Monday, September 28, 2015

Interview & Giveaway: Emily Goodwin

During the past year I kept seeing a book called Stay by Emily Goodwin and I will admit the cover kind of threw me off a bit as a potential read for me (I'm not the biggest fan of romance novel or erotica novels which is what I thought it was). But I threw caution to the wind and picked up the book. Holy Crap my expectations were blown out of the water, it was such a dark contemporary read that I could not put the book down. This was my introduction to Emily Goodwin and I have not looked back :)

Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today:
Emily Goodwin

22837831If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who would you choose and why?
Co-writing with GRR Martin would be an experience, that’s for sure! I’m a fan of HEAs and love stories, and he’s, well, not LOL. It’d be so interesting to see what we’d come up with together.
In your Contagium series, it is all about fighting off the living dead, or otherwise known as Zombies. Zombies have become the new Vampire or werewolf (everywhere you look there is a new Zombie novel/TV show/movie out there) in the horror, paranormal and urban fantasy genres, why do you think that zombies have become so popular? What about the zombie apocalypse appealed to the writer in you?
12954989I actually wrote the story because I wanted to write a love story set in an apocalyptic setting. I personally like the appeal of finding reason to live when everything around you is dead. There is the fun gore, violence, weapon use, and survival skills in post apoc books, but seeing people find that reason to keep going is what drew me into the zombie genre, and I think others look for that too.

What do you think takes a book from just a good scare or thriller to a horror novel? Are there certain elements that you think need to be there to classify a book into the horror genre?
I think that’s a tough thing to categorize, because what scares one person doesn’t scare another. I never intended to write “horror novels” when I wrote the Contagium books, which is very surprising to a lot of people. I do think one thing thrillers and horror novels alike need  is unpredictability and knowing that no one is actually safe—the book world of a horror novel is just as dangerous as it’s real life counter part and anyone can die at any moment.
You began writing your novels in the UF / Horror genres with you Contagium series, Guardian series and Beyond the Sea series but you have most recently released a novel in a contemporary genre, with your novel Stay. What inspired you to change genres?
I’ve always written a romance story in a certain setting (paranormal, mermaid/under the sea, post apoc…) and I just go where my muse takes me. I was a little intimidated by the contemporary genre before, but when the idea for Stay hit me, I couldn’t NOT think about it. The characters begged to be written about, and I ended up loving that book so much. I don’t like to label myself as a genre writer, other than saying all my books will feature some sort of romance because I’m a hopeless romantic at heart.
What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
Anything historical would be the hardest, and I have to give so much credit to those who write in that genre. There is a lot of fact-checking and making sure you get things right for the time period.
I really enjoyed your novel Stay, it had me hooked from the first few pages, however, Stay has been described as being in several different genres, Dark Romance, Erotica and from me personal contemporary thriller and these titles can affect who picks up your book to read it. What genre do you believe that your novel Stay belongs in? Were you surprised to find out that Stay has been banned not once by twice?
13637290I consider Stay a dark romantic thriller. The romance between the two main characters drives the plot and eventually leads to the big turning point towards the end of the book (no spoilers! J) Without the romantic relationship, Adeline would have lost her drive to keep going, so the romance is really important. I don’t consider it erotica, but I can see how the subject of sex trafficking can make it so to some people. I was shocked to see it get banned the first time. I didn’t know books could get banned for dark subject matter that didn’t push extreme boundaries (like incest or child porn). I know Stay is a tough read, but I do not feel it was right to ban it at all. Readers have the right to read whatever they want.
13572568Your novel Stay is about human smuggling/trafficking/forced prostitution, what type of research did you do for this novel?
I spoke with FBI agents from my area who’s focus was on busting human trafficking operation and did a lot of reading on the subject from survivors of trafficking and from organizations that help victims. It’s scarily shocking to know how common this is, especially now that I have a daughter and another on the way!
All of your novels within each series have some dark aspects and elements not just in human nature but dark themes as well, what appeals to you about writing about the darker side of things?
25500532Life is dark. Humans have a dark side. It’s easy to avoid it and look for the sun, but sooner or later the darkness comes out and we have to face it. I like to push my characters to the breaking point and see how they handle the dark times, and how they come out better and stronger. Because without the dark, we wouldn’t appreciate the light.
Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
Yes! My next book is called Never Say Never, and is my favorite book I’ve ever written! It’s a raw, emotional NA romance about finding your own happiness and second chances.
72193 What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think should be a must read for everyone?
The entire Harry Potter series. If you haven’t read these books, I don’t know how you are functioning in life. It’s more than just fantasy. The books cover so much, from friendship to doing the right thing instead of the easy thing. I really think all the books should be required reading in school!

