Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Exclusive Chat with Nuala Casey!

I’m delighted to present an exclusive interview this week with Psychological Thriller author Nuala Casey! I was pleased to be introduced to Nuala at the Harrogate Crime Festival this year (in the beer tent - ahem), by our agent, Madeleine Milburn, where we discovered we were both born in the same area of the North East. She recognised my accent which I thought had all but disappeared, having lived in the south for 30 years!

About the Author

Nuala Casey was born in Stockton on Tees in 1979, the youngest of five children. After graduating from Durham University in 2001, Nuala moved to London to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. However, her experiences living in Soho where she chronicled the comings and goings of the people around her, took her life in a different direction.

She went on to work as a copywriter and was awarded an MA in Creative Writing. Her debut novel Soho, 4am was published by Quercus in 2013 and was described by the Huffington Post as “the London Novel revived.” Urban living and the voices of the city continue to provide inspiration for her writing. Nuala’s latest novel, Summer Lies Bleeding, was published by Quercus in August, 2014.

The Story…

Four lives are about to come crashing together...

Devastated by the murder of his sister in Soho seven years ago, Mark Davis travels to London to carry out an act of violence that he believes will avenge her death.

PhD student Stella is returning to London with her partner Paula to visit a fertility clinic. But Stella is hiding a secret that could tear their lives apart.

Recovering alcoholic Seb has left his wild days behind him. As he helps his wife prepare to launch her restaurant in Soho, he feels that his life is finally back on track. But a chance encounter with a stranger brings back tragic memories and puts his family in serious danger.

Kerstin Engel is a brilliant but troubled research analyst. Haunted by the events of 7/7 when she narrowly escaped death, she has spent the last seven years carrying out a self-imposed penance. But an unseen enemy lies in wait and threatens to destroy her career and her mind.

As crowds gather in Soho to mark the restaurant launch, a terrifying sequence of events brings these characters together and the last days of summer to a shocking end.

Over to Nuala…

1. Who is your favourite character in 'Summer Lies Bleeding' and why? 
The character closest to my heart in Summer Lies Bleeding is Kerstin. She is a brilliant young research analyst who is battling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I loved creating this character and watching as she came to life. She is such a troubled, solitary soul and she is led by her brain and her logic rather than her emotions. At many points, as I was writing her scenes, I wanted to scoop her up, give her a hug and tell her everything will be alright.

2. What's the nicest thing anyone has said about your book?
One of my favourite writers is Virginia Woolf and a lot of my writing is inspired by her novels and essays. I loved her novel, The Years, and I always intended Summer Lies Bleeding to be my own tribute to it so I was so flattered when Woolf's great-niece, the writer Henrietta Garnett described Summer Lies Bleeding as a 'remarkable translation of The Years.'

3. What alternative title did you consider?
It began with the working title of The Last Day of Summer but my publisher thought a grittier, darker title was needed to represent the dark themes of the novel. Summer Lies Bleeding is a play on words of the flower Love Lies Bleeding which is rather appropriate as flowers and horticulture are featured throughout the book.

4. What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
I love the moment when a story takes on a life of its own and you become the vessel through which all these lives and characters are flowing. I have reached that point with the novel I'm currently working on and it is so exciting. Some days I get up from my desk and feel physically spent as though I have travelled round the world and back in the course of a working day - which in many ways I have!

5. Which novel do you wish you’d written?
Mr Vertigo by Paul Auster. One of the many reasons why I love Paul Auster's writing is the strange sense of 'otherness' he creates out of seemingly mundane things. In Mr Vertigo, he describes, in precise detail, the process of teaching a young boy to fly. And you believe every word.

6. Can you list 3 of your favourite reads, this year?
The Gamal by Ciaran Collins: One of the best novels of the last five years. A masterpiece of contemporary Irish fiction
You by Caroline Kepnes: Written in the second person from a stalker to his victim. Like a rap song, the writing gathers tempo so by the end you can almost hear the narrator screaming in your ears.
Time Present and Time Past by Deirdre Madden. A meditation on time and what it is to be alive right now from one of my favourite writers.

7. In the reviews and feedback you’ve had for the book – what has surprised you most? 
 The York Press were so convinced by my depiction of Kerstin's OCD they thought I must suffer from it myself. That was surprising but also flattering as I had researched the subject and spoken to sufferers. I wanted to create as authentic a portrayal as possible. At it happens, I don't suffer from OCD but I do think all of us employ some sort of coping mechanism to deal with the pressures of modern life. And there is always the threat that these coping strategies can turn into dangerous obsessions.

8. Which authors would you invite over for dinner to get to know better?
They say you should never meet your heroes and I prefer to 'meet' the writer through the pages of a book. Having said that, it would be rather nice to chat with Paul Auster over coffee in Brooklyn.

9. What would you ask him?
If he would teach me how to fly!

Thanks, Nuala - and every success with the new book!
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

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