Author Interview with Crime Writer Leigh Russell

 

 

Leigh Russell image

 

 

 

About Leigh Russell

After many years teaching English in secondary school, internationally bestselling author Leigh Russell now writes crime fiction full time. Published in English and in translation in Europe, her Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson titles have appeared on many bestseller lists, including #1 on kindle. Leigh’s work has been nominated for several major awards, including the CWA New Blood Dagger and CWA Dagger in the Library, and her Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson series are in development for television with Avalon Television Ltd. Journey to Death is the first title in her Lucy Hall series published by Thomas and Mercer.

 

 

Trophy number one image golden

 

 

 

Your new book Suspicion, is out April 22. What do you enjoy about writing psychological thrillers?

What I enjoy most about writing, is the freedom to explore how other people might respond when they encounter difficulties and challenges. All of my books begin with a “What if” question. In the case of Suspicion, the question was: ‘What might a woman do to preserve her marriage, if she discovered her husband was having an affair?’ Writing psychological thrillers allows me to live someone else’s fictitious life for a while, and experience their story vicariously.

 

 

Suspicion image

 

 

How does your approach to writing differ between a psychological thriller versus a police procedural?

My police procedurals are written mainly from my detective’s point of view, but they also include chapters that take readers inside the mind of my killer and other characters. This adds tension for readers, who often know more than the police investigating the murder. My stand alone psychological thrillers are written in the first person. Although readers only know what the narrator knows, they can still deduce information for themselves. Writing in the first person focuses more closely on the character of the narrator, and his or her private thoughts and feelings, which affects the readers’ engagement with the narrative, but writing from different points of view can be more dramatic. Both types of story are fun to write, and I enjoy the challenge of switching between third person and first person narratives.

 

What motivated you to write psychological thrillers?

As a writer, I don’t believe we choose our stories. Rather, our stories find us. So when the idea for this book occurred to me one day, complete with the voice of the protagonist, all I had to do was write the story in her words – although they are my words really, because she is my creation.

 

 

share your story. Coffee mug and wooden letters on wooden background.

 

 

 

What’s a typical writing day like for you?

There is no ‘typical’ day for me. Every day is different. I wake up as late as possible, and most days my husband brings me a cup of tea in bed, by which time I’m usually already working. I write on an ipad with goes with me everywhere, so I can work anywhere. Once I am up and about, if I’m not otherwise occupied my day will be spent writing, but it is extremely rare for me to have a completely free day. Life often gets in the way of my writing, but I consider myself fortunate to have a family who place so many demands on my time. I wouldn’t change anything about my life,       except to have more hours in the day.

 

 

Tell us about the investigation that Detective Sergeant Geraldine Steel is working on in Rogue Killer.

In Rogue Killer, a rough sleeper is killed in a seemingly random attack. The killer is careful to leave no clue to his identity, and the police are stumped. Then a second body is discovered. Geraldine is worried some of her colleagues might not investigate these murders as thoroughly as they should, because the victims were homeless. Meanwhile, a young girl has run away from home and witnessed a murder at night on the streets of York. Her eye witness account  could help the police to track down the killer, but she is too frightened to come forward.

 

 

Rogue Killer image

 

 

Who is the man killed in the attack?

The man killed in the first attack is a rough sleeper who is known to the local homeless shelters, but has no family who would miss him or mourn for him. Sharing news of a murder with the victim’s family is the part of her job Geraldine usually finds the hardest, but she is desperately sad about the solitude this victim endured in his life.  

 

 

Name some of your favourite books of 2019.

I haven’t read many books published in 2019 but books I have read so far this year include the weighty Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, a tour de force which he wrote at the age of twenty-eight. Unusually, most of my reading this year has been non-fiction as I am writing a trilogy set in Renaissance Italy. Historical fiction is a completely new departure for me and it has required a lot of research into a fascinating period in history.

In terms of books actually published in 2019, I’m looking forward to reading The Testaments by Margaret Atwood which is published in September, as I enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale .

 

 

Leigh Russell image

 

 

leighrussell.co.uk

Twitter

Amazon

Bloodhound Books

 

 

 

Interview with Heleyne Hammersley Author of Psychological Suspense & Crime

 

 

Heleyne Hammersley image

 

 

About Heleyne Hammersley

Heleyne Hammersley is a British writer based in Cumbria. She writes psychological suspense thrillers and crime novels.

Heleyne has been writing since junior school – her first work was a collection of poems called ‘Give Them the Works’ when she was ten years old. The poems were carefully handwritten on plain paper and tied together with knitting wool.

 

 

How does your writing approach differ between psychological suspense thriller and crime?

One of the main differences between writing psychological suspense and crime is the amount of research.  I find that, now I’m writing a crime series, I need to try to keep the police procedures as accurate as possible.  I also research postmortem techniques and I’ve spent quite a bit of time finding out about how dead bodies decompose in different environments.

For both of my psychological suspense novels much of the plot and the setting was based on my own travel experiences.

 

 

 

Research

 

 

 

Do you still write poetry?

I haven’t written poetry for many years.  I used to write as a teenager but it was all angst-ridden nonsense really.  I feel most comfortable writing longer works now.

 

Who is DI Kate Fletcher?

Kate is a British police detective from South Yorkshire.  She is dedicated to her career and is extremely good at her job.  She was shaped by a difficult childhood during a time of social unrest in the UK.  After a divorce and a promotion she has returned to her old ‘stomping ground’ after living in the north of England for many years.  She inspires loyalty in her team and she has a strong sense of justice.

 

 

 

detective

 

 

 

What things have you learned in order to write police procedurals?

So much!  UK police ranks, UK police procedures, forensics, the symptoms of a range of medical conditions, how CCTV and ANPR work, how to dispose of a dead body (and how not to)…the list is endless.

 

 

In the third book of the Kate Fletcher series Bad Seed, who is the first victim?

Melissa Buckley.  She’s in her twenties and works for a train company.  Melissa and her husband have been trying for a baby for some time and her death may be linked to their struggles with IVF.

 

 

 

Bad Seed image Heleyne

 

 

 

Who are the members of Kate’s team working the case?

Other than Kate, there’s DC Dan Hollis who’s having some family issues of his own in Bad Seed.  He’s Kate’s trusted ‘side kick’ but she’s starting to doubt him a little in this book. DC Sam Cooper is a computer geek and Kate’s go-to team member for all things technology related.  She ends up in serious danger towards the end of the novel. DC Matt Barrett is the ‘straight arrow’ of the team. He’s extremely reliable and methodical. The final team member is DS Steve O’Connor who has links with the seedier side of Doncaster life.  They’re all supervised by DCI Bill Raymond who’s working his final cases before retirement in Bad Seed.

 

 

What do you enjoy most about writing crime fiction?

I love the plotting stage – figuring out what will and what won’t work and how a real police team would deal with my fictional crimes.  I also quite enjoy the gorier elements of the research – some of the science stuff is fascinating.

 

 

 

Plot - Gold text on black background - 3D rendered stock picture.

 

 

 

 

Who are your favorite authors?

Val McDermid, Karin Slaughter, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Patricia Cornwell….how many am I allowed?

 

What are you working on next?

I’m currently writing the fourth in the Kate Fletcher series.  After that…who knows?

