Q&A with Kate Horsley, author of THE AMERICAN GIRL

Category: Interview


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.

Thank you!


You can find The American Girl by Kate Horsley available here on eBook.

Q&A with Alex Lake, author of AFTER ANNA

Category: Interview

Meet Alex Lake, the author of AFTER ANNA…

After Anna EBWhat drew you to the world of crime?

I think I just like good stories, and the world of crime is full of them. It’s also a world that we know exists right next to us, but which we hope we never have to experience. Perhaps crime fiction is a way of exploring that world without having to enter it.

Plus, I love reading about and creating a good villain, and there are loads of them in the world of crime.

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

Wow. What a question. Do I get to sit on a fence here and not really answer it? I’m not sure there is a ‘should’ when it comes to choosing what your read – I think you just read what you enjoy (unless you’re training for something – like being a doctor – then you should probably read some anatomy books or something like that) so all I can offer up is who I like to read, and that has changed over the years. I loved Stephen King as a teenager (and still do), Jonathan Coe is a big favourite, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Kate Atkinson. Like many people who love reading, the list of authors I like and admire and wish I was as good as goes on and on…

Perhaps the books that made the greatest impression on me, though, were the Borribles Trilogy. I adored them as a child. Without giving anything way, there is a character called Napoleon Boot, who starts out as a villain and ends as a hero, and who, finally, dies so that the rest may live. As a ten-year old I was sobbing in bed when I got to that point – my dad heard me and came in to find out what was wrong. Through the sobs I managed to tell him that Napoleon was dead. I think he was a bit surprised that I was so upset over the demise of a figure from French history. But that’s the power of books, I guess.

Tell us about your new book

The plot is simple (at first, anyway):  a five-year-old girl is abducted. It’s every parent’s nightmare – or one of them, at least – and her mum and dad, Julia and Brian, go through the most horrendous week, wondering whether she is alive, dead, enslaved.

And then she is returned, unharmed, which is when Julia’s problems really start…

Is there a lot of research that goes in to your books?

Yes, but my books are mainly about character and story.  I like to know that the setting or details or whatever are correct – for example, if a character takes a train and you call it an Intercity 125 you need to be sure that Intercity 125s were still running then on that route, because somebody will notice – but once I have satisfied myself that the details are right then I leave it at that.

What are you working on now?

A few things. I tend to work on more than one novel at a time, so I have a few in progress.

I also write for my own kids. We have a character called The Very Wicked Witch, who is a mixture of extreme wickedness, ridiculously grandiose plan and tragic incompetence. She’s very funny – her plans are always thwarted by the village kids, but she never gives up.

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

No! I don’t think I could pull off any murder, at least not in cold blood or for money or revenge. I think the perfect murder would have to be motiveless, so that no one would ever suspect you did it, and I cannot imagine the circumstances in which I would be planning a motiveless murder.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors?

Read as much as you can, and write every day. Enjoy what you write – if you don’t, no one else well. Write the book you wish was in the bookshops. Find your voice – what makes your writing yours?

Oh – and don’t read tips about writing!

What’s your poison?

Hmm. Tea and coffee, for sure. Crisps – chips in the US – which are just an explosion of taste. I think I read somewhere that our taste buds spent millennia evolving in such a way that they seek out a certain blend of salt and sugar and fat and that food scientists designed crisps to match that. So basically, we have no way of resisting their appeal; it is hardwired into our biology, which is kind of worrying.

I also love, when I can get it, soft French cheese like Camembert or Coutances or Coulommiers. I lived in Normandy for a year when I was a student, and I more or less survived on cheese and baguettes. And red wine.

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

Whenever I can. Early in the morning before work, late at night when the kids are in bed. Weekends. Holidays. I tend to write quite quickly, but when I sit down to start, I normally know what I’m going to write. If I am swimming or jogging or out for a walk I will think about the next few chapters, so that when I get a chance I’m ready.

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

I just started learning the guitar, and I’m enjoying that, even if my family members aren’t. I also like swimming, ideally outside in a lake or pond somewhere, and of course, I love spending time with the kids.

The thing I enjoy most of all, though, is hiking. If I can, I like to get out for long, remote hikes that take all day – there’s something totally immersive about them. Whatever else you have going on just melts away. I spent a lot of time in the Lake District as a kid, and I guess it stuck with me.

Get your copy today here. For the latest from the author, be sure to follow @Alexlakeauthor on Twitter.

Q&A with Patrick Kendrick, author of Acoustic Shadows

Category: Interview

Acoustic Shadows

What drew you to the world of crime? When I first began with the fire service I witnessed the victims of crime first hand. I was eight months on the job when I saw a man doused with gasoline and set on fire. As a fire-medic, I responded to a call-out where a two year old had been raped and beaten to death by her twelve year old brother. Shootings, stabbings, assaults were everyday occurrences and it can be hard to deal with emotionally. Writing – both fiction and non-fiction – acted as a catharsis of sorts to help me deal with things that I witnessed.

Tell us about your new book. Acoustic Shadows came to me after the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. I couldn’t sleep thinking about it. I wanted to write about this type of violence and, once again, sort through my own feelings about yet another senseless crime. But, the thought kept coming back to me: what if one of the teachers would have had a gun? And then, why would she have had a gun? I did not want to sensationalize the tragic event but share my own feelings about violence in America and those that are affected by it. Since 2006, there have been nearly 200 cases of spree or mass shootings and there does not seem to be end in sight nor a solution. I began to think of a storyline, and more importantly, characters whose lives have been permanently changed by acts of violence. If you read the book, you will see almost every character in novel has been changed or influenced by violence and each deals with it in their own way.

Is there a lot of research that goes in to your books? Absolutely, and there is never enough! In my first book, Papa’s Problem, an historical novel that won the Florida Book Award, I set the story in 1939 Key West, when Hemingway lived there. The research on that era and Hemingway, whom I thought I knew well until I started the book, was extensive. My second book, Extended Family, a very dark story about serial killers, involved tons of research on DNA. In Acoustic Shadows, guns are the vehicles of destruction and I wanted people to know as much about them as some of the characters that used them, including their weight, bullet velocity, their finish, the hand grips, number of rounds and, perhaps, more than anyone would want to know.

What author (besides yourself) do you think that everyone should read? Living: James Lee Burke, who writes thrillers with such angst for his characters, you believe you know them. Dead: Harry Crews who, though not well-known was one of the most unusual, original authors to ever publish and a big influence on my life and writing. John D. MacDonald was one of the first ‘adult fiction’ authors I read, and he set me on a course to write mystery and suspense thrillers. I’ve also been influenced by such diverse authors as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Loren D. Estleman, and Dennis Lehane.

Favourite thing to do aside from writing: Travel. Scuba diving and snow skiing. And, I am a complete, stark-raving-mad-movie-lover!

Advice for some considering a career in writing: Read Stephen King’s On Writing – I wish I would’ve read it sooner. It has so many good, practical suggestions on writing. And never, ever, give up.

What’s your poison? Lead-fired at high velocity.

Patrick Kendrick is the author of Acoustic Shadows, Killer Reads June Title of the Month–out now in eBook.