Monday, 14 January 2019

Book-Deal signed in 12 hours and other News!

I love the beginning of the year. I can't wait to take down the festive decorations with Christmas behind us and clear the decks. No more presents, mince pies, terrible nostalgic television programmes. No more tinsel, bits of glitter on the carpet and Quality Street.


I'm not a misery guts at Christmas, (honestly!) but like many, I'm always relieved when it's over. When I can restore the house to how it should be and turn my energies to what's next. As a former psychotherapist, I have a profound interest in renewal, fresh starts and reinvention. There's a point on New Years Eve, just as Big Ben is about to bong, when you can take a breath in, one year, and breathe it out in the next! What a thought! That idea sends tingles up my spine.

With thoughts about new directions at the forefront of my mind, I thought I'd share a snapshot of what I'm working towards in 2019! But first, I need to backtrack a few months...

In October and November, my three Samantha Willerby Mystery Series books (two re-launches and one brand new novel) were released within the space of four weeks. It was a huge amount of work and I was absolutely shattered afterwards. I'm so grateful to my publishers, Bloodhound Books, for terrific new covers and for getting it all together on time. During the same period, I was polishing the first draft of my next novel, a standalone psychological thriller.



As many of you who follow me on social media will know, my husband and I took in an elderly and poorly cat in October. She'd been abandoned and left starving on the streets where my sister-in-law lives. We spent several turbulent weeks going back and forth to the vet wondering if she'd make it. I'm pleased to say Lucy is doing really well, as I write this.

Little Miss Lucy looking adorable

In November, I spent several days caught up in selection for jury service (thankfully, with the help of my publisher, the judge excused me on the grounds of being a self-employed author), then I was badly bitten by a local Tomcat (trying to protect Lucy in a fight), which sent me to hospital and my local GP several times, as my hand was infected. 


Aside from not being able to type, the antibiotics and painkillers made me feel sick and disoriented; they also sent my taste buds all over the place (couldn't face tea or coffee anymore - wine was okay!) Christmas came as a much needed break - but I also had my draft to finish. As a result I worked on it on Christmas Day and every day during the holidays, in fact. No complaints from me, I should say. My husband was pleased too, as it kept me out of his kitchen.

I LOVED working on it and finished it yesterday.

I told my publisher about it and within twelve-hours, we signed a two-book deal for the new standalone and 'book four' in the Sam Series! I couldn't be more thrilled. With so many horror stories flying around at the moment: publishers dropping big name authors, publishers demanding that authors shift genre altogether - I'm incredibly grateful for a publisher who is happy to take my books as they are. Such a relief, especially as in the past, I've had a lot of professional pressure to write 'something different', 'something better', even 'something without the psychological stuff'. Ahem... given that fifteen years' experience as a psychotherapist is my USP, that wasn't too encouraging!


So, right now, my new thriller has been sent off to my beta-readers for their feedback on the plot. And I'm beavering away gathering ideas for Sam book four. That will be my 10th novel to be published. I haven't written a word of it yet, but it's already started to bubble away in my brain. I'm looking forward to getting together with Sam and Miranda again, to see how their turbulent relationship pans out and also to catch up with Sam's love life. Will Terry turn out to be the man of her dreams in book four? And what terrifying scrapes will Sam get herself into this time, I wonder?

So, that's where 2019 is heading for me! I wanted to say a big 'thank you' to everyone who has left lovely comments about my books on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and through my Newsletter. Lots of readers say they can't wait to get hold of the next in the series and that is extremely heartening. It makes such a difference to know there are people out there waiting to read the next books I write. I will put my heart and soul into them, I promise.

Wishing everyone a Healthy, Happy and Peaceful 2019!

The new thriller is due for release end June, 2019
Join my Newsletter for updates!

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AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Mini Book Review: The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan

Sometimes, I need a break from reading thrillers and dark mysteries. Here's my antidote to the  twisted and chilling underworld of crime I usually read and write about!

The Keeper of Lost Things The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A joyful, feel-good story with unusual non-heroic characters. There's a tender, bittersweet storyline about collecting and returning lost random items: umbrellas, hair clips, buttons. Each item has its own little story and there's a second entirely separate thread which comes together, poignantly, with the first, at the end.

I love the writing style; gentle, thoughtful, unusual and exquisite! I spread my reading of this beautiful book out so that every day, I looked forward to re-entering the world of lost things as a refuge from everyday life! Completely transporting.

View all my reviews

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Saturday, 24 November 2018

How Working in a Safe-House helped me write Thrillers

I can honestly say that when it comes to personal experience of the ‘criminal mind’, fact, for me, is just as chilling as fiction. That’s because before I became an author, I'd been a psychotherapist for fifteen years, working from time to time in a safe-house for ex-offenders. The residents were from high-security institutions; women who had served sentences for arson, stabbings, suffocating and all manner of fatal attacks.