I want to say Thank You once again to Emily for being part of my blogoversary. Today is actually the release day of her latest novel NEVER SAY NEVER and Emily has very kindly offered up a giveaway (INT) for her newest release, so make sure to enter the rafflecopter gieaway below.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Author Interview & Giveaway: Kate Corcino

I am always on the search for debut authors year after year and I love featuring the in my Blogoversary Event. This year I was fortunate enough to find Kate Corcino and her novel Spark Rising. Kate was able to find new elements and ideas in the ever growing dystopia genre which is why her novel stood out for me. I am very excited to see where she takes the series.

Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today:

Kate Corcino

If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who would you choose and why?
Honestly, without even thinking, I’d immediately answer Anne McCaffrey. She was an author I began reading in the fifth grade, and I continued to read (and re-read!) into adulthood. She created so many worlds and characters that I immersed myself in for most of my life. I can’t imagine anything more satisfying than being able to experience that creative process firsthand.

You released your debut novel, Spark Rising, in late 2014. Can you tell us the process you went through to get it published? Any advice for other authors out there looking to have their works published? When did you finally realize that you had made it?
Originally, I’d planned to go the traditional publishing route. I had agents interested, though I kept hearing again and again that dystopia was a hard sell. Then I spoke with friends who were indie authors, and I did some research, and I decided that was the route for me. I found an excellent professional editing team with amazing references, hired the best cover artist I could find, and just went for it. Really, that’s the key. Do your homework, whatever the route you choose, and then throw yourself into it whole-heartedly. Don’t cut corners. Do it right, even if you have to save money first or invest years into it.
As far as when I realized I’d finally made it...hmmm. Have I? Ha ha! Honestly, I think I realized I had something special when the first reviews came in and readers who didn’t know me were so overwhelmingly positive. And then when Spark Rising began winning awards...that was when I started to actually experience feelings of “Wow! Is this really happening?”
The Dystopia genre appears to be the genre that everyone is writing in these days (even authors that are well established in other genres), what do you think draws authors to these genres? Why did you decided to release your debut in this genres? How do you believe your novel stand out from the rest of the crowd?
I think Dystopia actually speaks to the part of us that wants to hope. So many think of it as a dark genre, but the stories themselves are usually about a character or group of characters who are trying to overcome that darkness and its effects on their lives. That’s what is at the core of Spark Rising, and it’s why I love writing dystopian stories.

I hear again and again that Spark Rising is different. I think it’s because I wrote what I loved--and I love science fiction, dystopian, romance, urban fantasy, action adventure. All of those things are woven together. There’s even a bit of a dark superhero feel. Spark Rising is also written for the NA/Adult reader instead of for YA, so the story-line is a little grittier, a little darker, a little sexier. I adore YA dystopian fiction, but I wanted to explore more adult themes. I think my readers were ready for that, too.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?

For me, personally, it would be Horror. I’m a chicken. My best friend and my husband both adore scary movies, and they have to force me to go. I love dark themes...but when I write the characters become very real to me, and I’m not sure I want to live in that dark of a place for the time it takes to write a novel!
How do you see the world coming to an end? Based upon Spark Rising would you say that the end will be man-made? Do think we as a species will survive?
I do think the end of the world as we know it will definitely be at our own hands. At this point, even “natural disasters” have been shaped by our mistakes. But I’d like to believe that we will survive, somehow. Again, it’s all about hope for me.
Your concept of Dust and the ability to control it was one of the most interesting powers that
I have read in a long time, where did the inspiration for this power come from? How would you describe Lena’s powers for those who have not read the book yet?
I had a dream about a girl living in an abandoned gas station in the Southwestern US desert, very post-apocalyptic, and she had these powers. As I began to write, the cause revealed itself. So then I had to go back and do my research. Would this hypothetically be possible, and if Her powers were always a part of her. It was my job to make the world of the future fit around this amazing person.

