5 Questions With Author Samantha Hayes @samhayes

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.


GIVEAWAY & Interview With Author Lorena Hughes @SisterLorena

UPDATE: THE WINNER IS LINDA ❤! https://lindasbookbag.com/ 

This week is the one-year anniversary of The Sisters of Alameda Streetwhich was one of my favorite books in 2017! Lorena Hughes is joining my blog today and I’m hosting a giveaway of a signed book (hardcover) for USA, UK & Canada. You have 1 week to enter!

The Sisters of Alameda Street has all the ingredients you could possibly want in a novel: mystery, drama, humor, and even some romance. It’s fantastic! During this past year, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Lorena a bit more through e-mails, and she’s become my inspiration!


Can you tell us more about The Sisters of Alameda Street and the journey to publication?

The Sisters of Alameda Street is a generational saga set in my native Ecuador that flits between the 1930s and the 1960s. It’s a blend of mystery, tango dancing, and hidden romances.

The novel tells the story of Malena Sevilla, a young woman with two goals in life: to become as good a nurse as her late mother had been (her aversion to blood is just one minor detail, in her opinion) and to be the perfect daughter to her mathematical-genius father. What isn’t in the blueprint is her father’s dramatic and unexpected suicide. Nor did she anticipate to find a letter (signed with an A) which reveals that her mother is still alive and just ten hours away.

Searching for answers, Malena takes the next bus to San Isidro—a quaint town tucked in the Andes Mountains—and arrives at Alameda Street, where she meets four sisters who couldn’t be more different from one another, but who share one thing in common: all of their names begin with an A. To avoid a scandal, Malena assumes another woman’s identity, a tactic that goes against every ethical rule she’d ever been taught, but one she is willing to bend to find her mother. However, living a lie will bring Malena a new set of problems, such as falling for a forbidden man and loving a family she may lose when they discover her deceit. What’s worse, the truth she so craves may wreck her life forever.

The book took nearly 20 years from conception to finish product because I’d originally conceived it as a Latin American soap opera. When I married and moved to the US, I realized that my best chance to get this story out into the world would be to write it as a novel in English. Little did I know that it would take three critique groups, three complete rewrites, two agents, and many rejection letters to finally find a home at Skyhorse Publishing in 2017!

What is your writing routine? Has it changed during the last few years?

I normally write during the day while my kids are at school. When I started this project, they were very little so I wrote during their nap time, but now that they are older I have more flexibility and longer periods of writing.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment, I’m revising a historical mystery about a Spanish woman who inherits her father’s cocoa plantation in Ecuador in 1919. During her travels across the Atlantic, a man tries to murder her and ends up killing her husband. Terrified about what awaits her in an unknown land, she dresses up as her husband and arrives to a Coastal town known as Little Paris because of its resemblance to the French capital. There, she meets three siblings she didn’t know existed and a couple of other suspicious characters who also live in the hacienda—any of whom could have plotted her murder. In the next few days, she must hastily find enough clues to help her identify her nemesis, if she doesn’t want to be discovered and end up with a similar fate as her husband’s.

How has your life changed since the publication of The Sisters of Alameda Street?

My life is essentially the same, except that now I’m invited to speaking engagements (I had to learn to speak in public very quickly!) Also, people I don’t know sometimes approach me and talk to me about my novel—I love it. This year was very special for me because I met lots of interesting people, including many authors that I admire.

What are your hobbies besides writing?

Dancing (especially salsa and merengue), solving puzzles (no more than 1,000 pieces, please!), reading, and going to the theatre. I also love to draw portraits and paint watercolors.

What are some of your favorite recent reads? And an all-time favorite?

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of novels by Liane Moriarty. One of my favorites from her is Three Wishes. I love how she infuses humor in otherwise dramatic situations. I also enjoyed Susan Meissner’s Secrets of a Charmed Life—beautifully written. I have many all-time favorites, but one of the books that started my love for literature was a novel by Brazilian author José Mauro de Vasconcelos called My Orange Lemon Plant.


5 Questions With Author Jenni L Walsh @JenniLWalsh

Welcome to my blog, Jenni, and thank you so much for answering these questions! Jenni L Walsh is the writer of Becoming Bonnie and Side by Side and I will read anything she writes!

