Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Lies, Lies Lies - interview with Rona Halsall

Week four of my psychological thriller series and this week I'm delighted to welcome fellow Bookouture author Rona Halsall to my blog. Rona has written four thrillers, with her fifth coming out next May. 

I hope you enjoy the interview.

Do you remember the moment you decided you wanted to be a writer?

Hmmm. Tricky one. I’m not sure there was a precise moment. I think it was an idea for many, many years that I’d like to have a go at writing a novel and that was the goal – just to get a story written. I think once I started though, I loved the process and then my ambitions grew. I felt like I’d found something I wanted to pursue to a higher level. So my first challenge was getting it finished. Then I pitched to an agent at a literary festival and she liked my writing. Once I realised my first story wasn’t going anywhere, I wrote another and worked on that, my ambition being to get an agent. Once I had an agent, my ambition was to get a publisher. And once I had a publisher, then I had a two book deal, so had to come up with another story. So it’s been an incremental process rather than one definitive decision!

What were you like at school? Would your English teacher be surprised to see that you have become a published author?

I was the kid who did other people’s coursework essays for them because I just loved making things up. It was my favourite subject and one of the few lessons where I actively joined in, so I don’t think my English teacher would be that surprised.

How long did it take you to write Her Mother’s Lies?

Crikey that’s another tricky one, because where does the writing start? Is it with that nugget of an idea that slowly blossoms into a story line over weeks, maybe months as you daydream your way through the washing up? Or is it actively putting words on paper? 

The story for Her Mother’s Lies didn’t come fully formed – it developed over time, starting with a what if question that gradually grew into an outline over a period of months. Once I had my outline, the first draft was written from start to finish in just over a month. Then I had another month for the first round of edits, by which time, most of the wrinkles had been ironed out. After that, the second round of edits was a matter of tweaking little bits of the plot and finessing the ending. Then there’s copy edits and proofreading before the book can be considered finished. The whole process takes about 6 months from writing the first word to having a printed book in my hand.

I love the cover. How important do you think the cover is to a potential reader?

I think the cover is key to a reader because if that doesn’t attract their attention, they won’t even bother reading the blurb. But it’s so hard to illustrate the concept of a book with one image – I have the greatest respect for cover designers! And I would have to admit to being a bit of a cover nerd. Yes, I have bought books just because I like the cover!

Are you a pantster or do you plot?

My very first book, I was a pantser, but as I’m with a digital publisher and the pace is quick, I’ve come to understand the value of plotting! And I think psychological thrillers need a bit of careful plotting if the twists are going to work. We love an unexpected twist, don’t we?

Can you tell my readers something about the main character that will make us want to find out more about them?

The main character in Her Mother’s Lies is Martha, a 24 year old animal nurse who still lives at home in rural Cornwall with her diabetic mother, who is also an alcoholic. They have a tricky relationship and Martha feels trapped. After Martha loses her job, they have an argument, her mother drinks herself into a diabetic coma and Martha finds a shocking message on her mother’s phone. That’s the first lie. But there’s more and in her search for the truth, the web of lies that has shaped Martha’s life starts to unravel.

What have you found to be the most difficult thing about writing a novel?

I think structural edits are the hardest stage. That’s when you get feedback from your editor and you sometimes have to turn the whole story upside down and inside out. Or chop big chunks out and put new chunks in. It’s definitely the part that makes my brain ache as I try to keep hold of all the different story threads while I make the changes!

Do you have a special time for writing? How is your day structured?

I like to get up early and write first thing in the morning when everything is peaceful and quiet and before the jobs of the day have to be tackled. But I tend to split my day into chunks – before breakfast, mid morning and then afternoon. That’s the theory anyway, although life often has different plans!

How much research did you have to do for Her Mother’s Lies?

The story is set in Cornwall, so I had to find the right location and get a feel of what would work best for the story, find out where hospitals were etc. Then I had a fair bit of medical research as well, but I really love that stage as you don’t know where it will lead you!

We share the same lovely publisher, Bookouture. In what ways have they helped you with your writing journey?

Bookouture have been amazing!  I love the working relationship I have with my editor and feel the more books we do together, the more we understand each other and the better we work together. My books are so much better with her input and ideas. The editing process is very thorough at Bookouture as well, so there are lots of opportunities to make improvements and fine tune your story to make it the best it can be. They also do great covers, have an excellent marketing and PR team and the audio version they’ve done for Her Mother’s Lies is fabulous.  The other great thing is the author’s lounge, a Facebook group where we can go and have a chat to fellow authors, ask questions, have a moan, procrastinate. It makes you feel connected because writing is a very solitary occupation.

What next for Rona Halsall?
More psychological thrillers! I have two more books out next year. The first, which I’ve written and am editing now, is out at the beginning of May and the second is out at the end of September.

I am also going to make sure I get to the Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate next year as I haven’t been able to get there yet and it looks so much fun – meeting readers and other authors, lots of chatting – maybe see you there?

Rona is the author of Best Selling psychological thrillers HER MOTHER'S LIES, THE HONEYMOON, LOVE YOU and KEEP YOU SAFE.

She lives on the Isle of Man with her husband, two dogs and three guinea pigs. She is an outdoorsy person and loves stomping up a mountain, walking the coastal paths and exploring the wonderful glens and beaches on the island while she's plotting how to kill off her next victim. She has three children and two step-children who are now grown up and leading varied and interesting lives, which provides plenty of ideas for new stories!

To find out more about Rona's novels, go to or follow @RonaHalsall on Twitter or Instagram @ronahalsall.

Amazon author page: hhtps://


  1. I enjoyed the interview. Her Mother's Lies sounds like a must read.

  2. Aw thansk you Allan, I hope you enjoy it!

  3. Research is one of the fun bits about writing – I especially like checking out locations.

    Or, to be more precise, I love the fact that writing means I can be really nosy and go to lots of places and excuse it all as research.

    1. I agree, researching a novel is part of the fun.