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

Thursday, 11 October 2018

 I'm delighted to announce the re-release of my 'Samantha Willerby Mystery Series' 
with new covers and at a bargain price:



If you missed them first time around, you can grab both NOW for 99p/99c each!
(limited period at bargain price)

Inside the Whispers - OUT NOW!
Lost in the Lake - released 24 October (pre-order now)

Both these titles lead up to the launch of my BRAND NEW thriller:

PERFECT BONES

 
Launching 8 November. More details on the new book soon...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

  •  Nearly half-a-million books 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

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Exclusive Preview Interview on her forthcoming NEW Novel - with Claire Kendal, author of The Book of You


I first came across Claire Kendal's writing in 2015 when I read The Book of You and thought it was brilliant. Not surprisingly, it was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and Richard & Judy pick. You can read my book review, HERE - personally it is one of the creepiest psychological thrillers I have ever read. The review tells you why.

As an avid admirer of Claire's writing talent (to the point of profound envy!), I was over the moon when she very kindly agreed to let me fire my own personal questions at her about her writing process and her forthcoming new novel! 


And for those of you who are new to Claire's books, her second novel, The Second Sister happens to be in a Kindle SALE right now, for the price of only 99p/99c.  Grab it now HERE, while you can!

Without further ado, I'm very excited to present our interview:

1. First of all, just give us a glimpse into your eagerly anticipated new novel:

I have just given my editors the first full draft of my next novel, which is called I Spy and is publishing in 2019. It’s about a woman who wants to be a spy, fails to be a spy, but then gets recruited to be a spy. The catch is they want her to spy on her boyfriend, who has a missing first wife. And who, though extremely charismatic, has a very dark side. When my heroine, Holly, is asked to do this, her handler doesn’t realise that Holly is in the early stages of a pregnancy with this man. It isn’t a spoiler for me to say that the reader learns early on that something has gone spectacularly wrong with all this, and Holly has had to run away and start a new life under a new identity.

2. One of the aspects of your writing I admire is the way you avoid genre formulas and especially avoid ‘melodramatic’ writing. Nevertheless, you seem to reach a depth of foreboding and terror for your characters (and therefore the reader!) that is rare in other thriller authors. I imagine it takes considerable courage for a private and sensitive person to dig so deeply into murky psychological territory – can you explain a little about how you do this?

You have been very thoughtful and generous about my writing. Thank you, Alison – your questions are lovely and I really appreciate how specific they are. I will do my best to answer this one.

I tend to start with a feeling or experience that is familiar to me and therefore I hope will be one that others will care about too. The next thing I do is to imagine that situation at extremity, to envisage it at its very worst. In I Spy, I was thinking about the boundaries between intimacy and intrusion, and the ways in which our surveillance culture has made these borders more permeable and dangerous. At the same time, I was just so powerfully interested in thinking about what it is like to be a spy, what the personal costs are to relationships and to identity, and what it means to be forced to walk away from your life as you know it.

There’s an element of fantasy in this, but of deep fear, too. I was thinking especially about the stories in the news concerning undercover police officers who ended up having children with the women they were spying on. These officers – at least in the stories I’ve read – have all been men. In a few cases, these officers suddenly disappeared out of the lives of the new families they’d made in the course of spying, leaving their partners (who were also their targets) and children in uncertainty and despair. I started to wonder what the story would look like if a woman became a spy like this.

In terms of your point about murky psychological territory, something happened with I Spy that hasn’t happened to me before. With my previous two novels, I dealt with very troubling subject matter but didn’t actually get upset until after I finished – that was when I had a few weeks of a kind of emotional exhaustion. With I Spy, this happened throughout the writing. Though I was addicted to getting the story out, drawn to it the instant I woke up and not wanting to stop for sleep, I did weep while writing some of the scenes. I had to do a great deal of research, because the material is so sensitive that I was really nervous about doing it justice. The whole time I was writing, I felt extreme levels of responsibility – probably more than I ever felt before – to deal with the subject matter truthfully and realistically, as far as I was able.

Touching on what you say about genre, one really important thing to me is that while my novels have been described as psychological thrillers or domestic noir, and I think these terms are accurate to what my books do, I also see my books as realist novels. In the case of I Spy there is a bit of spy thriller thrown into the mix, too, though I have made this element much more intimate than is typical. This point leads really well to your next question…

3. You stated in interview that you don’t set out to write ‘suspense’, yet you create scenes full of immediacy, realism and urgency. Where have you gleaned the technical skills for putting together a ‘psychological thriller’?

This is a very kind thing to say. I tend to look to novels I love and admire, novels that have obsessed me, to try to teach myself these skills. I always think that other novels are the best guides for writers. The plot of I Spy owes something to Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which has two time frames and utilises the diary form to tell the story. Bronte’s novel is filled with the elements of the spy story and psychological thriller that are integral to my own, but it’s also a realist novel about domestic abuse. One way of summarising the plot of I Spy – and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – is this. A woman is forced to conceal her identity in a world where she is closely watched and monitored, and in turn needs to watch and monitor others, all the while trying to protect her child.

