Can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel Killing Eva?
Eva is a character from my first book (Lethal Profit). Her brother was murdered by forces unknown - and then she starts getting phone calls apparently from him. In this book she becomes something of a science experiment and is challenged by people she thought she knew, and by some pretty brutal strangers, to retain her sanity and to live.
Which character did you have the most fun creating?
Leon. He's such a brooding Frenchman and I love those. But he's also quite a complex character with some unexpected sides to him and we don't really know who he is yet. Some of my friends who read Lethal Profit have a huge crush on him. He wasn't really written as a love interest, more a foil. But there's definitely something that connects him and Eva so who knows where it will go.
How much research did you have to do to enable you to write Killing Eva?
The book is a 'what if' scenario so although it didn't have to be accurate to something that already existed, it needed to be grounded in enough fact to be believable and also to be plausible. So I researched economies, corporates and financial systems and the way they work, as well as what you can do to someone's brain to cause them to see things as you want them to see things and the meeting point between human biology and technology. I also had to go and party in Berlin, which was a terrible hardship.
Can you describe Killing Eva in one sentence?
A brutal loss of control
What can we expect from you next?
I am working on the third book in the Eva Scott series, which I hope will follow this one fairly quickly. It's tech focused - looking at this idea that evolution has not equipped us to visualise the threats that come with such high speed innovation, or to deal with them. I'm a huge fan of technology so it's not a technophobe's rant, more an exploration of the havoc it could wreak and why we're not more wary of it.
I'm also working on a fashion startup - www.theglasspineapple.com - perfect for anyone interested in emerging designers and independent brands.
How did your writing journey start?
It started with a love of reading. I had a library card as soon as I could read and every weekend I'd go and stock up on books. I went from Sweet Valley High and Mallory Towers to thrillers and crime books. That was where I really started to get gripped. I've always been good at storytelling and I just find it so exciting to be able to create this story with all these different elements, ideas, people and plots.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Start writing. What you put down on the page doesn't have to be the finished product. In fact, it won't be the finished product. But the process of writing is the first step and will trigger what comes next. I think you need to have put a lot of thought into a book and once you've done that then you can start writing from a skeleton plot on a page or two.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I have a full time copywriting job and I'm launching a fashion startup so it's a huge juggling exercise. I have to prioritise the book writing for the more creative hours of my brain so I get up and do it at 6am when there's no one except the dog to interrupt me. I might then do some more mid - late evening but the afternoons are when I'm at my most listless so I tend to do all the 'task' based jobs then.
Are you a plotter or do you prefer to see where a storyline takes you?
I've only written two books but I've found it better to plot a skeleton structure as I don't want the story to get lost. The end point is especially important. But I don't like to plot in too much detail I like it when it takes on a life of its own.
What would you say is the hardest thing about writing?
It makes me feel very vulnerable! No matter how hard I try to remove bits of myself people still say 'oh I know so much more about you after reading that.' I'm not sure what they think they're learning! But there's no doubt that you can get clues about an author from their work. I didn't really think about that when I started to write, I just wanted to tell a story.
What writers inspire you?
I loved Henning Mankell's books and I also enjoyed all the Robert Ludlum original Bourne books and Le Carre. There are some great new generation crime writers too - Sarah Hillary, Sarah Ward, Eva Dolan and Gillian Flynn's female characters are complex and smart. I'm not exclusive to crime and thrillers though, I like to read a lot of different styles, from John Fante to Marlon James.
If you could write in a collaboration with another author, who would you like to write with?
I worked briefly with the late Henning Mankell - in that he read Lethal Profit, gave me some feedback and advice and then offered to be involved in Killing Eva too. I would have loved to have collaborated with him. I don't know if that was his style - but I'd have found it very inspiring.
If you could write another style of genre, what genre would it be and why?
I'm also writing a book about modern dating/what it is to be a woman these days and I'm enjoying that. It's more humorous and there's lots of sex in it!
If you could invite any three authors, alive or dead, to a dinner party who would you choose?
Hunter S Thompson
F Scott Fiztgerald
Sorry I know that's 4, I couldn't pick!
Do you get much spare time for reading? And if so, does being a writer affect the way you see books as a reader?
Of course you notice things yes. But it would be a real shame to destroy the experience of being a reader by only being able to experience books as a writer. I'm not keen for that to happen. I don't get enough time for reading, no. That's a resolution to change in 2016.
What’s the last book you’ve read that has made you cry?
The Diary of Anne Frank. I read it again recently after watching a TV show about it. Now I'm older I find it really heartbreaking.
Where would be your idyllic location for a writing retreat?
I think it would be a trip rather than one location - a beach one month, a buzzing city the next, high up in the mountains after that. I find I'm quite stimulated creatively by moving around and seeing and doing new things. Obviously I'd have to have a quiet room wherever I was where I could shut the door...
Are you going to treat yourself to something nice to celebrate the publication of your novel?
I might accidentally already have done that. Shoes. Amazing shoes.
Killing Eva by Alex Blackmore is published by No Exit Press, Paperback £7.99 and ebook