1) So, who are you & what have you written?
My name is Sarah Pinborough and I’ve written over 20 novels. My most recent are the YA thriller, 13 Minutes, which just sold to Netflix, and Behind Her Eyes, a psychological thriller (HarperFiction UK/ Flatiron US, Jan 2017) You can find me at sarahpinborough.com or @sarahpinborough on Twitter.
2) Why do you write crime fiction?
I like the puzzle box nature of thrillers, but other than the Dog-Faced Gods trilogy (dystopian crime trilogy) I don’t tend to write police procedural. I really enjoy the unease and claustrophobic tone of Hitchcock and although I love a great twist, I’m far more interested in the human motivations than the police detective work. Plus, there’s way less research if you leave the police out of your crimes 😉
3) What informs your crime writing?
Often real life cases will provide a spark of an idea, but then what evolves from that is very different. I think it’s important to change events from real cases, especially if you’re using a case where the people involved – the victim’s relatives for example – are still alive and events are recent. But so much of the best fiction is grounded in real emotion and researching real cases gives you a sold emotional heart for your story. Because you can have the tricksiest plot in the world, but if the reader doesn’t care about your characters then the plot won’t be enough to hold them. I quite like writing people who are hard to like – primarily because I think we’re all pretty hard to like under the skin. But even if your characters are bonkers or deceptive or selfish, they should always be engaging. Often, as I think is the case with most crime writers, real cases blur with a what if, and the story and the people take on something of their own.
4) What’s your usual writing routine?
I’m a morning writer. So up around seven in winter/ six in summer, and work in bed (why would you work anywhere else at that time of day!) for a couple of hours. I’m a big planner so if I’m just writing up from detailed notes then I can get a couple of thousand words done in that time. Later I’ll sketch out the next morning’s work or do some planning, or work on something else entirely. I used to be regimented about word counts but not any more. The thinking time is so important. The most important part. Some days might be entirely brainstorming where things should go, what should happen next, what’s not working, and if I come out of those days, with one diamond thought, that’s a good day’s work. Too many people get too excited about having done X or Y amount of words.
5) Which crime book do you wish YOU’D written, and why?
Oh god, that’s a difficult question! Whatever I write I’ll get away from the computer and think, Why did I say that and not this? And what about this other one? 😉 Silence of the Lambs I think. Well, I guess technically Red Dragon. I love those stories and it must be wonderful to have created such and iconic villain.