1. How did you get started writing?
I have written since I was very small, but started writing long fiction when I was living in China from 1996 – 2002. Initially, I was in very isolated areas in the South East and North West and my guitar and my pen and paper (no computer then) were my best friends.
2. What drew you to write a crime novel
I didn’t start out to write a crime novel. It wasn’t my initial intention…. but I was very drawn to the main character of Daniel as a child in foster care and his relationship with his foster mother, Minnie. It was exploring this key relationship and deciding to explore it from Daniel’s adult perspective, when he was a criminal solicitor defending a young boy accused of murder, that led me to write a crime novel.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
It is hard to say who has influenced you…. easier to say who you admire. I read a lot of literary novels: Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Toni Morrison, William McIlvanney, Jackie Kay, Ali Smith, Joyce Carol Oates. At the moment I am discovering and loving Donna Tartt and Jenni Fagan.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
Yes. I managed to get an agent after finishing my second novel, but it would take another two novels before I managed to find a publisher.
5. There are many interesting characters in your novel, do you have a particular favourite one?
In The Guilty One, I think it’s obvious that, as a writer, I was most interested in Minnie and Daniel and their relationship – that is the emotional heart of the novel.
6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novels?
The Guilty One involved a lot of research. I went down to London to scout the locations and also visited The Old Bailey where I saw one of my heroines performing: Helena Kennedy QC.
7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
Definitely not. I never consciously mine real life for my books. I write to escape the misery and ennui of real life. When I read I want to be transported into another world, and when I write I want the same…. it just takes a bit more effort!!!
8. What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other Crime Fiction Novels out there…
Maybe, it’s that I don’t see The Guilty One as a crime novel. I think that those who like gruesome, fast paced thrillers might be a bit disappointed. I took a lot of time making the characters rounded and real and I allowed myself time to let them unfold. This may frustrate many hard-boiled crime readers, but I am grateful to have found some readers who enjoyed.
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
Again, I am not consciously mining myself for my characters, but I can empathise with them all. The characters in my books tend to be flawed, and I am flawed, so who knows!!
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned.
REDEMPTION ROAD, my new book, is out in e-book in January and out in July 2015 in paperback, although it is launched overseas in Australia and New Zealand in January. Very nervous about the reception, but again hope that people enjoy.
11.What was your favourite scene to write in your Novel and why
I enjoyed writing the scene which comprises chapter 2 in The Guilty One, when Daniel meets Minnie for the first time. I might have written this scene first before anything else in the novel…. It is the kernel of the novel for me… their relationship and its development.
12. As a up and coming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share?
Again, I don’t see myself solely as a crime writer and so would hate to give advice on that, and also as an up and coming writer, I don’t feel I am in a position to give advice. The only thing I might say, is that a lot of people I meet think writing is easy and it’s not…. As Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “I don’t like writing very much, but I very much enjoy having written.”
A little boy was found dead in a children’s playground…
Daniel Hunter has spent years defending lost causes as a solicitor in London. But his life changes when he is introduced to Sebastian, an eleven-year-old accused of murdering an innocent young boy.
As he plunges into the muddy depths of Sebastian’s troubled home life, Daniel thinks back to his own childhood in foster care – and to Minnie, the woman who adopted him and whose love saved him, until she, too, betrayed him so badly that he cut her out of his life.
But what crime did Minnie commit that made Daniel disregard her for 15 years? And will Daniel’s identification with a child on trial for murder make him question everything he ever believed in?
Deeply psychological and suspenseful, The Guilty One is already an international phenomenon and one of the most talked-about books of the year.
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