For those who haven’t read the book... Lena Gracey is a Spark. To others on our future Earth, that means that she has the ability to manipulate and create electrical energy. But Lena is self-taught, and she knows that Sparks are capable of so much more. That knowledge makes her dangerous. It makes her a weapon. It makes her a target.

Spark Rising has some darker themed elements in it (slavery, abuse, caste system) what appeals to you about the darker aspects of human culture?
It’s what we do. We are capable of both immense kindness and incredible depravity.

When I was younger, I took a graduate seminar on genocide. It was both fascinating and shattering. I think human beings live on a very thin edge of grey. Darkness is on one side and light is on the other. The interplay between the sides, both individually and culturally, as we fall to one side or the other or attempt to hold on to that midpoint despite the forces pulling at us from the world outside and from within ourselves is where I find compelling stories. What makes one a hero? What makes another irredeemable? How close are the two really? Can someone be BOTH? Hmmm...

Spark Rising is the first book in you Progenitor Saga, how many novels do you have planned for the series? Can you give us a few tidbits about what is going to come next?
I had originally planned five, but then my second book had to be split into two! I’ve gone back and revised the larger series outline and now I expect that the Saga will be three sets of three novels. They’ll all be inter-related and feature the same characters, but each set of three will deal with a specific conflict and can stand alone. That’s the plan anyway.

This first set of three, including Spark Rising and the upcoming Spark Awakening, covers the opening of the revolution and follows Lena’s discovery of the strength of her powers and her innate darkness and how she ultimately chooses to deal with both (hint: that changes throughout the three books!). It’s also a love story about two very flawed people from different worlds trying to figure out what “happily-ever-after” means in a dark, violent world where their choices and the people around them may put them at odds.

And I will say that Spark Awakening, as it is written now, has a fairly significant cliffhanger. But I am focusing on finishing and getting the third book out as quickly as possible!

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
Spark Awakening is coming in the early part of 2016! I’ll be signing at the Deep in the Heart event in San Antonio, Texas in February and my goal is to have it out by then. I’m also hoping to be at RT 2016 in Las Vegas, and I will absolutely be at Utopia Con in Nashville next year.

There will also be a novella from Ace’s point-of-view releasing about the same time as Spark Awakening. I am mulling different ways of making that release special for my readers--it may be a free read somehow. Stay tuned!

What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think should be a must read for everyone?
Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Without question.

I just want to say Thank You once again to Kate for taking the time to do an interview with me. Her debut novel Spark Rising is really really worth a read if you are looking for something new and different in the dystopia genre (which I think we all are). Kate has very nicely supplied some giveaways (INT) below, so make sure you enter so you can try two ways to get your hands on Spark Rising.

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Author Interview & Giveaway: Michael Buckley

I find that I am still a new reader to the YA genre (as an adult) so I am always on the search for books in this genre that have interesting concepts and premise that allows me to get sucked into the story. For me this past year Michael Buckley's novel Undertow, touched on a topic that I find so interesting, the vastness of the Ocean and how little we really know about it, as well as how little humans have evolved in their thought process even after all these years.

Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today

Michael Buckley

If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who would you choose and why? 
There's just no way I could pick one. That's like being a kid in a candy store and trying to find just the right gummi bear. There are people I would love to have written with but not all of them were novelists, like Arnold Nobel of Frog and Toad Are Friends fame or Maurice Sendak. I have always loved John Steinbeck and wonder what he could have done writing kidlit. Maybe Stephen King and I could write a spooky story for children.   