 

 

DI Kate Fletcher Series

 

 

Closer to home image

 

Merciless image

 

 

Bad Seed image Heleyne

 

 

www.heleynehammersley.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with M.R. Mackenzie Author of the Anna Scavolini Thrillers

 

 

M.R. Mackenzie image

 

 

M. R. Mackenzie was born and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at Glasgow University and has a PhD in Film Studies. In 2016, he contributed a chapter on the Italian giallo film to Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion.

In addition to writing, he works as an independent Blu-ray/DVD producer and has overseen releases of films by a number of acclaimed directors, among them Dario Argento, Joe Dante and Seijun Suzuki.

His debut novel, In the Silence, reached #2 in Amazon UK’s Scottish crime fiction bestsellers chart.

 

 

In The Silence image

 

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

Interview 

 

Why did you decide to get a PhD in Film studies?

If I’m being completely honest, a major factor was that, at the time, I was in my early twenties and had very little idea as to what I hoped to do with my life. I’d just completed a Masters in Film Studies, which I’d enjoyed, and felt I had certain things to say about an obscure body of films – the Italian “giallo” thrillers of the early 1970s – which no one else was saying. One of my lecturers, who later became my thesis supervisor, encouraged me to do a PhD, which I took as a vote of confidence and duly submitted my application. In doing so, I was able to avoid the big bad world for another five and a half years, while at the same time exploring, in considerable depth, a body of films I really like. The end result was a 90,000-word doorstop that people tell me has enhanced their understanding of and enjoyment of giallo films… though I did come out the other end knowing I didn’t want to spend another minute in academia!

 

 

 

Take 1 One First Attempt Try Scene Movie Clapper Board 3d Illust

 

 

 

What was it like writing your first book?

Strangely enough, a lot like writing my PhD thesis, both in terms of overall word count and the sheer amount of time I spent on it! In the beginning, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing or if I was even capable of writing a novel, but I persevered and, over the course of several years, kept coming back to the manuscript, chipping away at it, refining it, adding layers to it… If I was doing it again today, it wouldn’t take me anything like as long – indeed, I wrote the first draft of the manuscript I recently finished in little more than two months – but at the time it was an essential learning process for me as I was effectively teaching myself how to write a novel from scratch, so there was a lot of trial and error involved.

 

 

How does your writing process differ between screenplay and manuscript?

It’s funny you should ask, because In the Silence, my first novel, actually started life as a screenplay. I wrote it very quickly: it took me somewhere between two and three weeks to go from the initial idea to a finished (albeit seriously rough) first draft – so I suppose you could say the biggest difference is time! I tend to find that there’s not actually a whole lot that separates the two mediums when it comes to the early planning stages. With both, I write copious notes and spend a long time figuring out the structure, the twists and turns, where the various act breaks occur, and then only start the actual process of drafting once I have a very thorough outline from which to work. A crucial difference, though, and one that I’ve learned to really appreciate as I’ve left scripts behind in favour of novels, is that, when you’re writing prose, you’ve got an opportunity to really get inside your characters’ heads. You’re party to their inner thoughts and emotions in a way that you’re simply not with a film. When you’re writing a script, you have to convey everything through action and dialogue, whereas, with a novel, you’re free to draw on a much broader and in my view richer toolset.

 

 

 

Safety Equipment Near Toolbox With Various Worktools

 

 

 

What did you experience writing about criminology lecturer Anna?

Writing Anna is definitely an interesting experience. In many respects, we have a lot in common, while in others we’re polar opposites – not least the fact that I’m a 6 ft 3 man while she’s a 5 ft 2 woman! She’s someone who tends to have very definite opinions about things – again, some of which I agree with, while with others I disagree with her completely. In real life, I’m not sure how well we’d get on – though I suspect I’d probably just play it safe and agree with everything she said – but I do admire her determination and tenacity… even if it sometimes gets her into trouble. Over the course of In the Silence, I take her to some very dark places indeed, and I can tell you for a fact that I don’t half as much resilience as her.

 

What do you enjoy writing about crime fiction?

It’s a really good question and one I’m not sure I can adequately explain. I find myself drawn to crime and horror, both on the page and on the screen, both as a reader/viewer and as a writer. I suspect there’s something about the vicarious thrill of exploring our darkest fears from a position of safety – a bit like going skydiving or on a rollercoaster. But I also think that, more than pretty much any other type of “genre novel”, crime fiction tells us something about society. All the best crime novels, in my opinion, comment on or reveal some sort of truth about the world today, whether it’s something their authors put there deliberately or something that’s seeped into the bones of the story without its creator being conscious of it. Also, I really love a good mystery and putting all the clues together, whether I’m the one coming up with them or just the one trying to figure them all out.

 

 

 

Hands placing last piece of a Puzzle

 

 

 

Tell about Zoe Callahan in your next book, Cruel Summer.

Zoe was a secondary character in In the Silence, and for Cruel Summer, I elevated her to the position of central protagonist. I designed her to be the polar opposite of her best friend Anna. Where Anna is studious and a bookworm, Zoe is a party girl. Where Anna has very definite opinions about the way the world is and how it should be, Zoe doesn’t really have what you would call an ideology. Her emotions are very intense, but her response to any given situation is always governed by how it affects her or the people she cares about in the immediate sense as opposed to having a highly developed moral or philosophical set of beliefs. That makes her a lot of fun to write, because her responses are always very raw and visceral. She has a keen sense of right and wrong, and when she perceives an injustice as having taken place, she’s incapable of sitting on her hands and doing nothing. But because she’s naïve and impulsive, she tends not to think through the consequences of her actions, so her attempts to make things better quickly end up having precisely the opposite effect…

 

 

Who is Dominic Ryland and what motivates him?

Ryland is a mysterious figure, and intentionally so. He’s a charismatic but previously largely unknown politician who is suddenly thrust into the spotlight when certain shadowy figures, who are pulling the strings behind the scenes, pressure him into running for leadership of his party. We fairly quickly discover that he’s not a nice man at all, though I’ve deliberately kept his motivations, and the nature of the hold his “handlers” have over him, vague. If you want to find out where he really comes from and what motivates him to do what he does, you’ll have to read the book!

 

 

Does Cruel Summer have any thematic elements?

The main theme of Cruel Summer is justice – more specifically, exploring the limitations of the judicial process and both the rights and wrongs and the implications of taking matters into one’s own hands when the official system lets you down. Smashing the system, standing up to power, dispensing your own idea of justice – all these things are incredibly appealing, but as Zoe learns to her cost, all actions have consequences, and other people may end up paying the price for your follies…

 

 

 

Cruel Summer Image

 

 

Zoe Callahan is having the summer from hell… and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

She’s stuck in a dead-end job, her relationship is going nowhere, and the memory of the Kelvingrove Park Murders three years ago continues to cast a long shadow over every aspect of her life.

When a prostitute is brutally assaulted by Dominic Ryland, a rising political star with a suspiciously spotless personal reputation, Zoe leaps at the chance to distract herself with a noble cause, and sets out on a one-woman crusade to bring Ryland to justice.

But in doing so, she quickly finds herself on the wrong side of some very dangerous people – people who have reputations to protect and who would think nothing of silencing Zoe by any means necessary.

An explosive thriller set against the backdrop of a sweltering heatwave, Cruel Summer is the sequel to M.R. Mackenzie’s critically acclaimed In the Silence and the second instalment in the Kelvingrove Park Trilogy.

