Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Someone is Lying - interview with Jenny Blackhurst

How exciting! Another week and another author in my psychological thriller author series. Today, it's the turn of, Jenny Blackhurst whose debut, How I Lost You, became an Amazon No 1 bestseller. I love interviews as you never know what the answers will be and they're always very different and fascinating. This one is no exception!

You’ve written several psychological thrillers. Have you always written in this genre?

I have, but I didn’t imagine I would. I’ve always enjoyed reading crime and thought one day I would write a detective novel. I wrote my first psych thriller a bit by accident and my publishers wanted more, then that became my genre.

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when the idea for your latest novel came to you?

It doesn’t really work like that for me – there’s rarely one single moment of inspiration, more like a slow dripping of small ideas that form together. It’s usually at the most inconvenient of times too, like in the shower or when I’m driving.

Are you a plotter or a pantster and how long does it take you to write your thrillers?

I’m a plotter now – although my first book was pantsed, I’ve plotted all the others. I really enjoy the plotting phase. First drafts take me around four months then there’s a couple of months of edits. I really should write faster now I’m full time but I don’t seem to get any more done than when I had a day job.

Could you describe your typical writing day?

I don’t have one! I considered answering these questions as the writer I should be, rather than the writer I actually am – I have a lovely office and I should be in there around 9am, surrounded by books and inspirational quotes, writing until the sun goes down and my pencils are stubs. In reality I do a lot of writing in front of the fire in my front room, or in bed! My kids come home at 3.30, which wouldn’t be an issue if I was in the office but as I’m not they are far too shouty for me to concentrate so I usually give up and pretend to do housework.

I’m sure my readers would love to hear about your road to publication. Was it long and winding or did you take a short cut?

I was very lucky in my publication journey. I started writing my first novel after being made redundant when my son was 4 weeks old – it was published before he was three. Psychological thrillers were on the rise and my book was just very well timed. I didn’t have any contacts at all – in fact my editor asked me who I knew in the world of publishing and my answer was a very tentative, ‘you?’

Do you see anything of yourself in any of your characters?

When I wrote How I Lost You I poured a lot of myself into Susan – not the way she acts or speaks but a lot of her feelings about motherhood and how terrifying it is and her loss of identity. Some of my sense of humour went into Cassie, her best friend, who is still one of my favourite characters to date (maybe because I think she’s hilarious!). I think writers sprinkle a little of themselves into all of their characters – except the psychopathic villains of course.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Everything! Obviously reading, fiction and non-fiction, watching TV – especially true crime. I could lose a few days doing a Wasjig (it’s a jigsaw where you don’t get given the picture) and I like to learn things – I learned how to do a Rubix cube in under three and a half minutes, learned how to crochet, magic tricks – then once I’ve conquered the skill I promptly give up.

What does your family think of your writing?

They are incredibly proud of me. My kids tell everyone their mum is an author and if they spot one of my books in a shop they can be very embarrassing. Same goes for my mum, actually. My mother in law is called Jenny Blackhurst and has pretended to be me twice.

What suggestions do you have to help a writer write better?

‘Write better’ is very subjective – one person’s bad writing is another person’s favourite book! My advice to new writers would be to read a lot – it’s the absolute best way to learn how to tell a good story. Films are also brilliant for learning about structure (especially Disney), even video games. Inhale any form of storytelling and you can’t help but improve. Plus I just gave you an excuse to read and watch Disney. You’re welcome.

What next for Jenny Blackhurst?

Unfortunately that’s top secret classified information. So classified I’m not entirely sure myself! I have a couple of things going on and am quite excited to see where they go but until I know more my lips are sealed.

Jenny Blackhurst grew up in Shropshire where she still lives with her husband, two children, hamster, twelve chickens and dog. Her first book How I Lost You was published in 2014 and became an Amazon No 1 bestseller. In the years that have followed Jenny has written four more books, been published all over the world and sold over half a million copies in the UK alone, winning the Silver Nielsen Award in 2017.

You can buy Someone is Lying HERE