From television production to published author of several series now, did you find the transition to writing for TV to a full book and eventual series challenging? When did you realize that you had finally made it as an author? 
295832Writing for television is so much harder than writing a novel and it's a lot less rewarding. TV is temporary - people don't really cherish episodes of shows the way they do books, and making a tv show is very hard on the ego, too. Everything is done by committee and sometimes the committee is full of morons - ha!  Often times you're trying to make something with a person you don't respect and can't stand and that can be really hard on the soul. I'm not saying there aren't smart people who work in television, but their opinions hold the same weight as all the dummies. It can be maddening. As for making it as a writer I'm not sure I have done that yet.  I'll let you know. 

Your novels are written for either a middle grade audience or a young adult audience, what appeals to you in writing for these age groups? 
My imagination runs down the same roads as a kid's does and kidlit offers me the opportunity to explore nearly anything that interests me. I don't really have ideas for adult novels, anyway. 

Many adults have taken to reading novels that have been classified with the YA designation. Why do you think YA novels are now appealing to adults more? Do you think that this may change some of the overall content of the YA genre? 
6455548I'm sure adults were reading kidlit before Harry Potter, but I think those books had a lot to do with opening the minds and eyes of a lot of adult readers. Since then the doors have been opened to reading whatever you want without shame. A lot of YA is read by adults and not teens so the content is changing and evolving. When I was growing up The Outsiders seemed like a very edgy story but now it's almost quaint. I suspect writers will keep pushing the boundaries of what a YA book can be, but I think it's important for the industry to remember that no matter how many grown ups are reading these books that they really are for kids. 

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why? 
Every book ever written was the hardest book to write for the author so I don't want to say that one genre is more difficult than another. I know from experience that funny is insanely hard and not something everyone can do. Contemporary fiction would be a challenge to me because I don't know how anyone can write a story that doesn't have an explosion or a monster in it - lol! 

23714109Undertow is told from the point of view of Lyric Walker, a teenage girl with a lot going on in her life from Alphas to boys to keeping secret, was it difficult for you to get into a teenage girl’s mindset?  Why did you decide to write from a girl perspective instead of a boy’s? 
A lot of my books feature female heroes so I wasn't too intimidated by writing Lyric. I was more terrified of her age and her emotional state. I've never been a teenage girl, and didn't know a lot of them when I was a teenage boy, so I interviewed a few female writers in hopes of getting some insight. They really helped me understand the complexities of being young and female.  

I think the mystery that is still the Ocean is such a fascinating thing, so it is probably no surprise that my favourite part of Undertow was your concept and creation of the Alpha Race and culture, what in to creating not only the “creature” that the Alphas are but also the culture that they have 
295834I tried to look at the whole thing the way a marine biologist might. What kind of life does the average fish have? It's hunt or be hunted, survival of the fittest, and there's not a lot of sympathy for the smaller creatures. Everything is food, so if people lived beneath the waves why wouldn't they do the same? I got obsessed with websites featuring pictures and film of deep-sea animals. Then, I tried to melt it all into a society like the Spartans, and native peoples of the Americas; warriors and hunter/gatherers and nomadic tribes. I wanted them to feel regal even if they looked bizarre. They needed to not only look odd but have a way of life that was foreign to humanity as well. I needed them to strike terror in humanity, both from what can be seen but also from what we don't understand.  

If you could have some of the abilities or interesting adaptations of the Alphas which would you choose? 
7809221I love the blades that come out of the arms of the Triton. I love the sound it makes but also how dangerous they can be. In the second book, Raging Sea, you learn some new things about those blades and how they are much more than weapons. 

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share? 
I'm plotting out the 3rd and final Undertow book right now but if you want something completely different I have a story in the recently released Guys Read: Terrifying Tales. It's the first scary story I have ever tried to write but don't be surprised if it keeps you up at night.  

What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think should be a must read for everyone? 
235038Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss - for a kids story it's pretty real and sensible. It tells you that life has it's ups and downs and you'll make mistakes but with every step you'll find yourself in places you never expected.

