What drew you to the world of crime fiction?
I’ve been obsessed with things that go bump in the night since I can remember. I grew up a house that was rumoured to be haunted by a woman who’d lived there. The bedroom she died in was known as the “red room”: the wallpaper was red and I used to imagine I could see her face in the pattern and wonder how she died. There were also two spectral children who my brothers and I pretended to have tea parties with. The house was also full of crime novels because my mum was writing about them… So, there was no escaping a life of crime in the end.
What author (besides yourself) do you think that everyone should read?
H.G. Wells. However often I go back to his books, I’m amazed at how gripping they are. He’s a master not just of the page-turner, but of making every sentence count towards the suspense.
Tell us about your new book:
The American Girl tells the story of an exchange student called Quinn Perkins who stumbles out of the woods near a French town. Barefoot and bloodied, her appearance creates a stir, especially since her host family has mysteriously disappeared. Journalist Molly Swift is drawn to the story and will do anything to discover whether Quinn is really an innocent abroad, or a diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder. Molly herself, however, is not entirely to be trusted.
Did a lot of research go into it?
I was in France when I came up with the idea for The American Girl and so my research involved visiting places similar to those featured in the book, asking lots of questions and taking copious notes. I wrote some of the novel in the bar that La Gorda is based on and it’s just like the club is in the book. Anything I couldn’t find while I was in France, I looked up in a book or on the internet.
Do you think you could pull off the ‘perfect murder’?
I love lists and planning, which would help with the “perfect” part and I can be a bit of a neat freak, so that would help with hiding the evidence after the fact. Unfortunately, though, the whole thing might come adrift because I’m such a terrible liar…
…or am I?
What’s your top tip for aspiring authors?
Keep notes on things: your ideas for titles and plots, your characters, overheard snippets of dialogue. I don’t keep mine in any particular order. It’s just good to know I’ve written them down somewhere.
What’s your method – regular writing schedule, late at night, listening to music – what inspires the magic for you?
I keep starting my writing day earlier and earlier so that I can fit everything else in. I think eventually I’ll be getting up at 4 am to write! I like having something on the TV in the background. I read an article that said familiar background noise stops you from daydreaming and I’ve found that to be true: putting on something I’ve watched a million times like Buffy really keeps me focused and also keeps me company while I’m working.
What’s your favourite pastime (aside from reading/writing)?
Travelling and reading, which luckily go really well together. Reading a good crime novel and travelling somewhere new seem to me to be the two most thrilling feelings in the world.
You can find The American Girl by Kate Horsley available here on eBook.