Welcome to Shelfbuzz, Adam. Normally we start things off with a discussion of your main character, but Her Last Tomorrow has an irresistible premise which is stated right on the cover: Could you murder your wife to save your daughter? Tell us about that.
I get asked this is a lot, but I still don’t know where the idea came from. I play with characters, situations and circumstances a lot. You can’t wait for ideas to come to you in this game. I like to have perfectly normal people in perfectly normal situations, then turn it all upside down and see what happens. I just write the books I want to read.
You have a complex main character, Nick, who has been likened to Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. Give us an introduction to Nick and his problem.
Nick Connor is a writer and stay-at-home dad who means well but often fails to be the husband and father he’d like to be. He’s got a bit of a murky past and isn’t known for making the best decisions under pressure. When his five-year-old daughter, Ellie, is kidnapped, Nick’s life is thrown into a tailspin. In exchange for his daughter’s safe return, Nick must murder his wife.
Wow. Well, we don’t want to venture into spoiler territory, so let’s leave it at that and change gears a bit. You mentioned that you write books that you yourself would want to read. Please elaborate.
For me, the number one rule when writing is to make the reader forget they’re reading. For a book to be truly ‘gripping’, readers need to be in the story and living what’s happening. That means keeping phrasing simple and realistic. Make it sound as though your character (or narrator) is actually telling the story. Stephen King is really good at that, but in the realm of psychological thrillers the master is undoubtedly Mark Edwards, who has that bloody annoying habit of being both a sensational writer and a really nice bloke, too. I’ve recently read Tony Parsons’ first Max Wolfe book, and that was the first author in a long time who’s really grabbed me in that same way.
Tell us more about the research that went into Her Last Tomorrow.
I do a lot of research for all of my books. For this one it involved speaking to retired and current police officers, going out on patrol with the police, speaking to the families and relatives of missing children and more practical research in terms of the dark web, technology and various other things I needed to know to make the book realistic.
How long did it take you to write this novel?
Including the few months it sat in a drawer untouched, about seven months. In terms of actual writing time, it was within my usual schedule — around a month at most.
Why did you initially set it aside?
Firstly, I couldn’t finish it off. It wasn’t just to do with the ending, but a number of things. I think the only thing I kept from the first ‘in the drawer’ manuscript was about the first five chapters. At that point my Knight & Culverhouse series of crime thrillers were doing quite well and were starting to gain quite a decent fanbase. The conventional wisdom is always ‘write in a series, don’t do standalone books.’ In retrospect, I should have listened to myself and stuck two fingers up at conventional wisdom.
What’s next for you?
The fifth Knight & Culverhouse book, In Too Deep, will be out in a couple of weeks. I have another psychological thriller, Only the Truth, scheduled for release in 2017 with Thomas & Mercer. Readers can sign up for my email list to be notified of exact publication dates.
Thank you very much, Adam.