Since then, I’ve been transforming my hair-raising experiences into psychological thrillers and my latest, Perfect Bones, was released by Bloodhound Books on November 8th. It’s my eighth thriller and I’m delighted to say I’ve now sold nearly half-a-million books worldwide.

So, how has your writing been influenced by working at the safe-house?

Surprisingly, I came away from my encounters with these women feeling more sad, than disturbed. The women had grown up with stabbings, shootings and muggings; they knew no other kind of life. Most had a fragile personality-type, were easily led and got involved with criminal activity because their brothers/sister/mothers lived that life too. Often anti-establishment, they were seeking leadership, gang-culture, excitement and risk-taking. More often than not, they were simply looking for a sense of “family” and belonging.


Since working in the safe-house, I’m inclined to cast women rather than men as the culprits in my books, but they’re never ‘monsters’. While I write about killers and serial killers, they aren’t thugs or callous maniacs. There’s very little violence and gore in my books and far more about harrowing mind-games and dark, driven motives behind the radical acts involved. I’m also fascinated by the differences between law-abiding citizens and those who cross the line into serious crime. I love writing about characters' inner struggle for revenge, their tortured reasons for keeping secrets and telling lies! As a result of all this, I hope my books show a good degree of humanity.

How ‘safe’ was it?

The ‘safe-house’ wasn’t necessarily safe for everyone! During one of my visits, a woman set fire to her room and others self-harmed, as cooking knives and personal property was available as part of the rehabilitation process. Most residents were on antipsychotic medication or drugs for anxiety or depression, so mood-swings was an issue.


The location and confidentiality was very strict, as you can imagine – a place for the women to re-adjust to the idea of integrating back into society. I was there to offer a listening ear for personal problems and fears of going back ‘outside’.

Spending time in that volatile setting was tough, but it gave me lots of raw material to slip into my novels!  

Tell us about your new thriller!

In Perfect Bones, the sole witness to a gruesome attack – a teenage artist living on a narrowboat – is traumatised and can't utter a word. That’s when gutsy protagonist, psychologist Samantha Willerby, is given seven days by the police to coax information from him about the killer. When he finally makes a sketch, it's not what anyone expects – but by then another murder has been committed...


One of the techniques I used in the safe-house was art therapy and in the novel this method is used for the mute witness. The reader has to watch and wait for the artist to show what he saw.

I was deeply affected by the individuals I met in the safe-house and still wonder what happened to them and how their lives turned out. Did they re-offend and end up back inside? Did they turn their lives around? As an author, I like to pose the question ‘how would you react in this tricky situation?’ just as, when I think of those women, I wonder how I would have turned out if I’d had their dysfunctional backgrounds, violent environment and deprivation to cope with.

Perfect Bones is available at all Amazon outlets.

This interview was first published on the Crime Readers' Association website.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Thursday, 8 November 2018

BRAND NEW: Perfect Bones is OUT Today!


‘Oh my gosh! One of the very best psychological stories I have read. 5 stars’
Carol, Goodreads reviewer
 

 

(ebook 99p/99c on Amazon for short period)
Also from Amazon in paperback - or order from Waterstones, Barnes & Noble
 

PERFECT BONES:

The Hunt for a serial killer on the Regent's Canal


Is the killer on the loose…or standing right beside you?

When art student, Aiden Blake, witnesses a gruesome attack on a London towpath, the police need him to identify the assailant without delay. But there’s a problem: refusing to leave his canal boat and traumatised by the shock, Aiden is rendered mute by the horror of the event and can’t speak to anyone.

In a desperate bid to gain vital information before Aiden’s memories fade, The Met call in Clinical Psychologist and trauma expert, Dr Samantha Willerby, giving her only seven days to get a result. When Aiden finally starts to communicate through his art, however, the images he produces are not what anyone expects and before Sam can make sense of them, another murder takes place.

With her professional skills stretched to the limit and the clock ticking, Sam strives to track down a killer who is as clever as she is – someone who always manages to stay one step ahead.

A Samantha Willerby Mystery, Perfect Bones is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Psychological Thriller that will leave you glancing over your shoulder. It can easily be read as a stand-alone novel and will appeal to fans of authors like Ruth Ware, Clare Mackintosh and C.L. Taylor.


What Readers are saying about Perfect Bones:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author
  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Sunday, 4 November 2018

NEW! Perfect Bones - Writing Thrillers: The character who doesn't speak...

