Q&A with author Alex Day

Category: Uncategorized

 

 

 

 

Where did the idea for The Missing Twin come from?

Strangely, the idea came from a number of different things – people I met, stories I read in the papers and saw online and a Mediterranean location that inspired me. All of these factors were swimming around in my mind rather randomly until they suddenly coalesced into a fully formed outline of a plot. So I started writing and The Missing Twin is the result.

 

 

What emotion do you most hope to inspire in your readers?

It’s very hard to empathise with people when they are anonymous, or when there are so many in desperate need that the problem seems too great to solve. So I hope that, in the characters of both Edie and Fatima, I’ve given readers women they can believe in and dilemmas they can understand, namely, Edie’s increasingly fragile mental health and Fatima’s horrific suffering on her terrible journey.

We know you’re a teacher – how did your experiences in the classroom affect this story?

I retrained as a teacher only a few years ago and the school that I was first placed in has a large refugee/migrant/asylum seeker intake. The nationalities of the pupils tracked the recent history of the world’s wars like strata in a rock: Somalian, Palestinian, Sri Lankan Tamil, Iraqi, Afghan and, most recently, Syrian. As the Syrian children started to arrive it was impossible to ignore how deeply traumatised they were. Most could not tell their story as they spoke no more than a few words of English but, over time, and with the help of other Arabic speaking students, more and more details began to emerge and the narratives were exactly as you might expect – villages bombed, family members killed, the loss of everything, desperate flight, refuge in another country – Egypt, for example – and finally arrival, somehow, in the UK. Can you imagine how hard it must be to go through such horrendous events and then to have to start again in a completely alien country and culture in which you have nothing, are nothing? I felt so sorry for the children and their families.

It’s also extremely worrying to think about the entire generation of Syrian children whose education has been disrupted or destroyed. As a teacher, I believe passionately in the power of education to change lives. Without it, it’s very hard to see how those young people will achieve their potential or build a better life, let alone how they will rebuild Syria when the time comes.

 

How do you go about writing? Do you know the entire plot before you sit down to write, or do you prefer to see where the writing takes you?

For my first book, Garden of Stars by Rose Alexander, I didn’t know the entire plot before I started and as a result it took me about five years to write! But with The Missing Twin I had the whole thing mapped out before I wrote the first word. It just all came flooding out one day – what would happen, when, to whom – and the finished book doesn’t differ much from that initial plan. This made the writing process much, much easier and more enjoyable, as well as quicker, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way now.

What is a typical day for you?

On a typical day during term time, my alarm goes off at 6am. I’m out of the house and off to work by 7am at the latest, having made sure my own three children are up and getting ready for their school day. I don’t generally get home much before 6pm and I’ll try to do two hours writing before eating supper and falling asleep, exhausted, by 10pm. My husband works from home these days and he is handling the cooking and the school run for our youngest daughter who is still at primary school, which is brilliant. I did it all more or less single-handedly for over 10 years so he’s happy to be redressing the balance now. I try to spend at least one full day at the weekend writing, doing odd hours here and there in between the children’s activities and other commitments. The problem I’m finding now, with three books published and more underway, is finding time to write and do all the social media that is necessary to make sure your name and your work is out there, getting noticed.

When you manage to find some spare time, what do you most enjoy doing?

I love to dress make and I’m trying to make all my own clothes these days. I’m so fed up with the poor quality of fabric and manufacture of so many garments, but more than that it’s about the pleasure I get from making something from scratch. It also forces me to slow down, as you have to carefully read and follow a pattern if the product is to come out right, not to mention the pleasure of browsing online fabric shops to select the perfect fabric, colour, pattern etc. Another favourite hobby is scuba diving; I’m a PADI advanced diver. Any moments left over will always find me buried in a book. I tried writing reviews but found I was absolutely rubbish at it and that it’s far harder than it looks. I’m full of admiration for all the fabulous book bloggers out there who do such an amazing job reviewing books and supporting authors.

We get a wonderful flavour of the Mediterranean in this story – do you enjoy travelling?

I think I got the travel bug as a teenager, partly from reading Graham Greene’s Travels with my Aunt and The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay. I was lucky that, in my misspent youth, I had the opportunity to live for a year in Israel and a year in Brazil, as well as travelling widely throughout South America. Diving holidays have involved trips to far-flung destinations such as Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia. I’ve also spent time in Kenya and Tanzania as well as many European countries, with the Med always being a favourite destination; I was blown away by the beauty of Turkey when I first visited many years ago. More recently, the tiny ex-Yugoslav country Montenegro has captured my heart – and played a starring role in two of my books – and I’m planning on visiting Albania very soon.

In my previous career as a TV director I worked for a while on the BBC’s Holiday programme, and that took me to places that I wouldn’t normally have chosen to visit, from Benidorm to Rabat. There’s so much to see in the world and so little time to see it all so I’m a confirmed armchair traveller, too; I love to read books set in different locations and to watch travel documentaries.

