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.
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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, 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