Today I'm delighted to welcome Louise Millar to the blog as part of her blog tour to talk about her latest psychological thriller The Hidden Girl.
When a country life dream turns into a nightmare . . .
Hannah Riley and her musician husband, Will, hope that a move to the Suffolk countryside will promise a fresh start.
Hannah, a human rights worker, is desperate for a child and she hopes that this new life will realise her dream.
Yet when the snow comes, Will is working in London and Hannah is cut off in their remote village. Life in Tornley turns out to be far from idyllic, who are the threatening figures who lurk near their property at night? And why is her neighbour so keen to see them leave? Plus Will's behaviour is severely testing the bonds of trust.
Hannah has spent her professional life doing the right thing for other people. But as she starts to unbury a terrible crime, she realises she can no longer do that without putting everything she's ever wanted at risk.
But if she does nothing, the next victim could be her . . .
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book The Hidden Girl?
It’s a psychological thriller about a couple, Hannah and Will, who move from a small London flat to a house in rural Suffolk, in a desperate attempt to improve their chances of adopting a child. But when Hannah finds herself cut off alone in heavy snow, she realizes that this apparently idyllic setting is actually a place of dark secrets and danger.
Is there a reason you chose Suffolk for Will and Hannah to relocate to for their fresh start?
Yes – all the times I’ve become lost there! I visit rural Suffolk a lot, and often find myself stuck in a maze of narrow, un-signposted country roads, trying to read a map. It seemed a perfect place to set a crime that is hidden from outsiders.
Where did the inspiration come from to write about infertility?
Hannah’s someone who’s always done the right thing in her personal life and in her career. Yet when she witnesses a crime near her new house, she becomes horribly conflicted. If she reports it, she knows the adoption agency will deem her new home unsafe for a child. That was my original premise – I wondered to what extent Hannah would betray her principles if it risked her last chance to become a parent.
How do you manage to combine working & family life with writing?
In many ways, it’s ideal because I’m at home, and I can work during school hours. The difficult part is detaching myself from writing a scary scene about night-time intruders to help make a space ship out of potatoes and glitter.
Do you plot your novels?
Yes – I’ve found that otherwise, a plot hole will suddenly appear at 60,000 words, and I’ll have to cut or rewrite a big chunk of existing text to fix it. For the next book, I’ve written a 60-page synopsis, which is a record for me, but it has made writing it much faster.
If you were going to look back on your career in the future, what do you hope to have achieved?
Right now, I’m just delighted to have had the chance to write four novels. I suppose my big dream would be to see a story I’ve written made into a film.
Are there any authors who inspired you when you were starting out on your writing career?
Lots! Cormac McCarthy, Anne Tyler, Raymond Carver and James Ellroy, to name a very few. But when it comes to writing psychological thrillers, I’m just as influenced by film. My recent favourite was Meek’s Cuttof, which is a chilling psychological suspense about a small group of American settlers in the 1840s. They become dangerously lost in vast, un-chartered territory, only to realise slowly that the trail guide they hired might actually be insane.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
I formed a writers group with two other women at my children’s school, and it was a great way for us all to set deadlines and receive constructive, honest feedback. I’m not sure I’d have written a whole novel without their support.
When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
Yes. I try to finish my novels in July, just when my husband, a teacher, and my kids finish term. I leave my laptop behind, and we head off on a long summer roadtrip. I take photographs, go canoeing, do some newspaper travel writing, read a whole pile of books... bliss. By the time I get back, I usually have ideas for the next novel.
Where would be your idyllic location for a writing retreat?
It would have to be a beautiful lake, somewhere like Sweden or Canada. I’d write all day overlooking the lake, then go for a swim. Afterwards, my husband would meet me with a glass of cold white wine, and tell me he’d found a brilliant TV box-set we’d missed, like The Wire or The Sopranos, with seven whole series to watch...
Thanks to the lovely Sam at Pan Macmillan, I have a copy of The Hidden Girl to giveaway to a follower.
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