Can you tell us your 3 favourite books?

The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Your 3 favourite films?

The Great Gatsby (the Robert Redford version)

Thelma and Louise 

The Deer Hunter

Your  favourite TV shows?

Anything with David Attenborough!

Location, Location, Location – I just love Phil and Kirsty and getting to see inside other people’s houses.

The Durrells – I first read My Family and Other Animals when I was a child and I fell in love with it then. I’ve adored seeing it brought to life again, plus the Corfu setting is similar to that of The Missing Twin.

 

The Missing Twin is out now.

Introducing the first six books on the Killer Reads list!

Category: Book club

Drumroll please… We are thrilled to announce the first acquisitions for the Killer Reads digital-first list! In order of publication:

MINDSIGHT, by Chris Curran

Publication date: 19th Feb 2015

Five years ago, Clare killed her family. She has no memory of the car accident, but there is no refuting the evidence of drugs in her system. She has accepted her guilt, and served her time. Now, released from prison, she tries to find out the full truth of what happened on that fateful night. Probing into the past, however, turns out to be dangerous exercise, threatening not only Clare’s sanity, but ultimately her life…

This is an utterly compelling, gut-wrenching story – beautifully told, and with shocking twists that leave you gasping for breath. Perfect for fans of The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty and Before We Met, by Lucie Whitehouse.  Click here to find out more.

 

TUESDAY FALLING, by S. Williams

Publication date: 5th March 2015

Tuesday has suffered extreme cruelty at the hands of men, and now she is seeking vengeance. A force to be reckoned with, she lives beneath the streets of London in the hidden network of forgotten tunnels that honeycomb the city – and this is her preferred hunting ground.

When Tuesday is connected to a series of brutal attacks on gang members, DCI Loss takes on the investigation. A burned-out detective still suffering the devastating effects of the unsolved murder of his daughter three years earlier, the case starts to hit close to home. Because soon Loss will discover that Tuesday could hold the key to uncovering the truth about what happened to his daughter…

A refreshingly original and relentless thriller that will grip you by the throat and refuse to let go.  Click here to find out more.

 

THE LAKE, by Sheena Lambert

Publication date: 19th March 2015

September 1975. After a dry, hot summer, a body is discovered in the receding waters of a manmade lake, and for Peggy Casey, 23-year-old landlady of The Angler’s Rest, nothing will ever be the same.

Detective Sergeant Frank Ryan is dispatched from Dublin, and his arrival casts an uneasy spotlight on the damaged history of the valley. Over the course of the weekend, Detective Ryan’s investigation will not only uncover the terrible truth behind the dead woman’s fate, but will also expose the Casey family’s deepest secrets. Secrets never meant to be revealed.

A brilliantly gripping murder mystery, with a compelling family drama at its heart. Perfect for fans of Ann Cleeves, Jane Casey and Elly Griffiths.

 

AN ACT OF MERCY, by J. J. Durham

Publication date: 2nd April 2015

London 1850.  A city of contrasts.  Of scientific marvels, poverty, disease and death.  When Detective Sergeant Harry Pilgrim (one of London’s first police detectives) discovers the corpse of a woman in a Hackney cab, the case seems straightforward – until the only suspect is found murdered in his cell.  Pilgrim is hindered in his investigation by his own dark past – a dead son and a missing wife – and also by the well-meaning interference of Charles Dickens, who is serialising Pilgrim’s adventures in his journal ‘Household Words’. The case turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse.  But who is the cat and who the mouse?

A thrilling tale of murder and intrigue in Victorian London. Perfect for fans of Ripper Street and The Mangle Street Murders.

 

SOMEONE OUT THERE, by Catherine Hunt

Publication date: 14th May 2015

Laura Maxwell appears to have it all – perfect career, perfect husband, perfect life. But how well do you really know the people around you? All it takes is one tiny crack to shatter the whole façade.

A series of accidents causes Laura to believe that someone out there is deliberately targeting her, trying to harm her. The fear starts to pervade every part of her life, affecting her work and her marriage. Increasingly, she feels that no one believes her story, and she must face down her attacker alone.

A story of obsession, revenge and deceit, of a woman caught up in terrifying circumstances. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, and Into the Darkest Corner, by Elizabeth Haynes.

 

ACOUSTIC SHADOWS, by Patrick Kendrick

Publication date: 11th June 2015

Erica Weisz, a new substitute teacher in the small town of Frosthaven, Florida has a dangerous secret. When two gunmen attack the school where she works, it becomes impossible to keep the truth buried. She is in the witness protection program and the man who is meant to be protecting her has sold her out. Wounded and running for her life she must learn to trust the only person who can help her, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agent Justin Thiery. But Thiery has his own personal demons to overcome if he is to save Erica and find redemption for himself.

A thriller that will take you on a heart-pounding, pulse-racing rollercoaster ride. This will suit fans of Harlan Coben, Lee Child, and Michael Connelly.