Hi Caz! Let's get started. Who are your favorite authors?
- Don Winslow - The Force is one of those books that you just don’t want to end because you know the next few books will never measure up! His dialogue is superb and his books read like movie scripts. So vivid and cinematic. He also manages to make the entirely bad guys sympathetic and that’s a skill in itself.
- Gillian Flynn - While Gone Girl gets all the glory, Sharp Objects is my favourite - so bleak and disturbing but with a black sense of humour that I really enjoy. This novel definitely influenced Sweet Little Lies.
- Lynda La Plante - I read my first LLP twenty years ago and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. She’s such a natural storyteller and her Anna Travis series is first-class.
- Megan Abbot - I’m shamefully late to the Megan Abbot party and I’m currently working my way through her backlist. LOVE finding an established author with a body of work I can immerse myself in!
What are your writing rituals?
Definitely a creature of habit! I write best in the morning so I’m up by around 6am and I’ll generally write until 1/2pm when I stop for lunch. I’ll usually go back to it for a few hours but after around 3pm, I find my mind starts to wander. I wish I was one of those authors who could write on trains, in hotels rooms, in cafes etc, but I need to be on my sofa in complete silence. If I also have a Jo Malone scented candle and a cup of tea by side, there’s no stopping my word count 🙂
Would you define yourself as a plotter or a pantster?
1000% plotter. I’m in awe of writers who just start with an idea and see where it leads. I spend at least 4-6 weeks plotting out my novels before I start writing them. I write detailed chapter plans and then put it all into a colour-coded Excel spreadsheet so I can see what the pacing’s like, where the red herrings should come etc. Of course, I do occasionally go off on a tangent and I don’t always stick to the plan. But I definitely need to know where I’m headed - and whodunnit!
What has your querying journey been like?
In two words - not typical! Sweet Little Lies won a big, heavily publicised, writing competition in the UK called ‘Search for a Bestseller’. Aspiring writers were invited to submit the first 10,000 words of their novel-in-progress and SLL, along with seven other novels were shortlisted. We all had 6 months to finish the manuscripts. I did and I won! Competitions can be a great way to get noticed, even if you don’t win. A couple of the other novels on the shortlist have since gone on to be published.
How long did it take you to write Sweet Little Lies?
In total, around 2 years, which I think is about average for a first novel when you’re not writing under a contract and you have a full-time day job. My second novel, Stone Cold Heart took around 8-9 months. Thankfully, I now write full-time.
How much of you is there in Cat?
That’s an interesting question as my husband says that when he reads my novels, he always hears my voice! Look, nothing that happens to Cat in Sweet Little Lies has ever happened to me, but my parents are both from the west coast of Ireland, I spent many holidays there etc, so there’s definitely some element of ‘write what you know.’ Also, because I write in the first person, I think it’s almost impossible to stop your own personality bleeding in from time to time. I’d like to think that we have a similar sense of humour but I’m a lot less neurotic than Cat (although authors are, by nature, neurotic!)
What is your favorite thing about Sweet Little Lies?
Tough one! I really enjoy writing the tense head-to-heads between Cat and her Dad, and actually all of the family stuff. Obviously, Cat’s family are extremely dysfunctional and not representative of the typical family unit, but I hope there’s something there that most people can relate to - sibling rivalry, favouritism, petty arguments. Oh and I also love writing DCI Kate Steele - she’s the woman I want to be when I grow up 🙂
What’s your current project?
Stone Cold Heart, the follow-up to Sweet Little Lies, came out in July and I’m currently writing the third Cat Kinsella novel - as yet untitled. I’m always brimming with ideas though. Too many novels to write, too little time!
Thanks for taking the time to interview with us! Good luck with your upcoming books!