 

 

Available May 28 pre-order now: Cruel Summer

 

 

M.R. Mackenzie image

 

 

M. R. Mackenzie was born and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at Glasgow University and has a PhD in Film Studies. In 2016, he contributed a chapter on the Italian giallo film to Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion.

In addition to writing, he works as an independent Blu-ray/DVD producer and has overseen releases of films by a number of acclaimed directors, among them Dario Argento, Joe Dante and Seijun Suzuki.

His debut novel, In the Silence, reached #2 in Amazon UK’s Scottish crime fiction bestsellers chart.

 

M.R. Mackenzie

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming a Writer with Kerena Swan

 

 

Kerena Swan image

 

 

Interview

 

What do you do full time?

14 years ago I left a well-paid and secure job as Head of Disability Services for Bedfordshire County Council to start my own company; a care agency supporting children and families with disabilities. It was a scary leap into the unknown and meant investing my own money and a lot of time. For a while I worked full-time as a management consultant during the day and ran the business evenings and weekends, often totalling 70+ hours a week. I expected to have a team of eight carers but now have around ninety staff, including the management team. As I’ve built the business from scratch and have created all the necessary policies and procedures, the service is unique and personal. I have a highly motivated and positive team and together we provide highly valued care to families in need. It’s rewarding and satisfying though can be demanding at times.

 

 

Work Smart Vs Hard Better Process System Procedure Efficiency 3d Illustration

 

 

What’s it like writing with a full time job under a deadline?

I try to take Wednesdays off now and dedicate the day to my writing but it’s disappointing how meetings always seem to crop up on that day. As my company office is set in a large annexe attached to the house I’m always on hand to answer queries or make decisions. It’s convenient being nearby but I never get a proper break so I tend to do most of my writing at the weekends.

 

 

Why do you write?

Writing is no longer a hobby, it’s become an addiction. I’ve spent my career as a social worker and director writing reports, policies, training materials and content for websites. It was only when I was seriously ill in 2016 that I decided I wanted to tick one more thing off my bucket list which was to write a book and get it published. I joined a writing course and from day one I was hooked. I can lose myself for hours when I’m creating a story and am at my happiest when it pulls together. I just wish I’d discovered writing fiction a lot sooner as the market has become saturated with books and is really tough now.

 

 

Work Hard Dream Big written on desert road

 

 

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit” – Richard Back – What does this quote mean to you? 

As I was born in May I’m a Taurus and one of the characteristics is stubbornness. Once I have decided to do something I won’t stop trying until I’ve achieved it. I still feel like an amateur when I read fantastic authors like Robert McCammon or Michael Robotham but I dedicate time to learning as much about the craft of writing as I can. I study books on character arcs, forensics, and story structures. I research everything thoroughly and have learned how bodies decompose, what patterns blood spatters make and ten ways to bury a body. My husband is alarmed by my searches on the iPad and said I must never write about making bombs or we’ll have the terrorist squad knocking our door down.

I’ve always enjoyed learning and it doesn’t matter how good I am at something I believe there is always room for improvement so will study everything I can on the subject. It feels weird to think of myself as a professional writer but I suppose I am as I’ve earned a little money at it. I’m a long way from earning enough to live on though, so won’t be giving up the day job!

 

 

Metal Wheel Concept

 

 

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished the final proof-read of my third novel, a psychological thriller Scared to Breathe, which is being released on the 3rd June. My second novel, a social crime story called Who’s There? was declined by my current publisher as it didn’t quite fit their lists but is being considered by agents. I’m currently writing my fourth novel, Not My Sister, which was inspired by a news article about a woman who took a DNA test and discovered she wasn’t related to her family. It’s another psychological thriller with twists and turns and I’m about a third of the way through the first draft. I have a contract with my publisher for it and hope to release it by the end of the year.

 

****

 

Scared to Breath image

 

 

When Tasha witnesses a stabbing at the train station in Luton, she is compelled to give evidence in court that leads to Dean Rigby being convicted. But when Lewis, Dean’s brother, vows revenge, Tasha is afraid and no longer feels safe in her own home.

Tasha’s partner, Reuben, hopes to marry her and start a family soon. But Reuben is concerned about Tasha’s state of mind and urges her to see a doctor.

When Tasha is left a derelict country house by her birth father, she sees an opportunity to escape Luton and start a new life. After visiting Black Hollow Hall she sees it as the perfect opportunity to live a life without fear.

At first Tasha feels liberated from her troubles. The gardener, William, who is partially paralysed but employed to maintain the grounds of Black Hollow Hall, is welcoming.

But soon Tasha realises the Hall is not quite the idyll she imagined.

When she discovers that a woman jumped to her death there years ago following the murder of her husband, strange events begin to take place and Tasha fears for her safety.

Have the Rigby family found her?
Is someone trying to scare her into selling the house?
Or is she suffering from paranoia as Reuben suggests?

As Tasha’s sanity is put under pressure she begins to wonder if Black Hollow Hall going to be her salvation or her undoing…

 

Extract of Scared to Breathe

 

The sooner I get the door or window fastened the sooner I can get back into the safety of my bed. Huh. Who am I kidding? Only children believe blankets offer security. I cross the hall and enter the small sitting room then through to the library. Nearly there. A draught of cold air wraps itself around my feet and I shiver, goosebumps rising on my arms and legs. It’s so dark, as though all the colours of the daytime have been layered one over the other like printing ink until the only colour left is black. The lantern barely lights a foot in front of me. Maybe Reuben was right. I should have gone back to Luton, at least until the overhead lighting is sorted.

The tall French window smashes into the wall again and this time glass shatters. Damn. I hasten across the room to secure the door to prevent any more panes breaking but before I get there I spring away to my right as something moves to the left of me. Still backing away, I bring the lantern round to see what it was. Or who…

The light from two tiny candles is pitiful. It barely penetrates the darkness but I’m too afraid to step forward again.

‘Who’s there?’ I can’t help asking.

No one answers. Of course they don’t. The storm continues to rage outside and gusts of air surge through the open door making the candles flicker. Making the shadows flicker too. Was that what I’d seen? Am I literally afraid of my own shadow now? I step to the door and with glass crunching underfoot I reach for the handle. It’s cold and wet in my sweaty palm. I’m exposed here and the rain soaks into my wrap while the strong wind flaps it around my legs. I scrape the soles of my slippers on the door sill to dislodge any fragments of glass then drag the door shut. I click the latch then test it to see if it holds. It seems fine but I puzzle over why I couldn’t open it earlier. The wind continues to throw rain through the broken pane but I’ll have to sort it out in the morning.

As I turn back to face the room a sudden flash lights up the wall of the library and I see a man-shaped shadow. My shock turns into a scream then I run, the poker bashing painfully on my shin and my wet slippers skidding on the wooden flooring as I bolt through the sitting room doorway. I catch my shoulder on the frame and pain erupts down my arm. A door creaks behind me but I don’t stop. I weave in and out of the furniture in the drawing room and rush into the dining room. The candle flames gutter and die as they drown in liquid wax. I slam the door behind me and throw the poker and lamp on the floor then grab a dining chair and tilt it, ramming it under the door handle.

