Q&A with THE BAD THINGS author Mary-Jane Riley

Killer Reads mary-jane rileyWhat drew you to the world of crime?

Great crime writing! It’s full of wonderful, twisty plots and characters – and I also like seeing how ordinary people react in extraordinary situations. Also, I have written many news stories about criminal acts and, believe me, some of them are much stranger than fiction.

What author (besides yourself) do you think that everyone should read?

That’s a hard one! And I think the truth is, as long as you read something, then that’s a good thing. As a child and teenager I read anything and everything, including Westerns – I loved reading those (I interviewed the late, great author JT Edson who lived in Leicestershire, but that’s another story) thrillers, crime, romance, science fiction – the lot! As an adult, time is not so kind, but I read as much as I can – authors I love include Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell and PD James obviously, Belinda Bauer, Kate Atkinson, Donna Tartt, Ian McEwan – oh, and I’m an avid Lee Child fan! But whatever you read – enjoy it.

Tell us about your new book

THE BAD THINGS is set in one of my favourite places – Southwold in Suffolk, though I have called it Sole Bay as I played around with the geography a little! The main character is a journalist, Alex Devlin, whose life changed forever fifteen years ago when her sister Sasha’s two small children were snatched in broad daylight. Little Harry’s body was found a few days later, but Millie’s remains were never discovered. Now Jackie Wood, jailed as an accessory to the twins’ murder, has had her conviction quashed by the Appeal Court. Convinced Wood can reveal where Millie is buried, Alex goes to interview her. Then wishes she hadn’t as what Wood reveals shocks her to the core and threatens to uncover a dark secret she has kept to herself for the past fifteen years.

The Bad Things Mary Jane RileyIs there a lot of research that goes in to your books?

I research what I have to because I want to get things right – there’s nothing worse as a reader than to be dragged out of the story because something simply doesn’t ring true – but my books are mainly concerned with characters and how they react in difficult situations.

What are you working on now?

I think Alex Devlin, one of the main protagonists in THE BAD THINGS, still has a lot to say – I don’t feel her story is finished. So the next book is the second in a series featuring her. This time she is looking into the death of a student from a private boarding school on a crumbling part of the North Norfolk coast – was her death really suicide? What is the truth behind her close relationship with a member of staff? And who was blackmailing her over explicit photographs from her recent past? Hope that sounds intriguing!

Do you think you could pull off the ‘perfect murder’?

Don’t tell my family this, but I am very good at lying! But I think there would be something I would forget to do or say. So, no, I don’t think I could pull it off! The characters in Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train had the scenario for pulling off the ‘perfect murder’, but they proved all too fallible.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors?

Write. Don’t give up. Write some more. Seriously, DON’T GIVE UP.

What’s your poison?

Wine. And more wine. And champagne. Great advice I was given, celebrate every step of the writing process with champagne.

What’s your method – regular writing schedule, late at night, listening to music – what inspires the magic for you?

For years I started work at 6 a.m. and had to have my brain in gear from the very start. And early mornings still work best for me. Early evenings, too. I can’t listen to music while I’m writing, but I have a great view out of my window, and often stare out at that – thinking, of course!

What’s your favourite pastime (aside from reading/writing)?

Eating and walking the dog – I think it’s necessary they go hand-in-hand, don’t you?!

Get your copy today here. For the latest from the author, be sure to follow @mrsmjriley on Twitter and at her Facebook page.


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