I want to say Thank You once again to Michael for taking the time to participate in my Blogoversary and I ma looking forward to reading the next book in his Alpha series. Michael has very nicely supplied a Giveaway (INT) to go along with his interview, so make sure you enter below :)
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Author Interview: Chris Knopf

I read my first Chris Knopf book a few years ago with his novel Dead Anyways, and I had no idea that it was a series till earlier this year when I discovered Cries of the Lost. Knopf's book really show you what someone can find about you on the internet and that in this day in age, Geeks Rule :)

Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today
Chris Knopf

If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who would you choose and why?
Gillian Flynn.  Gone Girl is a masterpiece, beyond anything I’ve read since Presumed Innocent, my enduring favorite mystery.  Favorite book, for that matter.  Both are proof that genre fiction can be great literature.  Though I’d be intimidated.  She’s really smart.

Your novels Dead Anyway and Cries of the Lost would fall into the mystery/thriller genres which can be a hard genre to get a following in as there are many well-known and well followed authors within it. How do you think that your novels differ from other authors within this genre?
This series is filled with technology and “what-if” premises.  They’re also heavily character-driven and both funny and tense.  I think too many thrillers are dumbed down and formulaic.  These aren’t.  They aren’t for readers who like a high body count and uber-machismo.  Arthur Cathcart is an intellectual, and he uses his brains to overcome the dark forces.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
All genres have their challenges.  I think the harder thing is to mix genres successfully, since publishing prefers to define you within a particular box. 

Arthur is not your typical hero in a thriller novel, why did you decide to have him be more brain than brawn? Do you think that this is his most defining aspects?
You already wrote it.  More brains than brawn.  I’m not interested in physical prowess.  It means nothing in the modern world.  Geeks rule.  See Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin..I could go on.

Especially in the second book of the series, Cries of the Lost, there is quite a bit of travel around the world, are you writing about places that you have visited? Where are you going to take Arthur next?
I only wrote about places I’ve been.  I’ve been lucky to have traveled enough to have a wide sweep.  Not sure where Arthur will go next, since after A Billion Ways To Die, I’m back with my original series hero Sam Acquillo.

Within your books you have Arthur complete all types of tasks and dig for information over the internet to find the information that he needs, just how scary is the internet and the information that you can find out about someone? What research did you do in order to make sure that the tech and internet part was accurate within your books?
The Internet is indeed the Wild West.  I can find anyone who isn’t trying to hide, and the government can usually find them.  People have no idea.  The harder part is hiding.  I researched everything very carefully, having the privilege of knowing people who know what’s possible and what isn’t.

I have not had a chance yet to read any of the books in your Sam Acquillo series, how would you describe the series and main character?
Sam is an ex-professional boxer and ex-corporate executive who managed to lose his wife, job, house and all that money, before retreating to a cottage on the Little Peconic Bay north of Southampton, NY in order to drink himself to death.  Sam gets pulled into solving a murder everyone thought was an accident, and in so doing, regained much of his former self.  Now he’s a cabinetmaker, with a girlfriend, dog, close allies, and a sailboat, though trouble still finds him.  He still drinks a bit too much, and has a hard time backing down from a fight, but he’s philosophical, and loves his new life and close ties despite his cranky nature.  The books are also an examination of the haves and have nots in the Hampton, told from the perspective of the have-nots, who are plentiful, albeit invisible.

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
I’m writing Sam 7, working title Back Lash.  Sam’s mechanic father was beaten to death in a bar thirty years before, and this is the book where Sam reluctantly returns to the scene of the crime to solve the mystery of whodunit.

What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think everyone should read?
If we stipulate the mystery/crime fiction genre, Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow.  Though I’d add Mystic River, Dennis Lehane, Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, Maltese Falcon, Dashiel Hammett, Farewell My Lovely, Raymond Chandler…. because no one book does it all. 

If you mean all types of books, I’ll need more space.