It isn’t enough. One push from the other side of the door would send it flying across the room. The chest of drawers. They’ll be better. My breath’s coming in short gasps now and sweat trickles down my sides. My left arm feels numb. I run to the chest of drawers and lean all my weight into it, pushing it across the floor. The feet scratch the polished wood but I don’t care. It crashes into the dining chair sending it skittering away. With the furniture positioned across the doorway I turn and look wildly around. I need something else to go across the other doorway that leads to the kitchen but no. It won’t work. This one opens outwards.

Under the bed.

No. Too obvious.

The cupboard.

I grab my thin duvet and rush to the huge sideboard. I open one of the doors and crawl inside, grateful I’ve emptied it of old rubbish, and tuck the cover under and around my sodden robe. I find a screw head on the inside of the cupboard door and use it to pull the door shut. I wrap my arms around my knees and hunch into as tiny a ball as possible. I rock slowly back and forth, blood pounding through my veins. I’m trembling all over.

I listen.

Nothing.

I put my head on my knees, silent tears soaking into the thin duvet and then lift my head in horror.

I can hear the unmistakable sound of laughter. Deep and male. There’s no doubt about it now. I’m not going crazy or suffering from paranoia. There’s someone in the house.

 

 

 

Kerena Swan image

 

 

Kerena lives on the Bedfordshire/Buckingham border with her husband, son and two cats. She also has two daughters and two granddaughters.

‘Dying to See You’ is Kerena’s first novel, Her second book ‘Scared to Breathe is being released on 3rd June 2019. Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience in the problematic world of social work, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir genre.

 

Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside The Murder Mile with Lesley McEvoy

 

 

The Murder Mile image

 

 

 

Evil never dies…

 

Interview

 

 

What was it like writing your first book?

Writing is something I’ve done all my life. Over the years, I’ve written quite a few manuscripts – my first serious attempt was submitted in 1980! I still have it in a box in my office. So in a way, I don’t view this as my first book – it’s just the first one that I’ve managed to get published! What I can say is what it was like making the conscious decision to write seriously and with purpose, rather than simply as a hobby that I loved. Previously I’d had to fit my writing around life. Bringing up a family, building a career and then a business – the kind of things we all do, but which makes writing consistently and productively very difficult. In 2017 I attended the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival and met and chatted to several successful authors, agents and publishers. It left me with the feeling, that if I was going to give getting published my best shot, then I had to make the commitment to write full-time – or as near to that as possible. My manuscript for ‘The Murder Mile’ had been something I’d picked up and put down sporadically for a few years. Halting the process when ‘life’ got in the way. I came away from Harrogate determined to treat writing as my ‘Day Job’, and set myself the target of having it ready for the next Harrogate Festival in July of 2018. It wasn’t an easy decision by any means. I still needed to make a living and needed an income. But I worked out the minimum I could manage on, and then committed to working from home as much as possible to maximise my writing time. I run a private therapy practice locally, as well as my corporate work, and the practice became the mainstay of my income during the following year. Fate ‘tested’ my decision when I was offered major contracts, which would have taken me away for months at a time. Something I knew would derail my writing plans. So I gritted my teeth and turned them all down.

It was fabulous being able to think of each day as a ‘writing day’. I tried to be disciplined and get into my office around 10am and work until I really couldn’t write anymore, but I rarely finished before 6pm or 7pm. I finally knew what it must feel like to be a ‘proper’ writer and I absolutely loved it.

 

 

 

Impossible concept with hand pressing a button

 

 

 

What were the most challenging aspects?

Getting into the discipline of making sure that I wrote productively every day. By Productively, I mean, writing words that actually moved the plot along. Developed characters, scenes and plotlines. I realised that giving myself the luxury of a full day of writing was great – but it was too easy to disappear down the rabbit hole of research and not actually do the writing. I know some would-be authors who get so hooked on research that they never actually complete their book.

‘The Murder Mile’, required quite a bit of research in places, but if I was ‘in the zone’ and the words were really flowing – instead of stopping when I hit something I needed to look up, I would just put a note to myself in red which said “Insert [Whatever it was] here later”. Then carry on with the storyline that was flowing.

Another challenge is when I’d hit what others refer to as ‘Writer’s block’. I don’t know how that feels to other authors, but for me those were days when I would stare at the page and literally not know how to start or move things forward at all. My imaginary friends just weren’t talking to me some days. On those occasions I would go back a couple of chapters and re-read what I’d written and do a running edit. Changing words, looking for mistakes and oiling the ‘clunky’ bits. Invariably once I got to where I’d finished the day before, I’d found my voices again and it began to flow. If that didn’t happen, then at least I was comforted by the fact that I’d spent the day productively editing the manuscript and cleaning things up, which saved time at the end.

 

 

 

Challenge dial red letters image.jpeg

 

 

 

What’s your creative approach to writing?

For me a plot always begins with a ‘What if?’ I hear a story on the news or read something in the paper and think ‘that’s interesting….I wonder what if…?’ It can bubble away for weeks, months or in the case of ‘The Murder Mile’ several years. Percolating and fermenting until it drips out to form the words on the page. I also always start with the end in mind. Once I know how it will end and I have the ‘How done it’, I start to develop the rest. I’ve heard other authors use the terms ‘Plotter or Panster’. Which means do you plot it all out before you begin and have the complete story arc? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants and just hold on for the ride? I suppose if my experience with this book is anything to go by, I do a bit of both. Sometimes I have a plan, but then the characters say or do something I hadn’t foreseen and that leads us down a completely new path – and it’s often much better than the one I had planned out. I love it when the characters take on a life of their own and start to run things. I just watch it unfold, as if it’s a movie, and write down what I’m seeing. That’s a great feeling and I know at that point that it’s really working and the characters I’ve created have taken on a life of their own. Magical!

 

 

What helped you the most in learning how to write a novel?

A lot of authors I’d met were members of writing groups or had done creative writing courses or had a background in journalism. And at first I thought maybe that was the secret? Maybe you had to have that kind of formal training in order to write a book that publishers would want. Happily I’ve since discovered that isn’t the case – which is just as well as none of those things apply to me.

My answer is rather simple. For me at least, reading is and has always been the key to learning how to write. How can you write books if you never read them? How do you even know what you would want to write in the first place, if you don’t know the type of books you enjoy reading?

I read on 2 levels. The first is for the enjoyment of it. Then I think about what worked in the book? How did the writer create suspense / drama? How did they make sure you wanted to turn the page? Take it apart and examine the mechanics of it or of a particular aspect of it that grabbed you, and see how it was done. I do that all the time. Not just with books, but with films / TV programs or even lyrics in a song. I analyse them and look at the nuts and bolts of how they were put together and what made it work – or not work.

Writing is a craft and like any other craftsman practice makes perfect. So as well as reading, I learned how to write a novel, by doing it. Over and over. Not for profit, but just because I loved the process. In reading the kind of novels I aspired to write and studying the work of the best authors in my chosen genre. Like studying the work of the great masters.

 

 

 

Reading book woman image in sun

 

 

 

What does Jo McCready do as a Forensic Psychologist?

Forensic Psychologists generally are involved with the assessment and treatment of criminal behaviour. They work with prisoners and offenders, as well as Police and other professionals involved in the judicial and penal systems.

