Friday, 10 July 2015

Dark Place to Hide - Blurb Reveal & Interview

Dark Place to Hide – so...What’s the Story?

Last week we had the cover reveal – now it’s time to show you the jacket blurb.
Don’t forget – it’s out in ebook and paperback on 30th July!
Ebook available now to pre-order HERE!

Jacket Blurb

She’s trying to tell you – if only you’d listen…

About to break the news to his wife, Diane, that he’s infertile, criminology expert, Harper Penn, gets a call to say she’s been rushed to hospital with a miscarriage. Five days later, when Diane fails to return from the village shop, police think she must have taken off with a secret lover, but Harper is convinced the online messages are not from her. 

In the same Hampshire village, plucky seven-year-old Clara has retreated into a make-believe world after an accident. Then she, too, goes missing.

As Harper sets out on a desperate quest to find them both, he has no idea what he’s up against. Could the threat be closer than he thinks? And is there a hidden message in Clara’s fairy tales?

DARK PLACE TO HIDE is a chilling psychological mystery with a cold-blooded deviant lurking at the core.
Author, Sara Atkins in Conversation with AJ Waines about her third novel, Dark Place to Hide.

Where did the inspiration for Dark Place to Hide come from?

When I was starting to plot the novel, I’d just read a wonderful book by Claire King,
The Night Rainbow, about a young child struggling to grow up when no one takes much notice of her. In  Dark Place to Hide, I wanted to involve a child in different circumstances. For my sub-plot, I chose a plucky seven-year-old tomboy, Clara, who retreats into the world of fairy-tales – and no one is sure why. Then she disappears. 
After that, I needed to consider my main plot. Like my two earlier books, I wanted two deep mysteries running through seemingly unrelated stories. Most psychological thrillers have a female in the central role, but instead I wanted a male to narrate the story, so we can see heartbreak and vulnerability from his point of view. So centre stage comes criminologist, Harper Penn, who is devoted to his wife in a relationship that seems rock-solid. Except he has a secret. Then something devastating happens that makes him question everything – and his wife disappears. Harper has to try to piece everything together – desperate to find those who are missing - while the clock is ticking…

Secrets play a large role in Dark Place to Hide. Under what circumstances is keeping a secret acceptable?

I love secrets; most of us are hiding something, whether it’s as simple as a bad habit or as serious as a crime. As a psychotherapist, I was privileged to see inside the private worlds of many of my clients and was fascinated by the kinds of secrets people keep for years. It all comes down to motive. Are you keeping a secret because you want to protect someone else, or yourself? Is it shameful? Has it evolved into a lie? In Dark Place to Hide an initial secret leads to questions about trust, fidelity and betrayal.

Did you enjoy writing about the seven-year-old girl, Clara?

Clara’s voice came to me very early and I could picture her with long blonde hair, wearing an alice band and a cheeky grin. She was a delight to write about and came fairly fully formed into my mind – a little girl who loves freedom and draws sandals on her feet, so she doesn’t have to wear them. I used my therapy background to explore the ways in which children react to trauma and found a way for her to retreat into a particular fairy-tale to escape her fears. I love the way there are hints in her conversations about what is really going on for her – but no one is paying any attention – they are so used to her being ‘away with the fairies’. Eventually, Harper realises the significance and starts to pick up the clues.

Harper’s wife goes missing very early in the story, so how did you manage to bring her to life in the narrative, so that we care about her?

Diane has a ‘presence’ throughout the story and I decided to use first and second person narrative for Harper, so that right at the start, he’s addressing Diane – as ‘you’. When she goes missing, he recalls their life together, their move from London to a small village in Hampshire, the special, loveable details about her. In this way, we get to see a picture of Diane through his eyes, but also of Harper’s feelings for her as they bend and shift when, over time, facts about her disappearance emerge. There are also scenes which flash back to the past featuring Diane, so we get a sense of who she is without Harper’s rose-tinted glasses. Then, about half way through, something unexpected happens involving Diane, in terms of the structure of the novel – but I can’t give this away!

You started getting books published quite late in life? Did you always want to be a writer?

I think on one very subliminal level, I did. An editor friend of mine reminded me that I used to fill exercise books with Enid Blyton-style stories when I was about nine or ten. Most of my early years, however, were focused on music; I started the piano when I was four (and couldn’t reach the pedals), and the cello at aged nine. 

I studied music at Music College and University and went on to play the cello professionally in my twenties, but I realised I wasn’t quite good enough to join one of the top orchestras and I floundered for a while. I did admin jobs, then became a Psychotherapist which took up another fifteen years. I’ve always enjoyed writing essays and I had two self-help books published during that time. I also wrote motivational features for Slimming World magazine.

I’d always thought writing a novel was beyond me and that ‘authors’ were very special and talented individuals! It was only when I read Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’ in 2008 and started a short story that things developed. I went beyond the word-count he suggested, because I wanted to know what happened next. That first novel was therefore not plotted – a real make-it-up-as-you-go-along situation, but it got me a top crime-writing agent – and everything took off from there. I never dreamt I’d be published abroad and get to the top of the ebook charts. In the first six months of this year, I had sales of 30,000 books, which leaves me totally stunned!
You can pre-order the ebook HERE
Coming next on this blog - details of my Blog Tour and Giveaways – so if you want updates, just follow the blog! (sign up on the left or go to

Please CLICK TO TWEET to share or use the buttons.

  •  Girl on a Train also became a Number One Bestseller in the entire Kindle Chart in Australia (2015)
  •  Awarded Amazon KDP All-Star Bonus for being a Top 100 most-read Author in UK (2015)

Find AJ Waines at: 
Blog Newsletter  *  Website  *  Twitter  * Facebook  *  Pinterest  * Goodreads  * Google+