Some of my favourite novels utilise forms that have an inherent immediacy and urgency, such as letters or journals. These can have such force when describing events that are dramatic and dangerous. It may also be worth mentioning that when I first started trying (secretly!) to write novels, I was an English academic and literary critic, so I spent many years as a would-be maker of books who was trained to a fairly high degree in close reading. I was tearing apart novels not just to write scholarly articles, which was what I supposed to do in my job, but also because I wanted to learn how to tell my own stories, which was a private motive of my own.

4. Are the titles of the books your own? Did they have other titles when you were working on them?

My three novels had very different paths to their respective titles.

In The Book of You, Clarissa, my heroine, has this to say. ‘Every story has a true name. I wish this story’s name could be different, but nothing can change it. This story is The Book of You.’ My agent’s assistant, Pippa, found this sentence, and said, ‘Here is the title. It was there all along.’ The Book of You was originally called The Drying Room, but I think The Book of You is the perfect and only title for that novel, and Pippa is a genius. The title was there from the start, but wasn’t discovered until the end. I wrote the words ‘The Book of You’ but it took someone else to see them.

The Second Sister didn’t have a title until after it was finished and in production. My first idea was to call it Eyes Like Yours, but there were concerns that perhaps this didn’t tell the reader clearly enough what the novel was about. We considered The Good Sister, which my agent also loved, but then we learned that my Canadian publisher was bringing out another novel with that title around the same time. There isn’t a copyright on titles, but it didn’t seem right to use it. So I started to think of another alternative. The weird thing is, I said to my husband, ‘What about The Second Sister?’ A few minutes later, my editor sent me an email – and she had written The Second Sister in a list of about five possibilities.

I Spy is the first novel that had its title before I even started writing. My agent and I were talking about my early ideas for the story. During that conversation, he said, ‘How about I Spy?’ I instantly, deeply loved it, and knew it was right. With every word, it has grown more so. It is definitely that novel’s true name, to steal Clarissa’s phrase, and I am very excited about it.

5. The world of publishing has changed enormously in the last ten years with publishing houses no longer ‘keeping’ authors for life. How do you feel about the expectation for authors to promote their own books and present an online ‘platform’ for their readers?

I never had any expectation of a publisher keeping me for life – I was amazed to publish a novel at all, given that I had already written several which hadn’t got anywhere. So I hope it makes sense that for me, each published novel seems like a miraculous bonus, a real gift.

For the other part of your question, I’m not sure how good I am at self-promotion. It doesn’t come naturally to me – I’m actually quite shy and private. But I am also extremely grateful for everything the publishers do to support my writing, and I try my serious best to contribute to that. I see it as a professional responsibility and one that I am privileged to have.

The best thing about social media is the contact with readers that it brings – I love it when readers get in touch with me that way, and I have had some very moving messages. The individual conversations I get to have are what makes sense of social media for me. I wish I were better at initiating posts, though. Maybe in time…

6. Can you share a little of your writing process – such as how you structure your day when you’re in the thick of a first draft?
I started I Spy in Cornwall, because the novel is partly set there and I wanted to immerse myself in the location. I went away for seventeen days, and just walked and walked and wrote and wrote. It was a kind of do-it-yourself writer’s retreat and research trip. It gave me a huge boost to get I Spy going, and was one of the only periods of my life where I had the luxury of doing nothing but writing from the minute I woke until I went to sleep. It was one of the most special things I’ve done, and in a part of the world that I deeply love. But of course I couldn’t stay in Cornwall forever.

So here is a much more typical writing day for when I’m in the thick of a first draft. I get up early to go to the gym, and watch a film or box set while I’m on the cross-trainer (this distracts me from the fact that I am exercising!) – if I don’t do this I end up feeling stiff and cross. I swoop home to pick up the children and take them to school. I spend a few hours or the whole day on a selection of the following things, and sometimes on all of them – reading student work, answering university emails, going to meetings, having tutorials with my students, dealing with admin. I eat with my family (my husband and I alternate shopping and cooking weeks) and help with homework and the other things the children need. Then I write write write until late at night and I am too tired to write any more. What isn’t on this list is cleaning – I live in a very messy house.

Bite-sized questions:

Can you share two ‘golden keepsakes’ – two special mementoes in your home that you’ve kept for a particular reason?

1) Two companion drawings that my grandmother made of my sister and me when we were very little girls, and another she did of my brother. (This is technically three keepsakes, but I think of them as a single set!)

2) The baby and toddler clothes I sewed for my daughters.

What are your three favourite items of clothing?

All three are associated with special times in my life.

1) An old maternity dress – now washed so many times it has holes in it – made of cream-coloured cotton and printed with pale gold wildflowers. I wore it more than anything else during my first pregnancy.

2) A dress of midnight blue silk that I wore to the launch for The Book of You.

3) My wedding dress, a floaty tent worn when I was seven-and-a-half months pregnant with twins and chosen that morning because it was the only pretty thing in my wardrobe that fit me.

Thank you to Claire for a truly insightful and inspirational interview.

You can follow Claire Kendal on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

All books can be read in any order 
(including Inside the Whispers (Bk 1) and Lost in the Lake (Bk 2) which are also in a series)
  •  Over 450,000 books 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