Most people are familiar with the role in programmes like ‘Criminal Minds’ and ‘Cracker’, which concentrate on the  part they play in criminal profiling. In The Murder Mile, Jo McCready is one of the small number of ‘Celebrity’ Profilers. She has come to public attention by appearing on TV documentaries about serial offenders and subsequently writing books about her cases. She has also been involved in the past in helping to bring killers and serial rapists to justice through her profiling skills. She works as an independent consultant to the police who call her in to advise on offender behaviour and draw up profiles of offenders to assist them in their investigations.

Jo has a wealth of experience in the Criminal Justice System and working with killers, many of whom she helped to track down or gave evidence as an expert witness at their trials, which help secure their convictions. Her database of facts and criminal cases, built up over many years and her knowledge of criminal psychology, helps her to look at a scene and draw conclusions about the possible offender, which the police can use to narrow down the type of people they are concentrating on in their investigation.

 

 

 

Forensic

 

 

 

Who was Martha Scott and why was she seeing Jo Mcready?

Martha Scott is a young woman who has been admitted to a psychiatric unit, suffering from severe anxiety and depression. She’s haunted by nightmares of a time when, as a heroin addict she believes she murdered prostitutes by stabbing them. When Jo McCready is called in to help her unlock the memories of what actually happened, she unlocks an ‘alter ego’ who claims to be Jack the Ripper and thanks Jo for setting him free to kill again. Shortly after, Martha is found murdered in the same way as Jack the Ripper’s first victim in 1888 and a sequence of serial killings begin, replicating the murders of the Victorian Era ‘Jack’.

 

 

How do you unlock a repressed memory?

It’s believed that the unconscious mind (which is the repository for all our experiences and memories) can block, or prevent a person accessing a memory, because it’s associated with a traumatic event. A kind of protection mechanism to prevent further damage to a person’s mental health. Such memories can be accessed during hypnotherapy, and if they are a result of trauma, the therapist needs to be one specially trained in the treatment of trauma and probably Post Traumatic Stress. In short, the process has to be done with a therapist. It’s not something you can do on your own. In the book, Jo McCready has become an authority on memory resolution after trauma, and has written books about it. So she is called in to see if she can help Martha, who seems to be suffering from the condition.

 

 

 

 

Memories in the Brain -3D

 

 

 

How did the plot for The Murder Mile develop?

When I tell people about my book, one of the first things I’m asked is where the idea came from? I suppose the short answer is that it sprang from the job I do. I’m a behavioural analyst – a profiler by trade. But it was during my work in the psychotherapy practice that the idea for the book first presented itself. I was a newly qualified hypnotherapist and I was treating a lady for anxiety. She wanted hypnotherapy to help her to relax. My client was in a deep state of hypnosis, when suddenly, her eyes flew open and she turned her head slowly to look at me. The bright blue eyes I had noticed during our therapy session, had turned into black dots that stared coldly into mine. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. But then she spoke to me. Gone was the soft gentle voice of the lady I had met earlier. Out of the petite body of this frail woman, came the deep guttural voice of an old man!

If anyone else had described this encounter, I wouldn’t have believed them. But the transformation in front of my eyes was as real as it was shocking.

The ‘man’ I was engaging with now, told me that his spirit was inhabiting her body. He said he liked it there and warned me to “back off” and leave them alone. I found myself entering into a bizarre conversation with this alter ‘personality’, during which he threatened to kill me if I interfered or ‘exorcised’ him. Needless to say, I left him exactly where he was!

On bringing my client back from her hypnosis session, it became apparent that she was blissfully unaware of the presence of her dark companion, and I certainly didn’t enlighten her!

As I said earlier my ideas spring from a central question, which is – “What if?” I found myself replaying that hypnosis session and asking…”what if an alter ego appeared during therapy like that and threatened to commit murder now that he was ’free’”?

What if a series of murders began – replicating exactly what the alter personality had promised to do? There had only been two people in the room that night. Only two people who could know what was said…what if one of those people became his first victim? The therapist would be the only one left…she would have to work out how that could happen.

It would be the ultimate “locked room” mystery, but it would be a locked mind instead and the therapist would have to find the key to explain it.

It was an intriguing premise, but I wanted to write crime fiction – not ghost stories, so I knew I had to come up with a way of making it a ‘flesh-and-blood’ killer committing the crimes. How could that be possible in this scenario? It bubbled away for a few years and as I became more experienced and gained more knowledge in the field of psychology and hypnotherapy, I started to formulate a ‘How done it’. Once I had that, it was obvious that the protagonist would have to be the Psychologist and so Jo McCready was born. Then the rest fell into place.

 

 

 

Idea process image with woman.jpeg

 

 

 

What’s DCI Callum Ferguson’s role in the story?

Callum Ferguson is a Detective Chief Inspector in the West Yorkshire Police. He is the senior investigating officer into Martha’s murder. He and Jo McCready met the previous year when Jo was called in as a Forensic Psychologist to assist in a case he was involved with. Callum and Jo had a romantic history in the past, which simmers below the surface during their time together on the Jack the Ripper copycat case featured in The Murder Mile.

 

 

What’s the relationship like between Police Intelligent Unit profiler Liz Taylor and Jo McCready?

Liz Taylor-Caine is West Yorkshire Police’s own Forensic Psychologist. She is younger and less experienced than Jo McCready and seriously resents Jo’s involvement in the current case. Jo tries not to tread on Liz’s toes, but Liz is bitter and it soon becomes clear that she will do anything to undermine Jo. Although Jo tries to maintain a professional relationship with the other woman, it is safe to say that the two are definitely not friends and allies.

 

 

 

About Lesley McEvoy

 

Lesley McEvoy was born and bred in Yorkshire in the North of England and has had a passion for writing all her life. The writing took a backseat as Lesley developed her career as a Behavioral Analyst / Profiler and Psychotherapist – setting up her own Consultancy business and therapy practice. She has written and presented extensively around the world for over 25 years specializing in behavioral profiling and training, with a wide variety of organisations. The corporate world provided unexpected sources of writing material when, as Lesley said – she found more psychopaths in business than in prison! Lesley’s work in some of the UK’s toughest prisons was where she met people whose lives had been characterized by drugs and violence – a rich source of material for the themes she now writes about.

 

 

Lesley McEvoy

 

 

 

Sibel Hodge Discusses Her Writing Process

Sibel Hodge image.jpg

 

 

INTERVIEW

 

 

Is your creative approach to writing each novel the same or does it vary?

I often get asked whether I plan out my plot in advance before I start writing. Urgh, the dreaded P word, I think! I hate plotting. Absolutely hate it!

There are some authors who won’t type a single letter until they’ve got every inch of their plot structure finely tuned in advance. Some authors know their characters intimately before they begin writing, down to what they just had for breakfast. And I wish I could be like that, I really do. I think it could make my job a whole lot easier. But I’m definitely a fly by the seat of my knickers kind of girl! If I get too hung up spending a lot of time plotting in advance, I tend to lose my creativity. I start thinking about it too much and get nowhere. I think I must suffer from some kind of plot dyslexia, because as soon as I pull out a pad and pen and start trying to come up with vast plot notes, the words swim in front of my face in a blur and my brain turns to mush. Is there such a thing as plot-o-phobia?

But unfortunately, plotting is a necessary evil if you want to write a novel. Without a plot, it’s just words on the paper. Your plot should encompass all sorts of things: goals of the characters, conflict, crises, turning points, climax, resolution. And everything you write should advance the plot, although I personally think when writing comedy, you can get away with a few extras in there!