Tell me a bit about your new book Side by Side. Is it the last book?

Side by Side brings Bonnie and Clyde’s infamous twenty-seven-month crime spree to life–through the eyes of Bonnie Parker herself. It was an emotional challenge to write, but I’m excited for readers to see the ups, downs, shootouts, car chases, et al. through her lens. For those who’ve seen the 1967 film, my story is quite a bit different. The film is very loosely based on real life.

Yes, Side by Side is the last book. I also wrote Becoming Bonnie, which is a prequel to Side by Side. That one tells the origin story of Bonnie before Clyde and how she becomes part of the infamous duo, bringing their backgrounds to life during the Roaring Twenties. Really, the books are standalones and can be read in either order.

How has your life changed since the publication of Becoming Bonnie?

I’d written and set aside a couple of books before Becoming Bonne hit shelves. It was a wonderful feeling to have years and years (and years) of hard work pay-off. My family has made a lot of sacrifices for me to go after my dreams, so I’m very thankful and feel very fortunate. Every time I hear from a reader, my day is made.

What are you working on at the moment?

I can’t say too much, but I’m working on a novel that’s set during the California gold rush, featuring another real-life lady. I’m loving this story and hope to bring it to readers.

What are your hobbies?

With a two-year-old and a four-year-old, I don’t have a ton of time for myself. I know other mamas are nodding along, haha. When I do have downtime, I’m usually reading. Before kids, I was a bit of a workout junkie and spent chunks of time training for marathons, triathlons, etc. Maybe I’ll do that again someday, but for now, I try to hop on my spin bike for thirty minutes or so. A good workout can be so recharging.

What are some of your favorite recent reads? And an all-time favorite?

I’ve always been fascinated with the Romanovs, so I jumped at the chance to read the latest from Ariel Lawhon (I Was Anastasia) and C.W. Gorner (The Romanov Empress). My Romanov itch has been wonderfully scratched for the time being!


5 Questions With Author Kristen Lepionka @KMLwrites

So excited to have one of my favorite authors, Kristen Lepionka, answers some questions for my blog! Thank you so much for agreeing to do this. And for all of you reading, go buy What You Want To See!

Tell me a bit about your new book and how you came up with the idea.

WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE opens with a case that seems ordinary—following around Marin Strasser to prove that she’s cheating on her fiancé. But it turns out that her many secrets are a lot more complicated than infidelity. Without giving away anything, I can say that I came up with the idea in part after watching a true-crime documentary about fraud. It got me thinking that it takes a special kind of criminal to lie to your face to get you to give them what they want of your own free will (as opposed to just taking it by force).

How has your life changed since the publication of The Last Place You Look?

I’ve done more public speaking in the last year than I had in my previous thirty-three years (and probably in a couple past lives as well). Giving presentations is something that I’ve actually always been terrified of, so not only have I done a lot of it, but I’ve gotten a lot better at it. I still get wildly nervous beforehand—thanks, anxiety disorder—but it’s totally different than it was a year ago at this time. I gave a talk to a group of fourth graders about being a writer a few months back (not about my book, specifically, of course; it’s not exactly fourth-grade appropriate) and one of the kids asked me, “Do you live in a mansion?” The answer is no. That is not among the ways my life has changed.

Did you always want to write mystery novels? What made you fall in love with the genre?

Oh, always, always. I grew up reading mysteries and had dreams of writing a private investigator series when I was like twelve or thirteen. Yes, I was a weird kid. I fell in love with mysteries from reading SAM THE CAT DETECTIVE by Linda Stewart, a middle-grade book whose premise you can surmise from the title. But I loved the way the story was told, and how the truth was revealed gradually. From there I graduated to Mary Higgins Clark, Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton, etc. I also watched way too much television growing up as an only child, back when A & E showed actual entertainment instead of reality shows about parking garages or whatever they’re doing now. In the afternoons I’d watch Law & Order, Mike Hammer, Spenser for Hire, Magnum PI, The Rockford Files. It was basically inevitable that I’d turn out this way.

What do you usually do on publication day? Do you have a tradition?