New Psychological Thriller

COMING NOVEMBER  8th



Pre-Order HERE (99p/99c for short period)

The Low-Down

In Perfect Bones, one of the key characters, Aiden Blake, a sensitive young artist, can't utter a word. Having witnessed a horrific attack near his canal boat, he's so traumatised he's rendered mute. But there's a bigger problem - he's the sole witness. 

It’s clear from the crime scene that the culprit came right up to the narrowboat where Aiden was putting out his washing. No wonder, then, that The Met are desperate for him to give them a description of the attacker.

He saw everything...


That's when psychologist and 'amateur sleuth', Samantha Willerby, is brought in. She's an expert in art therapy with traumatised patients and the police give her only seven days  - after which they believe Aiden's memories will be of no use to them.
But, not only does Aiden not speak - in the early stages of the book he’s unable to communicate at all. He’s closed down and in shock. Barely able to lift a pencil.

As a former psychotherapist, it’s second nature for me to turn to disorders and unusual patterns of behaviour when writing my thrillers! This book was quite a challenge as an author! I had to convey interactions without the usual social signals we all use every day – speech, smiles, waves, nods, shrugs, shakes of the head, for instance. I also wanted to show the frustrating impact this would have on those around Aiden – those who are desperate for information they know he can give them!

With the clock ticking, eventually Aiden does draw a picture – but it’s not what anyone expects and it throws The Met into turmoil. Furthermore, another murder has been committed by then on the same stretch of towpath. Dismissing the sketch as useless, the police drop Sam from the case, but she refuses to give up. On her own, she gets closer and closer to the truth, until she’s finally driven into the terrifying path of the killer, herself. 


Then she has to ask the million-dollar question: Is the killer on the loose…or standing right beside me?
Pre-order NOW. Out November 8 - ENJOY! 
Here's what readers are saying about Perfect Bones:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author
  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Thursday, 1 November 2018

ALL NEW! Perfect Bones - Cover Reveal & Read the Opening...



Pre-Order HERE (99p/99c for short period)
Released: November 8
THE STORY
 
Is the killer on the loose…or standing right beside you?

When art student, Aiden Blake, witnesses a gruesome attack on a London towpath, the police need him to identify the assailant without delay. But there’s a problem: refusing to leave his canal boat and traumatised by the shock, Aiden is rendered mute by the horror of the event and can’t speak to anyone.

In a desperate bid to gain vital information before Aiden’s memories fade, The Met call in Clinical Psychologist and trauma expert, Dr Samantha Willerby, giving her only seven days to get a result. When Aiden finally starts to communicate through his art, however, the images he produces are not what anyone expects and before Sam can make sense of them, another murder takes place.

With her professional skills stretched to the limit and the clock ticking, Sam strives to track down a killer who is as clever as she is – someone who always manages to stay one step ahead.

A Samantha Willerby Mystery, Perfect Bones is a tense and creepy psychological thriller that will send your pulse racing. It can easily be read as a stand-alone novel and will appeal to fans of authors like Nicci French, Mark Edwards and Lisa Gardner.

READ THE OPENING:
Perfect Bones
Prologue
 
It’s not often a journalist is offered first bite of the cherry – not on a plate like this.

Pippa French glanced over her shoulder, wondering if anyone else could feel the dynamic shift in the air. The water-cooler gurgled. Someone behind the photocopier sneezed, but no one seemed to notice the electric charge fizzing around her. No one spotted the way she tightly squeezed the receiver, nor heard the galloping thud of her heartbeat.

Her secret was safe.

He was speaking again. ‘It’s a genuine C├ęzanne and it’s been hanging in a lawyer’s front room for a decade. She’d mistaken it for a copy all this time. Make a great headline don’t you think? Interested?’

Interested? Of course she was interested! This was the real McCoy. The exclusive that could take her career to the next level.

When Mr Morino told her not to say where she was going, to keep the whole thing hush-hush, it didn’t ring any alarm bells. Pippa wasn’t listening out for them. All she heard was the velvety voice in her ear telling her what she wanted to hear.

‘You can bring your colleagues up to speed once you’ve seen the painting and have something to squeal about,’ he said. ‘We don’t want anyone else jumping the queue.’

His caution was understandable, to be expected. It was common practice for journalists to follow a lead without even telling their boss – to make sure no one else snatched the glory. Journalism is a cut-throat business. Everyone knew that.

So, she didn’t say a word to anyone.

Pippa’s follow-up checks were just as convincing as the phone call from Philippe Morino. She’d heard of the Sotherby’s expert before. One of her rivals from Art Monthly had done a piece on him. Still, she’d decided it would be better to call him back on the main Sotherby’s number just in case – she’d been scammed before by fake leads.

