Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Exclusive Chat with Mel Sherratt!

Mel Sherratt is one busy, successful lady and I'm delighted she's joined me as a Guest on my Blog! Her new gritty thriller Follow the Leader came out last week and has already shot up the Kindle charts.

 About the Author:

Mel Sherratt’s previous profession as housing officer for the local authority has inspired many of her experiences. She has been writing novels for twelve years, including popular women’s fiction under a pen name.  Mel mainly writes crime, psychological thrillers and suspense – or grit-lit, as she likes to call it.

Her d├ębut crime thriller, Taunting the Dead, shot to the top 10 on the Amazon Kindle chart. It has been No.1 in police procedurals, No.1 in mysteries and No.1 in thrillers, staying in the top 10 for four weeks. Mel is now published by Amazon Publishing’s crime and thriller imprint Thomas & Mercer both in the UK and United States.

Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, her inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes.

Here's the Story:
A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a magnetic letter in the shape of an E. Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing.

As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert. The race is on. Allie and the team must work quickly to determine where the killer will strike next. The rules are simple but deadly—to catch the killer, they must follow the leader.

From the acclaimed author of Taunting the Dead comes a flesh-creeping tale of a child's game with a terrifying, grown-up twist. This is the second book in the DS Allie Shenton series but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story.

Now over to Mel:

1.           Who is your favourite character in Follow the Leader and why?
As part of a series, I suppose I should say the main character - DS Allie Shenton. She’s emotional, kick ass and determined. But really I want to say that I had fun with a guy called Patrick. It was a weird feeling to get under the skin of a serial killer, even if a fictional one. I wanted to ensure that as well as being shocked by what he does readers felt a bit of empathy for him. By layering in his backstory, you get to know exactly why he acts like he does. A few early readers have said they felt sorry for him, even though what he was doing was so wrong.

2.                  What alternative title did you consider?
I’ve had alternative titles for every other book but for this one, as it’s very much based around bullying, I wanted a child’s game if possible. The killer leaves clues in the form of magnetic letters, one step ahead of the police. So I Googled a list and Follow the Leader was perfect.

3.                  What's the nicest thing anyone has said about the book?
It’s only been on general release for a week now, so it’s early days, but I’ve had some great feedback. One of the nicest things so far is ‘I have mixed feelings about knowing whodunit right from the start, but in this case the author has dealt with the “I know something you don’t know” method so skillfully that the tension racked up relentlessly throughout the book.’

4.                  What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
I love the first draft stage – where anything is possible as I get to know the characters I’ve created more as each day passes. I start with a beginning, middle and end for most sub-plots and off I go. After 30,000 words I stop to assess what I’ve done, regroup and from then it’s straight through until The End. For me, that’s when the hard work begins. 

5.                  Which novel do you wish you’d written?

Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes. I just loved everything about it (me, too! blog host's comment!)

6.                  Can you list 3 of your favourite reads, this year?

I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh 
The Life You Left Behind – Colette McBeth
Disclaimer – Renee Knight

7.                  In the reviews and feedback you’ve had for the book – what has surprised you most?
How much people have been talking about their school days, playground games and bullying – and how it’s possible that things happening early in our lives may affect us for years to come.

8.                  What are you working on now?
I’m 30,000 words into the next DS Allie Shenton book, which is book 4, and I’m at that looking back and planning stage before I start again. Book 3, Only the Brave, is out in May this year too.

9.                  Which authors would you invite over for dinner to get to know better?
That’s a really tricky one. Being a crime writer for a few years now, I know so many authors that I think I’d have to have a big party instead. Every time I go to a festival or meet-up, there’s never enough time to spend with each one, so maybe a long weekend… Plus, imagine the murderous looks if I missed someone out!

10.              Which one question would you want to make sure you asked them?
I let myself in for that one by having a party instead of a dinner, but I do have the perfect answer … do you need your glass topping up?

A big thanks to Mel for sharing her writing secrets with us!
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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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