Last year I went out for breakfast with my girlfriend, and then to every Barnes & Noble in the city so I could take a selfie with my book. I was also prepping for my release party that night, so I was a little frazzled. This year, my party is a few days later, so I’ll have time to chill out and savor it.

What are some of your favorite recent reads? And an all-time favorite?

I just finished FORCE OF NATURE by Jane Harper, who I appeared on a panel with last year at the Harrogate/Theakstons Old Peculier crime writing festival in England. Her first book was excellent, but her second was absolutely stunning. I want to watch a movie of this book, like, now. I also recently read Jennifer Egan’s MANHATTAN BEACH. Her writing is so good it gives me chills. The book is historical fiction with a noir thriller angle, so, very different from her other, more literary work, and it was essentially the best of both worlds. As for an all-time favorite, I can read THE DRIFTLESS AREA by Tom Drury again and again (I always take it on airplanes for this reason). It’s kind of a noir ghost story. For mystery-specific faves, it doesn’t get much better than Raymond Chandler’s THE LONG GOODBYE.


5 Questions With Author Emily Carpenter @EmilyDCarpenter

I recently finished reading Every Single Secret by Emily Carpenter and didn’t want to miss the chance of interviewing such a great author. Thank you, Emily, for taking the time to answer these questions and do it so quickly!

1. Tell me a bit about your new book and how you came up with the idea.

I fell in love with the movie Ex Machina, which is a sci-fi/horror film that takes place in this creepy, modern house in the middle of nowhere (I think they filmed it in a hotel in Norway). I became enamored with the idea of writing a suspense thriller that unfolds in one house. A bit of a locked-door mystery, although not precisely following all the conventions of that genre. I wanted to explore that claustrophobic feeling of knowing something is wrong but not being able to run away or actively do anything to solve the mystery, other than tiptoe up staircases and around dark corners and being stuck in a house with a group of people, one of whom is definitely up to no good.

2. How has your life changed since the publication of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls?

I have this career that I’d always dreamed of, but always had felt was a bit out of reach. The joy of getting paid – actual real money – to make up stories and characters and settings, whole worlds, never diminishes, I’ve got to be honest. I’m really grateful and having so much fun. I am a lot busier than I’ve ever been, but my family is super supportive and has really stepped up to help fill in the gaps of the things I used to do. I’m kind of a one-thing-at-a-time person, so I find juggling or multi-tasking really difficult. I’ve just had to let some things go. Like the laundry. Bye, bye, laundry.

3. What are you working on at the moment?

My fourth book, UNTIL THE DAY I DIE, is a bit of departure for me, but a fun one. It’s an adventure thriller that centers around two really smart, resourceful women – a mother and her teenage daughter – who find themselves in jeopardy and have to save each other with their smarts and guts and determination. It’s also set on an imaginary tropical island, which is different and involves an aspect of tech – a mobile app – which has been so much fun to incorporate into the story.

4. What are your hobbies?

Writing used to be my hobby, so I need to find a new one, don’t I? I used to dance Argentine tango, but my husband wasn’t into it, so after a few years, I was ready to give it up because it just wasn’t fun to spend all that time apart from him. I would LOVE it if he took it up, but that’s not going to happen. He’s just not the dancing type. I enjoy working out, I need it, but I wouldn’t really consider it a hobby. I do like to binge-watch TV shows. But I don’t think that’s considered a hobby, it’s just being lazy!

5. What are some of your favorite recent reads? And an all-time favorite?

I just read WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT CHARLIE, OUTLAW and I’m 100% in love with it. I’m going to be facilitating a discussion with the author Leah Stewart soon, and I’m so in awe of what she did in the novel, I have to remind myself not to utterly fangirl, so I can pretend to be dignified and ask coherent questions. Before that, the book that knocked me out was EILEEN by Otessa Moshfegh. The main character is so unlikeable that you can’t help but adore her. An all-time favorite is, of course, REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier. And I may have named the main character in EVERY SINGLE SECRET after the author. Or I may have named her after that classic crime-solving sleuth who looks so fetching in purple, Daphne from Scooby-Doo. It’s all open for interpretation.