But by the time she’d finished her meeting with the editor, Mr Morino had left for the day. Just missed him, apparently. She checked her watch. That would add up. In his earlier call, he’d arranged to meet her at Languini’s wine bar, only a short walk away, in ten minutes time. He’d be on his way by now. There was no question in her mind. She had to follow this through, before anyone else got their hands on this exclusive.

It wasn’t difficult to slip away. Most of her colleagues had already gone home. Before she left, she wrote the time and location on a post-it note and stuck it to the computer monitor. It was just a precaution. The office operated a hot-desking system, so whoever got to the spot first in the morning would see it. Then she realised it was Friday and no one would see it until Monday. It would be a bit late by then if she’d run into trouble. She screwed it into a ball and threw it into the bin.

As she rounded the corner of the street and the green-striped awning of the bar came into view, Pippa got another call.

'Ever so sorry…change of plan,’ he said, his voice plummy and polite. ‘Much better if you come straight here. I’m sending a taxi for you. It’ll pick you up outside the wine bar any minute now.’

She slowed her step, a flicker of doubt crossing her path. It was all getting a bit cloak ’n’ dagger. Some tiny part of her knew it was too good to be true. She should turn around. Let it go. Something wasn’t right.

But she ignored the niggling voice and didn’t turn back. She was blinded by the prospect of her own personal scoop and wasn’t thinking straight. Part of her – the ambitious, tenacious, go-getting side of her – hung on to the belief that she’d struck it lucky.

But her instincts were wrong.

This was a well-coated honey trap.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author
  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Monday, 22 October 2018

Inside the Whispers - The Low-down!

99p/99c for only a few more days...
Get hold of your copy HERE!
‘If you are looking for a psychological thriller that will disturb you
and is full of pretty twisted OMFG moments, grab yourself a copy!’
(Noelle Holton, Crime Book Junkie)


Where did the inspiration for Inside the Whispers come from?

When I lived in Brixton, south London, in the 1990s, the shop below the flat, where I was fast asleep, was fire-bombed during the night and we had to get out pronto! Even though the fire didn’t cause any real damage for us, I remember how swiftly the smoke filled the bedroom and how long the smell lasted in our carpets and clothes, afterwards. The scare left a lasting impact and many years later, it became a spark (pardon the pun!) for a book. I liked the plot idea of people reporting they’d been involved in some kind of incident, in this case a fire on the London Underground, but bit by bit, it becomes clear that their stories don’t add up. After terrible disasters, there really are people who go to extreme lengths to pretend they were involved. It happened after 9/11. As a former psychotherapist, I’m intrigued by this. I'm interested in the different degrees involved in lying: white lies, withholding information, exaggerating the truth, pretence, denial, self-delusion - all the ways we deceive others (and ourselves). In Inside the Whispers, everything is not as it first appears - there’s a complex and devious conspiracy behind the choking smokescreen…

How did you go about writing the book?

The plot centres around a mysterious series of events, starting with a fire on the Tube and a handful of survivors who present for trauma therapy at a London hospital. My starting point was to draw on my own experiences working with traumatised and suicidal individuals to build a story involving my favourite subjects: secrets, deception and hidden motives! In fact, for most of the main characters in Inside the Whispers, things are not all they seem. Most of them are hiding or running away from something.

A number of questions arise for Dr Samantha Willerby, the diligent and compassionate therapist, when she starts to see that her patients’ accounts of the fire are very similar, but don’t ring true. Are they faking it? Why are they lying? When one of them commits suicide, Sam feels personally responsible. She should have seen the warning signs, shouldn't she? But before long, it dawns on her that she’s caught up in a horrific web of manipulation and foul-play.

A big twist at the end is pretty much de rigueur in psych thrillers, although my book is also a 'why' and 'how'-dun-it, as much as a 'who-dun-it'. There are twists and turns along the way, blindsiding the reader with revelations, shocks and red-herrings, as Sam gradually peels away the layers to get to the truth. I love to knock my readers sideways and there’s one final bombshell - right on the last page!

The story is based around patients with PTSD. How much of it is based on fact?

When I worked as a psychotherapist, a number of clients came to see me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and I wanted to give readers a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into that kind of work. Therapy is confidential and confessional with a 'cloak-and-dagger' aura of secrecy - I think a lot of people are curious about what actually happens!

 
One aspect that people are perhaps unaware of is ‘secondary trauma’ – when patients’ accounts are so distressing that it has a knock-on effect on the therapist, who can then internalise the details and, in turn, experience similar symptoms themselves, such as nightmares and anxiety. On one occasion, I worked with a city fire officer who suffered PTSD after his involvement in a fatal, horrific blaze and the images he described have always stayed with me. Some of these impressions have filtered through into the story (modified for fiction) which is one creative and therapeutic way of dealing with them.


Get hold of your copy HERE!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author
  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub