Fresh from her launch party in London, I have grabbed the multi-talented Amy for a round of twenty questions, to get to know my fellow Carina author even better.
ACT ONE – all about you…
Born in Hampstead, North London, I moved all around the UK for the next 18 years, before coming back to London for university. I’ve been here ever since, only a few miles from where I was born, with my plays and novels often set partly in the area. I’m currently completing my Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck, and I’m also an alumni of Faber Academy. As well as being a writer, I’m also a lawyer – I work 4 days a week at one of the big City firms, specialising in employment law – and a trustee of a new writing theatre. When I’m not writing or lawyering, I’ll generally be found cooking with my husband, or in a theatre somewhere, or out and about sampling the cultural delights of North London.
I started writing a novel when I was 11 and, ever the optimist, sent the first chapter off to HarperCollins for their consideration. I received a very kind response saying that if I finished the book, they would be delighted to read it. Unfortunately I ‘lost the plot’ hallway through it and began writing plays instead. As an adult, I’d shelved writing, apart from the occasional university revue, until I saw the fun my husband was having with his own writing. He encouraged me to start writing again and now here I am…
2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?
I always go for a walk before I start writing – it sharpens my thinking and lets the ideas circulate in my brain. Out in the sunlight, you can also sense-check whether the ideas you had late the following night actually work. Once back home, I ensconce myself in my study, where I have a lovely view of the garden from my desk, open up my laptop, and begin to write. Then I realise three hours have passed and I really ought to move.
3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?
So many. When I was growing up, I had a diet of classics – Daphne du Maurier, E.M. Forster, Thomas Hardy and Patrick Hamilton in particular. I also loved the dark comic worlds created by Joseph Connolly. More recently, favourites have included Gillian Flynn and S.J. Watson for their sinister brooding and chilling suspense.
4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?
Just keep going!
5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?
I had a piece of work exhibited in the Tate, Liverpool when I was five (it was called ‘Globe with a Nose’ – about as profound as it sounds), I once played Ophelia’s biological clock in the West End, and I recently did a coast-to-coast road trip across America.
6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?
iPhone, MacBook, iPad, eye pad/ sleep mask, and my husband. Query though whether he is a luxury item or a gadget.
ACT TWO – all about your new release…
How far would you go to get your life back?
Kate Dixon is miserable. So when an email arrives from psychology student Anna, offering her a no-strings-attached, three month long life-exchange, she jumps at the chance. After all: what has she got to lose?But she doesn’t bank on how much Anna has invested in the swap. How long she’s been watching, putting her immaculate plan together as she waits to enter Kate’s life. And as more comes to light about Anna’s past, Kate finds herself in a desperate race to protect all she holds dear.Leaving your life in someone else’s hands is a dangerous game; Kate’s about to find out just how seriously her opponent is playing.Yours is Mine is a chilling psychological thriller perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep.
One of my colleagues had his bag stolen while we were on team away day. That made me think – what is the most important thing you could have stolen from you? Probably your identity. And then I thought – what if you surrendered your identity voluntarily? And who would do that? The answer was Kate, my protagonist – recently bereaved, a lonely and vulnerable ‘Navy Wife’, she sees the chance to get her spark back by agreeing to a temporary identity exchange with another woman, Anna. Crucially, Kate believes that her own identity will be safeguarded. Anna has other plans.
8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?
Once Kate and Anna appeared to me, the story flowed, as I had a very real sense of them and their progression in my head - I was just writing out their stories. They are very different characters, though (one innocent, one destructive), and as the book alternates between their points of view, I had to make sure I ‘channelled’ the correct one at the correct time.
9) I see Yours is Mine is your debut, how long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?
I turned the idea for the story over in my head for about a month before I sat down to write, and I finished the first draft of the book nine months later – so a traditional gestation period! It’s gone through a number of revisions since then to make sure Kate and Anna are fully explored. Then in February this year I submitted to Harlequin, through their new digital imprint Carina, my editor (thankfully) loved it, and now here it is on Kindle screens!
10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?
Kate had taken the bait. Anna knew she would. Anyone would, personally selected in that way. People were arrogant, flattered that someone should want to take over their life. Kate was no different from all the rest. Anna had banked on that, and been proved right. Kate had sounded keen on the phone. And so she should. How could anyone wanting to escape their life resist the opportunity Anna offered? London, freelance working, time to explore life. Anna’s life. Too tantalising not to bite. Now Anna just had to reel her in.
11) Over to you, what can you tell us about Yours is Mine, to make us rush out and buy it?
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live someone else’s life, if you’ve ever worried what would be at stake if someone invaded your own, and if you’re the person who (like me) clutched your Kindle until 2am in expectation of the next plot twist in Before I Go to Sleep and Gone Girl, then Yours is Mine is the book for you.
12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now?
I’m lucky enough to have a three-book deal with Harlequin, so I’m working on my second novel with my editor right now. Expect something dark and North London...
QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…
13) Plotter or pantser?
Plotter. If you’re writing thrillers, there needs to be a plan.
14) Secret Seven or Famous Five? (please tell me you know them!?)
15) Digital books or print books?
It isn’t an ‘either/or’. I love the accessibility and convenience of my Kindle, but as I write we are also taking delivery of two new bookcases for the piles of print books in my study. Ultimately, a novel is a novel, whatever form it’s in.
16) Tea or coffee?
Tea. Coffee makes me too jittery – I prefer to save that effect for a good thriller!
17) Cats or dogs?
Cats. Sadly, they make me sneeze, so I can’t own one. Happily, if I use ‘Written Kitten,’ I get a virtual one when I meet my word count. www.writtenkitten.net/
18) Extrovert or introvert?
The correct balance.
19) Save or spend?
20) Facebook or Twitter?
Don’t make me choose!
And that’s a wrap!
Thank you so much for taking part, Amy, I wish you every success with your new release.
To discover even more about Amy Bird, and to keep up with her latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit her at:
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At the last stop on her blog tour (http://unhingednavywives.blogspot.co.uk/) on 7 August, Amy will be doing a giveaway of a Mira Ink bundle – some great titles from the single-title imprint of Harlequin and a canvas book bag – so catch Amy there!