Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Q&A with Elizabeth Haynes, Into The Darkest Corner

I recently read Elizabeth Haynes' book Into the Darkest Corner, and it was a great read. I got to do a Q&A with Elizabeth via email recently, and she had some interesting questions to some of my answers.

author Elizabeth Haynes
You wrote the first draft of this novel in 2008 for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) – do you still participate in  NaNoWriMo now you’re a published author?

Definitely! I’m more into NaNoWriMo than ever before, at least partly because I’m the Municipal Liaison for Kent, U.K. so I organise write ins and events for the Kent participants. More importantly though, writing has to be fun for me. If I’m bored writing it, how can I expect people to enjoy reading it? So I write my novels in November and pretend that nobody is ever going to read my efforts, that way it stands a chance of being fresh and exciting.

Of course, the main difference now is in the editing process, which takes up the rest of the year. Previously once November was done I could relax and put the novel aside; now I rework it, research the bits that I’m unsure of, edit, check facts, and develop characters who didn’t seem important in the first draft but have turned out to be pivotal.

Will all of your novels be mysteries/suspense novels, since you are an intelligence analyst for the police, or would you be open to trying other genres too?

I only started writing in this genre when I began working for the police, as I felt that I could write with some degree of accuracy. Previously I wrote romance and it’s definitely something I might write in the future. There are a lot of fantastic romance writers out there, though, right? And there’s a danger I will go from being a good mystery writer to being a laughably bad romance writer. So I should stick to writing romance for fun.

Do you ever get ideas for books based on things that happened to you at work (or cases that you helped solve)?

Not really – mainly because real crime is often so grim and horrible and pointless that it would make a truly depressing read, or because it’s so weird that people would think it was utterly unrealistic. Mostly I get ideas for stories based on articles I read in the papers, or things I overhear. Something will spark off an idea – a kind of ‘what if…?’ question that usually transforms into something else. Or else I’m inspired by a location, or a character that’s desperate to get their story told. At that point my job does help and inspire me, because I know how a police investigation works, so I can put the story into a realistic framework. And I’m really lucky, too, that I have so many good friends in the police who can help me out when I get stuck on a technical point.

The film rights to this novel have already been sold to Revolution Films. Which actors can you see playing Catherine, Lee and Catherine’s friends (Sylvia, etc.), and would you be open to them setting it in the US or do you believe it should stay in England, like the book?

I’m going to be a bit evasive with my answer to this one because if I name an actor who doesn’t turn out to be cast as that character in the film it would feel very rude of me to have preferred someone else. Also, I think as a reader I have strong ideas about what characters look like and I would hate to have those images shattered by the author telling me that actually they should look like someone else. I have complete trust in Revolution Films to cast the right people, because they completely understand what I was trying to do with the story. It’s interesting, though, that having had some quite strong ideas about who would be perfect in the role of Lee, my opinion has changed completely having read the first draft of the screenplay – which is absolutely brilliant.

As for the setting: I think it’s a universal story, isn’t it? Obsession and trauma happens all over the world, so I believe it would work wherever it was set.

Who are some of your favourite authors, and why?

I read a lot of crime fiction and I could give you a huge list of authors I admire as a reader, and am now insanely jealous of, as a writer. I’ve also recently met authors who I’ve previously enjoyed reading, and that’s very odd. You know how when you get to meet a lot of people in a short space of time, there’s usually someone who’s a bit annoying? Well, let me tell you that I have yet to meet a mystery writer who isn’t completely lovely.

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Thanks to Elizabeth Haynes for the Q&A! And if you haven't read Into the Darkest Corner, check it out when you can - I highly recommend it.


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