Sarah Hilary wrote one of the best crime novels I have read this year, Someone Else’s Skin, and created a kick-ass female character, DI Marnie Rome. In between such awersomeness, she had time to answer some of my questions. Enjoy!
A. I’d always read crime and a good friend (good enough to get away with pointing out what a very dark mind I have) said I should be writing it. It took me a long time to get to grips with the demand of the genre, but now I feel at home here.
A. Thank you, yes I love Marnie’s complexity too. She’s giving up her secrets very slowly, which is perfect since I’m writing a series. She walked into a scene I was writing in another story and she surprised me, which is exactly what I want from a character. I’m not at all like her, although a tiny part of me wishes I had her courage.
A. I didn’t set out to write about issues, but since I set the story in a women’s refuge it was inevitable that some of the problems which drove the women there would emerge from their stories. It’s always the characters, though, rather than the problems that drive the story for me.
A. Prowling libraries; I become very restless when I’m starting something new, searching for the spark of a story. Then I start scribbling in notebooks, lists of questions mainly and lists of twists. When the time’s right, I sit down and work hard: a minimum word count every day until I’ve done a first (thin, fast) draft which I’ll layer over time. One thing I discovered when working on the second draft of book two was how much time I need to let the story live and breathe in my head; sometimes you have to step away from the keyboard and just think. Walking helps enormously, too.
A. Stacks! For starters, the Patricia Highsmith books (not just the Ripley ones). The Collector by John Fowles, and Innocent Blood by PD James. More recently, the Adamsberg series by Fred Vargas. And The Wicked Girls, and The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood.