OMG how excited am I to be interviewing the awesome AJ Waines today here on Chapter in my Life! And that’s not all….to celebrate the publication of her new book #InsideTheWhispers then simply head on over to my FB page and comment on the post to be in with a chance of winning! The draw is only open to residents of the UK only! Chapterinmylife Facebook Page
So without further ado, a huge hello to Alison and welcome along to #Chapterinmylife for a grilling…oops sorry a wee question and answer session with myself!
Alison, your background involves working with ex-offenders as a Psychotherapist, did this influence your decision to write?
Not directly, but it certainly came in useful! I was pretty burnt out after 15 years as a therapist (I’d had self-help books published) and was looking for a career shift. I’d never written fiction and it seemed such a daunting undertaking to write a novel, I couldn’t imagine how writers did it! But I gave it a go and realised I was completely hooked. What’s brilliant is that even before I trained in psychology, I loved reading psychological thrillers and to have a wealth of experience behind me when I chose to write in that genre was amazing.
Do you base any of your characters on people you have met in the past?
Only in a very general way – with a strict code of confidentiality, I would never be able to use real people in my books. Nevertheless, I’ve certainly pictured one or two real clients and ‘borrowed’ traits and characteristics for my characters and maybe changed their age or gender, so no one would ever be able to recognise themselves.
Which of your books was your favourite one to write and why?
I think my favourite is always the one I’m writing – but that’s because, like so many authors, I get completely immersed in the stories and feel like I’m actually within them, walking into rooms watching my characters – I find it a very visual and involving process.
Your favourite childhood book and why?
‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I love padlocks and keys to hidden places and also cottage gardens – and there’s a beautiful transformation in the book on several levels.
Can you describe yourself in five words!
Secretive, reflective, dedicated (obsessive!), mischievous, narcissistic!
You are having a dinner party and can invite 3 fictional characters as guests – who would they be and why?
Definitely Tom Ripley from Patricia Highsmith’s books – he’s wily and sly and he’d keep me on my toes. Dr Kay Scarpetta from the Patricia Cornwell novels – she’s a forensic expert and has had to deal with so many gruelling cases that put her in danger, that I think she deserves a nice meal! Finally, Sonia from Penny Hancock’s ‘Tideline’ – in fact, I’d like to sit her on the therapist’s couch and find out what on earth was going on in her head during that book! She’s a beautifully drawn character.
What’s the most challenging aspect of being an author?
Starting a new book. I always have Beginners’ Panic when I can’t seem to remember ever having done it before. I have to keep loads of journals when I’m working on a book so I can look back and find out what on earth I did!
Do you have any “must do” routines when writing, any little quirks that you would be happy to divulge?
In a first draft, I focus on ‘getting the story down’, plot-point by plot-point, without worrying about detail or whether it sounds any good (a tip from Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’ which is probably the best advice I’ve come across). I never leave my desk without leaving notes about the next part of the story, so I never have to come back to a blank page. And I always set my word-count extremely low (500 words a day), so that I will always achieve it (bit cheeky that one, but it works, because I always feel I’ve made good progress at the end of the day!)
You have the chance to have one of your books televised, which one would it be and who would star in it?
I think ‘No Longer Safe’ would be my choice – it’s got bags of atmosphere in it, set in thick snow in a run-down remote cottage, where four ‘friends’ meet up for a reunion. Needless to say, it all goes horribly wrong, when one of them finds a dead body at the end of her bed in the morning! Karen, the charismatic schemer would be played by Katy McGrath (Morgana in Merlin), Alice the ‘try-hard’ girl they all picked on at university – Alexandra Dowling (Queen Anna in The Musketeers), and Stuart, the charmer Alice falls for, could be a good role for Tom Hughes (Prince Albert in Victoria).
What are you reading right now?
Just started Belinda Bauer ‘The Shut Eye’. I love her quirky writing style and I can’t get enough of psychological thrillers.
What is it about a book that keeps you reading it?
Firstly, the writing style has to be good – I don’t like page-turners for their own sake, I like to dwell on the detail, the atmosphere and wonderful use of language (Lucy Clarke and Claire King are great examples of aspirational writing). I’m afraid if that’s not there, I rarely read beyond page 50.
You have to appear on a reality show, which one would you choose and why?
Oh, I’d be hopeless on any of them! I’d be far too squeamish for ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’, too introverted for ‘Big Brother’, dreadful at managing people in ‘The Apprentice’ and I have mild dyslexia, which means I get my left and right mixed up – so I’d be a disaster on ‘Strictly’ (but I love watching it)!
Which book would you have loved to write and why?
‘Notes on a Scandal’ by Zoe Heller – it is a clever slow-burn about the toxic mix of jealousy and admiration, stunningly executed.
Most annoying question you have been asked as an author?
‘I haven’t read any of books yet, so where can I download one for free?’!
Thank you for your interesting questions, Sharon! Thank YOU Alison for your fascinating answers!
Now remember to enter the draw for the books then simply head over to my Facebook page and comment on the post!
AJ Waines has sold over 350,000 copies worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 and 2016 with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. She was a Psychotherapist for fifteen years, during which time she worked with ex-offenders from high-security institutions, gaining a rare insight into criminal and abnormal psychology. AJ Waines is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).
Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and in 2016 was ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Her latest book Inside the Whispers (first in a new series), went to Number One in ‘Medical Thrillers’ on Amazon.