Something a little different today … Here’s an interview I did with the awesomely prolific Rachel Amphlett, author of the Kay Hunter Series (amongst others!). Make sure you check her books out. Over to you, Rachel!
1) Like me, you’re a huge fan of thrillers. What attracted you to writing in the crime/thriller genre? Was there a particular author that inspired you to do so?
I’ve always enjoyed crime, mystery and thriller; I’d even written a book about writing and selling Thriller screenplays! But I’d never thought about writing my own until I read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I was blown away by Amy Dunne: she’s such an appalling, wicked person. I loved that; it’s so rare to find a female antagonist who is so self-serving as that … AND she gets away with it!! I was also struck by the set up; the fact it was a domestic situation, rather than a police procedural. It was like a million lightbulbs flashed ON in my head. I very consciously thought, ‘I want to write books like THIS!’ Books about relationships gone wrong; the seedy underbelly of life; the dark side of human nature.
2) What sort of research did you undertake for your latest novel, The Other Twin?
Most of the research came from what I already knew, especially in terms of the social media and blogging world, but also the LGBT community who have always welcomed me with open arms. It was more a question of matching my existing interests and experiences with a story in that sense. However, a small plot point in the book revolves around Black hair, particularly hair relaxants. I did a lot of research for this, as I was very anxious not to get this wrong as a white writer. I read a lot about it, obviously plus I talked to a lot of Black women about their own trials and tribulations in relaxing their hair. I was struck by how many had similar feelings and experiences about the process. This is in turn helped inform the ‘how and why’ of the character’s experience in the story.
3) The effects that social media can have on lives is becoming increasingly apparent, and this is something you cover in The Other Twin – what were the most startling discoveries you made during the research for your book?
I think the most striking thing I noticed during my research is how different those under 25 view social media. They’ve grown up in the digital age and view privacy and the internet completely differently, using it in a much more integral yet moderate way than we do (if that sounds like a paradox, it’s because it is!). Those over 25 frequently see social media as a bad thing, always focusing on all the negatives – cyber-bullying, trolling, stalking, flaming etc. We may talk about the dangers of the web and how kids may be too naïve to understand what they are. Yet younger people see the internet as part of their normal lives and for the most part use it accordingly, in a very sensible way. Much more sensible than a lot of older users, in fact! Young people seem to get the need for ‘holding back online’ instinctively in a way older people don’t. I was particularly impressed when I discovered ‘FINSTERGRAM’: these are young people’s ‘fake Instagram’ accounts. They use Finstergram to talk about and post things they know would get them hassle (for whatever reason) from ‘real life’ people like family and friends. This avoids not only real life arguments and drama, but keeps them safe online as they will use pseudonyms too.
4) What does your writing space look like? Do you have any pre-writing rituals to get you “in the zone”?
My writing space is the box room. I have all the usual things in here with me: a printer, desk, plus two shelves of books, a gazillion papers and at the moment, a fridge because it won’t fit anywhere else (unfortunately it is not plugged in!!!). It’s a very utilitarian space, but I do have some cool posters now and a collection of mobiles with hearts and bells on hanging from the ceiling. Because WHY NOT.
5) How do you structure a typical day to ensure you avoid distractions and hit your own word count targets on top of all the other commitments you have with a busy family life and running your popular Bang2write business?
I’m struggling to answer this one, as there’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ day for me, to be honest. I also binge write my novels, so don’t tend to have a daily word count – though when I am writing or editing them, I aim for at least 1500-2000 a day.
Generally speaking though, I do the school run then come back about 9am. I’ll do admin tasks like emails, scheduling blogs, etc until about half ten. After that, I’m either reading screenplays or writing posts etc until 3pm when I have to do the school run again. 4pm til about 6pm I’m usually doing phone calls and emails whilst making the dinner and stopping the children from killing each other! It’s full on in this house!
6) We all occasionally hit a brick wall with our creative endeavours – what do you do to overcome any stumbling blocks?
When I get stuck or want to learn a new skill, I scrapbook. I get some nice stationery and highlighters and go looking for tips or ideas. I’ll read articles and take notes; I will download worksheets from sites and fill them in; I’ll identify and interview people who have done what I want to; I’ll visit museums and villages and towns; I’ll read novels with concepts *like* mine and identify what makes them great, or what left me wanting more. In other words, I immerse myself in the genre or idea or whatever until I unlock the frozen part of my brain.
7) What have you got planned for 2018?
More novels, more blogs, more courses and workshops!
8) Finally, where can we buy your books and keep in touch with you?
The Other Twin is available at all good book stores via paperback and ebook. It’s online via Amazon; Orenda Books also has it on their site too. You can find me online at my website, www.lucyvhayauthor.com, also @LucyVHayAuthor on both Instagram and Twitter, plus you can LIKE my Facebook page too.