Welcome to my blog, Sam! Thank you so much for answering these questions and sorry it’s taken me so long to post them! If you still don’t know her, Samantha Hayes is an amazing author of many psychological thrillers, including: Tell Me A Secret, The Reunion, In Too Deep, You Belong To Me, and my favorite: Until You’re Mine.
I love how you always introduce a shocking ending in your stories. How do you come up with such twists? Do you know where you’re going from the beginning?
When I first began writing, I never really used to know how the book would end and sort of allowed the characters to take me where they wanted. This is fine to a certain point but, many books down the line now, I do like to plan out the entire book in advance. That’s not to say I still can’t be surprised by my characters though, as lots of new ideas and extra ‘mini’ twists do occur to me along the way. And I think this helps keep the book fresh. If it’s a surprise for me, then it will be for my readers too! So I do like to have a pretty good idea of where I’m going from the outset (also because it saves a lot of time) but I still love nothing more than my characters developing and leading the way.
As for how I come up with the twists, I think it’s important to always consider the unexpected – and then wring that out some more! I put my characters through some tough times, but also my readers too, in that I lead them down many twisty/turny paths before actually revealing that nothing was actually what it seemed. It’s not about deceiving the reader, of course, but rather making the reality they’re reading and experiencing so real that they’re convinced they’re right! But it’s really hard to say exactly where the twists come from. Probably some deep, dark place in my mind!
How has your life changed since the publication of Blood Ties?
Well, I now get to do what I love as my full-time job rather than squeezing writing time in whenever I can manage, which is fantastic! Literally, a dream come true. But it’s not been without a huge amount of hard work, tenacity and never giving up. I’ve been writing for what seems like forever but only got published around 2003/4, so it’s been a long journey. I treat writing like a normal job/career and I’m pretty disciplined with my working hours, though of course working for myself, the flexibility is great – especially when my kids were young. But it’s still really hard work and I’m at my desk most days either writing, editing or catching up with admin (or all of those things!). So I suppose in terms of how my life has changed, I’d say I’m working harder than ever – but absolutely loving it!
What do you usually do on publication day? Do you have a tradition?
I think, maybe like most authors, my publication day tradition is opening a bottle of something sparkling! And breathing a huge sigh of relief (as well as much nail-biting as reader reviews start to roll in!). I also seem to spend a lot of time on social media on publication day, sharing posts and chatting with readers about the new book. It’s great! But by evening, it’s definitely time to go out and celebrate. And then the next day, it’s back to the work in progress.
What are your hobbies?
While I used to look at writing as a hobby way back, it’s very much in the ‘work/job’ category now and has been for about fourteen years, which isn’t meant to mean I don’t enjoy it – I most certainly do. But rather, for fun and relaxation, I prefer to do things completely different – and to get away from the laptop. I love gardening and getting my hands dirty, though I admit to being a bit of a fair-weather gardener. I used to grow a lot of my own vegetables, but time is a bit too short for that these days. So I concentrate more on keeping the weeds down and trying to encourage a few flowers! I also took up salsa dancing recently and, while I may not be ready for Strictly Come Dancing yet, it’s sociable, great fun and gets me moving! And I love going to the cinema, theatre, cooking, and there’s nothing better than a catch-up with good friends down at the local pub!
What are some of your favorite recent reads? And an all-time favorite?
I’ve sadly not had a massive amount of time to read much recently as by the end of this year I’ll have written and edited three books in about fourteen months! But standout reads for me lately have been Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson and He Said She Said by Erin Kelly. And my all-time favourite would have to be Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. My favourite English teacher at school brought the book into class and described the inspiring story to us. I was captivated and when she set the task of us writing the opening, I gave it my all! I loved creative writing at school. I’d never read the book at that point, but it turned out that my attempt at the opening paragraphs were very similar to the actual book so I took that as a sign that I’d one day become a writer. I devoured the book that evening and loved every word. So inspirational! So that’s always my ‘go to’ favourite book whenever I need a little ‘oomph’ to keep going.