When I wrote my debut romantic comedy, Fourteen Days Later, I didn’t have a clue about any kind of plot, or characters, or structure. All I knew was that my heroine had to do a fourteen-day life-changing challenge, where she completed a new task every day. I knew my ending, but I didn’t have a clue what happened anywhere else. Hmm…slight problem, I hear you say! Well, yes, but as soon as I started tapping out the words on the keyboard it all developed naturally. My characters invented their own plot as they went along.

So far, so good, but what about the next novel? Surely this must’ve been some bizarre fluke, and I’d have to actually think of a plot in advance for the next one. Well, yes and no. My second novel was a comedy mystery. Because of the mystery element, I did need to know a few things before I started. Otherwise how would I weave in all the clues? So this time I did actually write an eency weency plot before I started. It was about three lines for each chapter of things I needed to happen. That was it, though, and I still didn’t have hardly any of my “clues” in there. But again, it all seemed to come together as I wrote it. Creative or crazy? I’m not sure which.

With my third novel, I was getting really stressed trying to plot. I read about different techniques like the Snowflake method and using index cards or graphs, even plotting software, but the plot-dyslexia was kicking in big time! Robert McKee’s Story is an excellent book, by the way, for plotting. (It’s for screenplays but works just as well for novels). But none of it helped me in writing a plot in advance. I wrote a few lines for the first two chapters and after that, nada! So once again, I just started to write and my characters invented their own story. The voices in my head just tell me to do things.

My fourth novel was also a mystery, so again I thought I’d need to at least write some lines of plot to allow for my clues. And this time I did it! Hurrah, I wrote out my plot in advance, doing a storyboard of a paragraph per chapter of things I needed to include. In a lot of ways it was easier to write in this way, but that was the only time I’ve ever managed it.

In my world (which is sometimes scary!) my plot advances on its own, with one scene logically following on from the next. I’m very much character driven. And what works for one author won’t work for another. Even what works for one novel won’t always work for another. However you choose to write a novel or story is very personal. Who knows whether I’ll finally get to write an advanced detailed plot for another novel. Watch this space and I’ll let you know!

 

 

 

Creativity dial image.jpeg

 

 

 

What do you normally begin with?

I usually have a single line idea. For example, with The Disappeared it was that Nicole’s husband died in a plane crash in Africa, but ten months later she receives a letter that could only have come from him. So what happened to him out there? Sometimes I can think of an idea and start on it the next week. Sometimes it has to fester for a year or so to be mixed with another idea.

 

Name some things that has helped your craft as a writer.

Reading. For me, it’s the number one thing that’s helped me understand the craft, to see what I think works or doesn’t work, to understand a writer’s voice that I’m a fan of, and to hone my skills. Then you have to write, write, write! Even if it’s a project that’s never going to be published, it’s all about practice and learning, like anything in life. Also passion is important. If you believe in something so strongly, it will shine through in what you do and motivate you to carry on.

 

 

What are the most challenging aspects of writing?

Every single word! Because one word leads to another and another, which eventually becomes a story (hopefully!). Because I’m not a plotter I can’t relax with my work in progress until I have a first draft and I know for sure I’ve got a story to work with.

 

 

Challenge sign image with blue sky.jpeg

 

 

 

How do you incorporate pacing in your books?

Chapter length, sentence and paragraph structure, and using multiple points of view are all methods I use to increase or decrease pacing.

 

 

How would you define a Psychological thriller?

A story that messes with your head or emphasises the psychological and emotional states of the character(s). I love psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators, where their motivations or emotions are questionable or you don’t know who to trust.

 

 

What motivated you to write about them?

With The Disappeared it was a documentary I watched, but, unfortunately, I can’t tell you the name now as it will give away the whole story in advance! But I do mention it in my author note at the end of the novel.

When I’m writing I see the scenes playing out in my head, exactly like watching a film. Often they’re accompanied by actors who I think my characters are like or would portray them perfectly. One movie that was also a backdrop in my mind as I was writing this novel was Blood Diamond. And, yes, Leonardo DiCaprio also featured in there, too, who I admire, not just because he’s a hugely talented actor, but because of his work with The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation that does amazing things for both wildlife and the environment.

Most of my thrillers are inspired by real life events, and research for The Disappearedincluded reading hundreds of online articles from NGOs, government organisations, humanitarian groups, and investigative journalists. I also read many books on the subjects covered in the novel. When I’m writing, I have notes everywhere—snippets of dialogue, character traits and names, statistics, one sentence reminders of things I need to include, and much more. This book was no different, and I had about a hundred pieces of A4 paper filled with the stuff that I had to, somehow, turn into something readable. Fingers crossed readers will experience something that’s both thrilling and exciting, but also authentic and sympathetic to the subject matter.

 

 

In the Disappeared, how did get to know your characters?

I don’t know much about my characters at the beginning of the novel (unless I’m using repeat characters from other books). They always evolve as I’m writing the story.

 

 

 

Disappeared image Sibel Hodge

 

 

 

Who is Nicole Palmer and what motivates her?

She’s an ordinary woman who’s become unexpectedly widowed. A primary school teacher who believes her husband died in a plane crash in Africa ten months before. But she’s also stronger than she thinks, independent, brave, with a fierce motivation to find out what really did happen to her husband when she realises not everything is as it seems. And she’s about to be tested to the limit.

 

 

Sibel Hodge

 

Sibel Hodge image

 

 

 

Award Winning and International Bestselling Author

Website

Twitter

Facebook

 

 

 

Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a free e-book of The Disappeared by Sibel Hodge! 

 

 

 

 

Q&A with the Prolific Author Debra Webb

Golden Question And Answer

 

 

 

Debra Webb GR image

 

 

DEBRA WEBB is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 150 novels, including reader favorites the Shades of Death, the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency and the Shades of Death series. She is the recipient of the prestigious Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense as well as numerous Reviewers Choice Awards. In 2012 Debra was honored as the first recipient of the esteemed L. A. Banks Warrior Woman Award for her courage, strength, and grace in the face of adversity. Recently Debra was awarded the distinguished Centennial Award for having achieved publication of her 100th novel. With this award Debra joined the ranks of a handful of authors like Nora Roberts and Carole Mortimer.

With more than four million books in print in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood when, at the age of nine, her mother bought her an old typewriter in a tag sale. Born in Alabama, Debra grew up on a farm. She spent every available hour exploring the world around her and creating her stories. She wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the Commanding General of the US Army in Berlin behind the Iron Curtain and a five-year stint in NASA’s Shuttle Program that she realized her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has expanded her work into some of the darkest places the human psyche dares to go. Visit Debra at www.debrawebb.com.

 

Red Carpet Festival Glamour Scene

 

 

Welcome Deb!

 

*Is it true you’ve written over 150+ books??

It is!

 

*What’s the method to the madness? What’s your superpower?

LOL. I don’t have a superpower. It’s just the way the stories come to me. In BIG chunks rather than small pieces. I had to slow down a few years ago because I was in a terrible accident. I might have reached that 200 mark by now if not for that lol!

 

*After writing so many great books what’s your secret to telling a good story? 

Love the characters. If you’ve in love with the characters the story has to be good!

 

 

Practice Makes Perfect written on desert road

 

 

 

*What’s been your experience writing the Shades of Death series? Will there be more?

Maybe. I never say never. For now, I’m moving on to The Undertaker’s Daughter series and a couple of standalone projects! THERE ONCE WAS A CHILD is what I call one of my fun projects. I just wanted to write it for me.

 

 

There was once a child

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

A predator recently released from prison is missing…there’s blood on the floor—but there are two blood types. Is he a victim of revenge or has another of Nashville’s children gone missing?

Joseph Fanning stole and abused seventeen children. Recently released after serving his time, now he’s gone missing. Detective Olivia Newhouse and her partner, Walt Duncan, have a duty to do all within their power to find him—just as they would for any other citizen. The first step is to make a list of possible suspects and the logical names to start with are Fanning’s victims. Those seventeen children are now adults and more than one would like to see Joseph Fanning dead.

As Olivia and Walt dig deeper into the case their own lives begin to unravel. The fragile threads of discovery start to twist and tangle until nothing is as it seems.

When the one victim who knows the whole truth is revealed, no one will be the same.

 

 

 

 

CLAP-THRILLER

 

*Is There Once was a Child your first psychological thriller?

Some of my others have been psychological suspense but this is the first one like this.

 

*What are some interesting facts you learned while researching for this book?

How deeply moved I can be by a character, for one thing. The power of denial. We humans have incredible self-defense mechanisms.

 

 

 

Debra webb author image

 

DEBRA WEBB is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 140 novels, including reader favorites the Shades of Death, the Faces of Evil and the Colby Agency series. She is the recipient of the prestigious Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense as well as numerous Reviewers Choice Awards. In 2012 Debra was honored as the first recipient of the esteemed L. A. Banks Warrior Woman Award for her courage, strength, and grace in the face of adversity. Recently Debra was awarded the distinguished Centennial Award for having achieved publication of her 100th novel.

With more than four million books in print in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood when her mother bought her an old typewriter in a tag sale. Born in Alabama, Debra grew up on a farm. She spent every available hour exploring the world around her and creating her stories. She wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the Commanding General of the US Army in Berlin behind the Iron Curtain and a five-year stint in NASA’s Shuttle Program that she realized her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has expanded her work into some of the darkest places the human psyche dares to go. Visit Debra at www.debrawebb.com or write to her at PO Box 10047, Huntsville, AL, 35801.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive Interview with Author & Filmmaker Vivian Schilling

Quietus

 

 

 

 

MYSTERY THRILLER WEEK

QUIETUS
Vivian Schilling

 

*What traits or characteristics define you as a storyteller?

 
I am an existential thinker with a robust curiosity about life. Because of this, the material I create often varies greatly.

I can almost always see life from another person’s perspective, no matter how upsetting or different it may be from my own. If I open my mind to truly acknowledge that person’s circumstances, I can usually see their justification for their views, even when they are in direct conflict with my own. I think this ability has helped me tremendously when it comes to bringing my characters to life, especially my antagonists.

I am a strong believer in research and strive to build my writing, no matter how fantastical, on a solid foundation of accuracy. In Quietus, I create an entire mythology surrounding death, but it is drawn and pieced together by linking numerous sources, including ancient scriptures and apocrypha, Egyptian mythology and art from the Reformation. I feel the more support I can provide for as many of the story elements as possible, the more credibility it adds to the purely fictional ones.

 

 

 

Storytelling image typewriter

 

 

 

*Which medium resonates with you more, film or books?

 
As a creator and connoisseur of film and books with a deep love of both, it would be painful to lose either from my life. But if I had to make a choice, books would win the battle on both
accounts.

Filmmaking can be a tremendous amount of fun. But writing is introspective, going deeper and further and leaving a more profound impact on my creative spirit.

As a filmgoer, I enjoy movies immensely. I love that I can sit in a theatre and completely escape for a couple of hours. I love the community experience of a film, especially in L.A., where the
film business is such a part of the culture. I love the dialogue that takes place with my friends immediately following a film, usually about the production, but also about the underlying themes and philosophical and cultural aspects of it. Film has often been the centerpiece of some of the most interesting and enlightening conversations I’ve ever had.

Reading books, on the other hand, is a very personal experience, a deeply gratifying one. I enjoy attending book clubs as a guest author, but I make a terrible book club member. Unlike film, I usually don’t feel the need to discuss the book in great detail. I would rather think about and savor it on my own.

I can completely forget a film after a week, but I rarely forget books. Another telling factor is that I don’t collect movies, but my place is packed with books.

 

 

 

Creativity

 

 

 

*According to your experience as a writer define what the imagination is. 

 
What a beautiful question. Imagination goes to the very core and health of my spirit. With this said, I feel imagination and spirit are one in the same. If I open up my mind and allow my spirit to roam freely, I create. Sometimes these creations are dark and sometimes light. Most often, they embody both. When I am feeling caged in by the mundane demands of life, my imagination retreats and it is far more difficult for me to create.

 

 

 

Imagination Quietus

 

 

 

*How has writing affected your creativity as opposed to working in the film industry?

 
Writing has always been there for me. From the time I was a young girl, scratching out plays to perform or writing in a journal, writing has been my door to the world. I can write about anything I want. I can explore any thought I have and take it as far as I choose. Through writing, I am constantly discovering who I am and where I am headed. Its lack of limitations is very empowering to my creative spirit.

Film has its own positive attributes to offer, in an almost opposite way. It teaches restraint and discipline, as well as versatility. It is a collaborative process so you have to be able to adapt and to be open to the ideas of others and to give them space to create alongside you. It also can be very limiting if the project is restricted by budget, time or resources.

 

 

Creativity painting Quietus

 

 

 

*How long did it take to write Quietus?

 

The concept of Quietus was with me for many years before I wrote the novel. I had explored it in two other works, including a screenplay entitled Dark Angel that circulated Hollywood for some time. At one point, the film was set to start shooting in Canada, but the money fell through. That’s when I decided to turn it into a novel where I could embark on a more serious exploration into the concept. Once I finally began the novel it took me seven years. During that time I often found myself split off to do film or other writing projects. If it weren’t for my cabin escape in Big Bear, it would have taken a lot longer to complete.

 

 

 

Pen writing Quietus

 

 

 

*From Los Angeles to the Ozark mountains. Do you need complete solitude to write?

 

Most often times, yes, especially if I am deep into a novel. My most productive time as a writer is in seclusion, surrounded by nature. Even if I work long days and nights for weeks without a
break, I always leave feeling rested and light.

 

 

 

Ozark Mountains

 

 

 

 

*Did the cabin there have anything to do with the cabin in Quietus? 

 

I had already written Quietus before I had a cabin in the Ozarks. But I did stay thirteen months alone in a different cabin in Big Bear, California while writing the novel. It had a large loft that I turned into a writing den. That one completely inspired the layout of the one in the novel, along with some other moments and scenes later in the book.

 

 

 

Cabin Quietus

 
*Quietus has a very elegant writing style. What’s your editing process like?

 

What a nice thing to say. Thank you. I find my most inspiring times to write are first thing in the morning or late at night when I simply let my mind roam and fingers dictate. I return to these pages the next day and start tightening the scene structure. I usually go back to the same scene several times until I can read it aloud and like what I hear. I always edit as I go, which I know is not how most writers prefer to write. But my mind works linearly when it comes to prose. I have to hear the flow from the beginning.

 

 

 

Beauty writing

 

 

 

 

*Does your book employ a certain theme?

