come up with In Her Wake!