Today we welcome psychological thriller writer A J Waines (Alison) to the blog. Alison will be in conversation with, well, me, on Wednesday 25th October from 7:30pm at The Docks Coffee House on Oxford Street. Tickets are available on Eventbrite (and include a cup of excellent coffee or tea).
Where are you from?
I moved to Hamble a year ago and before that I lived in Woolston, Southampton, for around 12 years. Before that, London, Reading, Birmingham and Manchester. I was originally born and brought up in Middlesbrough and seem to have spent my entire life working my way South!
Tell us about your books.
I’m thrilled to say my sixth book, Lost in the Lake, has just come out and there are two more in the pipeline. As a former psychotherapist, it was a natural progression for me when I first had a go at writing fiction to choose psychological thrillers as my genre. I’d worked with ex-convicts from high security institutions, so I felt I had some insight into the disturbed and criminal mind. I also love a good ‘murder mystery’, so as a result, my books tend to have both a tangled mystery on the surface and a dark psychological thriller lurking underneath, with that essential twist at the end, of course!
How long have you been an author and how did you get into writing?
I started writing fiction nine years ago and had no idea it would lead anywhere. I’d had a varied career, having been a professional musician (cellist), an administrator and a psychotherapist, with self-help books published. After fifteen years in the latter role, to be honest, I was burnt out and I was looking for something new.
What does a typical writing day look like?
I’m at my desk at around 8am and apart from a mini break at lunch, I tend to stay there all day and have to be peeled away from my keyboard when it’s supper time. I take notebooks with me everywhere if I need to go out, and I’m always jotting down ideas, but I can never focus in a park or coffee shop to do the real work. I wish I could! I can only work at home in my study with nothing but silence around me. For some jobs (answering emails, accounts), I can have music playing (Mozart’s Requiem is a favourite), but not during the creative cycle itself, such as plotting, drafting, editing. My work involves so many different areas – from ideas for the cover design, marketing, interviews, social media publicity, as well as the actual writing, so it’s incredibly varied and I never get bored.
Tell us something interesting that has occurred since you became a writer.
People often ask me if I’m traditionally published or self-published. In fact, I fall into the odd category of ‘hybrid’ author as my books are traditionally published in translations abroad, produced in audiobook by a US publisher, but in the UK, they’re independently published. I have an agent, but we’ve turned down UK deals, because they haven’t been able to match the returns I’ve achieved by producing the books myself. With many publishers struggling to stay afloat, author’s advances are not what they used to be.
What do you like most about Southampton?
I moved to Hamble a year ago, because it’s a stunning tranquil spot by the marina and I love water; it features in all my novels in some way. Hamble has the feel of a rural village, but with easy links to the city. My favourite aspects of Southampton itself are the Harbour Lights’ cinema, Ocean Village, Victoria Country Park and West Quay (especially the John Lewis store!) My favourite restaurant is La Tavernetta near the civic centre and my favourite stop for coffee is probably Waterstones, but I plan to try out several of the new restaurants that have appeared in the exciting complex nearby. With a buzzing student population, the city has got everything.
When I wrote my second psychological thriller, it was originally called Dead in her Tracks. My agent at the time, decided it would benefit from a better title and we settled on Girl on a Train. To some readers that might sound familiar – or does it? Sometimes fate can play a strange and unexpected hand in the life of a book.
As the person Alison will be in conversation with, I can say we’ll be talking more about that! Do join us on 25th. Tickets can be bought here. The price includes a hot drink.
Listen to Alison speak about her previous title, Inside The Whispers