Thank you Chris once again for being part of my blogoversary and taking the time to answer some interview questions. Chris' novels were a great find for me as they approach a thriller/mystery novel in a different way. Yes, the books still have some action scenes and guns blazing but his novels show that there is more to mystery/thriller novels than this and with right knowledge and mind you can find anything out.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Author Interview & Giveaway: Alex Marwood

As a reader (and reviewer) I am always on the search for an author that changes things up, goes away from the norm and introduces something new into a genre. In the past year, for me, that author is Alex Marwood and her novel The Killer Next Door. It was not your typical serial killer novel or police novel (actually very little police involvement), so how are the crimes solved you ask, well you better pick up the book to find out for yourself. Trust me it is worth the read :)

Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today:

Alex Marwood

You have a background in journalism; did some of the stories, people or events inspire your more recent novels?
Yes and no. I wasn’t that sort of journalist; I mostly worked for the Features and Arts desks rather than News, so my involvement in crime reporting was as an informed consumer, not a producer. But I think journalism taught me all sorts of things that have made me a better novelist. I don’t just take the first account I come across as being the whole story. Being around journalists far better than I taught me all sorts of important things: the importance of listening to other people, of paying attention to the ways in which they express themselves, of holding off from arguing with viewpoints until I’ve heard what the viewpoint actually is, rather what I assume it to be, of paying attention generally to the world around me, of connecting the dots. Both The Wicked Girls and The Killer Next Door did have their starting points with real-life events, but any normal person armed with a computer, a library card and a curious mind would have been able to find out all of the facts about both of them, honestly.
Alex Marwood is your pen name for your darker genre novels, why did you decide that you needed to write under a different name? Were you afraid that your books would not be taken as seriously under your real name?
The publishing industry is a labyrinth in which the unwary can be tripped up byall sorts of hazards and disasters and bad decisions that people on the outside don’t realise about. Retailers, meanwhile, have become very dependent on computerized systems for their ordering, and those don’t show up circumstances, only bald figures, and this has caused a lot of trouble for writers. Writers have always had career ups and downs, but now the downs can literally destroy your career. There are a number of horrific stories, for instance, of authors having their careers badly damaged by having a book come out during the collapse in sales that immediately followed 9/11. Books basically only get a six-week window in which to make their mark after publication before the retailers move on, and people simply stopped buying books for a few weeks, and they found retailers refusing to stock their ensuing titles on the basis of the bald figures, no context. Something similar happened to me, and after struggling on through two more books as people told me they couldn’t find them in the shops, I did what many other writers have done, and changed my name to get away from the curse of the computer records. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

But no, I’m proud of the books I wrote before, and have no wish to distance myself from them. There’s a huge amount of terrific writing in the genres – (rather dark, in my case) romantic comedy, for my first three, then a supernatural thriller – in which I used to write. As to people taking me seriously or not – honestly all I want is for people to read my books and enjoy them, and I’m not bothered by the snobbery in the literary world. Well, not much. Their loss, honestly.