 

Quietus is a psychological thriller that follows a woman’s survival after a terrifying plane crash. It explores a myriad of cultural, philosophical and spiritual beliefs that question the very meaning of death and asks whether modern medicine is tampering with its balance.
*What are you working on next? Can you give us a bit of a teaser?

 

At this point in my journey as a writer, I am heavily drawn to Celtic culture and mythology. My story is set in the past and is close to the earth. I’m having an incredible time with my location research—opening my spirit and letting my imagination go where it takes me. It’s been a lot of fun!

 

 

 

 

Schilling headshot

 

 

VIVIAN SCHILLING is the award-winning author of the novels QUIETUS and SACRED PREY, as well as a screenwriter, producer and director of independent films. She recently completed work as co-writer and producer of the documentary “Bonobos: Back to the Wild” and is currently at work on her third novel.

 

 

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

Interview with Author & Filmmaker Vivian Schilling

Quietus

 

 

 

 

MYSTERY THRILLER WEEK

QUIETUS
Vivian Schilling

 

 

*What traits or characteristics define you as a storyteller?

 
I am an existential thinker with a robust curiosity about life. Because of this, the material I create often varies greatly.

I can almost always see life from another person’s perspective, no matter how upsetting or different it may be from my own. If I open my mind to truly acknowledge that person’s circumstances, I can usually see their justification for their views, even when they are in direct conflict with my own. I think this ability has helped me tremendously when it comes to bringing my characters to life, especially my antagonists.

I am a strong believer in research and strive to build my writing, no matter how fantastical, on a solid foundation of accuracy. In Quietus, I create an entire mythology surrounding death, but it is drawn and pieced together by linking numerous sources, including ancient scriptures and apocrypha, Egyptian mythology and art from the Reformation. I feel the more support I can provide for as many of the story elements as possible, the more credibility it adds to the purely fictional ones.

 

 

 

Storytelling image typewriter

 

 

 

*Which medium resonates with you more, film or books?

 
As a creator and connoisseur of film and books with a deep love of both, it would be painful to lose either from my life. But if I had to make a choice, books would win the battle on both
accounts.

Filmmaking can be a tremendous amount of fun. But writing is introspective, going deeper and further and leaving a more profound impact on my creative spirit.

As a filmgoer, I enjoy movies immensely. I love that I can sit in a theatre and completely escape for a couple of hours. I love the community experience of a film, especially in L.A., where the
film business is such a part of the culture. I love the dialogue that takes place with my friends immediately following a film, usually about the production, but also about the underlying themes and philosophical and cultural aspects of it. Film has often been the centerpiece of some of the most interesting and enlightening conversations I’ve ever had.

Reading books, on the other hand, is a very personal experience, a deeply gratifying one. I enjoy attending book clubs as a guest author, but I make a terrible book club member. Unlike film, I usually don’t feel the need to discuss the book in great detail. I would rather think about and savor it on my own.

I can completely forget a film after a week, but I rarely forget books. Another telling factor is that I don’t collect movies, but my place is packed with books.

 

 

 

Creativity

 

 

 

*According to your experience as a writer define what the imagination is. 

 
What a beautiful question. Imagination goes to the very core and health of my spirit. With this said, I feel imagination and spirit are one in the same. If I open up my mind and allow my spirit to roam freely, I create. Sometimes these creations are dark and sometimes light. Most often, they embody both. When I am feeling caged in by the mundane demands of life, my imagination retreats and it is far more difficult for me to create.

 

 

 

Imagination Quietus

 

 

 

*How has writing affected your creativity as opposed to working in the film industry?

 
Writing has always been there for me. From the time I was a young girl, scratching out plays to perform or writing in a journal, writing has been my door to the world. I can write about anything I want. I can explore any thought I have and take it as far as I choose. Through writing, I am constantly discovering who I am and where I am headed. Its lack of limitations is very empowering to my creative spirit.

Film has its own positive attributes to offer, in an almost opposite way. It teaches restraint and discipline, as well as versatility. It is a collaborative process so you have to be able to adapt and to be open to the ideas of others and to give them space to create alongside you. It also can be very limiting if the project is restricted by budget, time or resources.

 

 

Creativity painting Quietus

 

 

 

*How long did it take to write Quietus?

The concept of Quietus was with me for many years before I wrote the novel. I had explored it in two other works, including a screenplay entitled Dark Angel that circulated Hollywood for some time. At one point, the film was set to start shooting in Canada, but the money fell through. That’s when I decided to turn it into a novel where I could embark on a more serious exploration into the concept. Once I finally began the novel it took me seven years. During that time I often found myself split off to do film or other writing projects. If it weren’t for my cabin escape in Big Bear, it would have taken a lot longer to complete.

 

 

 

Pen writing Quietus

 

 

 

*From Los Angeles to the Ozark mountains. Do you need complete solitude to write?

Most often times, yes, especially if I am deep into a novel. My most productive time as a writer is in seclusion, surrounded by nature. Even if I work long days and nights for weeks without a
break, I always leave feeling rested and light.

 

 

 

Ozark Mountains

 

 

 

 

*Did the cabin there have anything to do with the cabin in Quietus? 

I had already written Quietus before I had a cabin in the Ozarks. But I did stay thirteen months alone in a different cabin in Big Bear, California while writing the novel. It had a large loft that I turned into a writing den. That one completely inspired the layout of the one in the novel, along with some other moments and scenes later in the book.

 

 

 

Cabin Quietus

 

 
*Quietus has a very elegant writing style. What’s your editing process like?

What a nice thing to say. Thank you. I find my most inspiring times to write are first thing in the morning or late at night when I simply let my mind roam and fingers dictate. I return to these pages the next day and start tightening the scene structure. I usually go back to the same scene several times until I can read it aloud and like what I hear. I always edit as I go, which I know is not how most writers prefer to write. But my mind works linearly when it comes to prose. I have to hear the flow from the beginning.

 

 

 

Beauty writing

 

 

 

 

*Does your book employ a certain theme?

Quietus is a psychological thriller that follows a woman’s survival after a terrifying plane crash. It explores a myriad of cultural, philosophical and spiritual beliefs that question the very meaning of death and asks whether modern medicine is tampering with its balance.

 
*What are you working on next? Can you give us a bit of a teaser?

At this point in my journey as a writer, I am heavily drawn to Celtic culture and mythology. My story is set in the past and is close to the earth. I’m having an incredible time with my location research—opening my spirit and letting my imagination go where it takes me. It’s been a lot of fun!

 

 

 

 

Schilling headshot

 

 

VIVIAN SCHILLING is the award-winning author of the novels QUIETUS and SACRED PREY, as well as a screenwriter, producer and director of independent films. She recently completed work as co-writer and producer of the documentary “Bonobos: Back to the Wild” and is currently at work on her third novel.

 

 

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Author Anne Buist

 

anne-buiste-headshot

 

 

 

Please welcome Anne Buist, author of the Natalie King Forensic Psychiatrist Series.

Anne Buist is the Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and has over 25 years clinical and research experience in perinatal psychiatry. She works with Protective Services and the legal system in cases of abuse, kidnapping, infanticide and murder. Medea’s Curse is her first mainstream psychological thriller.  Professor Buist is married to novelist Graeme Simsion and has two children.

Continue reading “Interview with Author Anne Buist”