What do you think are the essentials to make a great crime thriller novel?
Oh, lord. One of the reasons I love being under the Crime umbrella is what a wonderfully broad genre it is. There’s something for pretty much everyone’s tastes under its umbrella, and Lee Child’s, or Helen Smith’s, answers to this would be just as valid as my own, though entirely different. For my own books: character, I think. I don’t think you have to identify with, or even like, the characters in a novel, but you have to be interested in them, and feel that the high stakes with which that they’re threatened matter in some way. And my characters’ decisions are generally driven by their personalities, once I’ve got to know them, just like in real life. Actually, Lee Child would probably agree with most of that, except with guns and stuff.
What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
Um… they’re all challenging, if you’re trying to do it well! But for me I guess it would be the Literary genre (because it is a genre), because I’d get so bored!
The Killer Next Door was a very refreshing read to me and was a different take on the serial killer sub-genre. Why did you decide to have a cast of misfits and their stories featured instead of the traditional police based novel?
I’ve always been more interested in how crime happens and the effect it has on not just the victims but on the perpetrators and the wider world, than I have in how the perpetrators get caught. All those bad decisions, the snowballing of misfortune, the tiny incremental steps that lead to terrible consequences, that put us all in a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God position, if we did but think about it. Detection and punishment, and society getting its sense of justice, are only a tiny bit of the whole picture.
The starting point for The Killer Next Door was a case that has always had huge resonance for Londoners: the case of Dennis Nilsen, who killed and dismembered a dozen young men in the 1980s while living in similar circumstances to the people in my novel. The thing that has always echoed for me and other Londoners is this: living in our crowded, always-on city, we all have to do a certain amount of blind-eye-turning in order to retain our own sanity and that of our neighbours. I’m sure if the last girl who lived upstairs from me knew how much we all know about her sex life she would have been beyond mortified. And so, though we all play lip-service to wondering how on earth Nilsen’s housemates managed not to notice what he was up to, the grim truth is that we all know only too well. And it’s stuff like that that really interests me.
You introduced mummification and body breakdown techniques in regard to your serial killer The Lover (who is nice and creepy by the way). What type of research did you do to make sure that it was accurate?
An interesting little side-fact: it’s one of the few subjects that are remarkably difficult to find much out about on the internet. Fortunately I’ve amassed a huge collection of non-fiction books about all sorts, and between my ancient civilization texts and my forensics and pathology books and my cultural studies of death rituals and the British Museum, I was pretty much covered. And no, I didn’t have a go at doing it myself, not having a fresh cadaver to hand. Though I did do a little experiment in the freezing of individual sausages, to address my copy editor’s doubts about something, and cooked them up afterwards and ate them for dinner.
The Killer Next Door is a very dark themed novel. What appeals to you about the dark and disturbing aspects of human nature? Are some of the tenants in the building based upon your own experience of living in an apartment building?
Not directly. Though everyone’s known someone like all of these people, haven’t they? Apart, perhaps from the serial killer. But you know, even serial killers mingle with the rest of the world when they’re not at their hobby. I did my time living the itinerant life of the struggling writer in my youth, but we mostly clubbed together and shared flats and houses rather than living in bedsits. But not everyone has the good fortune to have a wide friendship base when they come to a new city, or a new country, and No23 is often the sort of place those people end up. And honestly, that house is a big step up from quite a lot of the circumstances a lot of people end up living in. I had an Iranian boyfriend years ago – not like Hossein at all, though some of the detail of Iranianness I soaked up through him – whose first ‘home’ was the cupboard under the stairs in someone’s house. So really, these guys were a lot better off than some, even the ones who don’t officially qualify as homeless.
The Killer Next Door is going to be adapted for film. What scares you most about this process? Are you worried that your work will be changed too much for the big screen?
I suppose the whole business of being more visible scares me a bit. I’m a typical writer, best suited to staying in bed with my imaginary friends, so this whole ride as Alex Marwood has seen me constantly pushed outside my comfort zone. But I’ve gradually adjusted, and I’m sure I’ll carry on adjusting. And boy, it’s better than the life I was living before!
As to the adaptation, I don’t think one should be too precious about one’s work, once you choose to allow other people get involved. The book’s mine. It’s done, it’s published, it’s been shortlisted for the prizes, it’s in the British Library; nothing bar nuclear war can make it go away now, or change the way it is. And film is a completely different discipline. If anything, I’m quite excited to sit down and study how the screenwriter does their magic with a text I know so well, and have the opportunity to understand their logic, because the whole discipline’s a wonderful mystery to me, and one I’d love to learn how to do.
Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
My new novel, The Darkest Secret, comes out in January in the UK, summer in the States. When three-year-old Coco goes missing during a birthday weekend, the adults in the party close ranks and lie through their teeth about what happened. Twelve years later, the little girl’s surviving sisters start to unravel the truth when the same group gathers for the funeral of their much-married father. I’m pretty pleased with it, I think.
What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
Oh! I think I’m being sent a copy of Alison Gaylin’s new one, What Remains Of Me, soon. She’s one of those writers who’s on my automatic pre-order list. We’re up against each other at the Anthony awards in October, for The Killer Next Door and Stay With Me, which is the very definition of being on a cleft stick, really.
I want to thank Alex once again for participating in my Blogoversary and her insight into the literary world and soon film world that she is experiencing. Her novel The Killer Next Door, was one of my favourite thriller reads of the past year as it explored a different side of serial killer books and I look forward to picking up her other works as well. Alex has very kindly supplied a Giveaway (US) to go along with her interview, so make sure you enter the rafflecopter giveaway below.
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