Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Author Interview: Ali Knight

This morning as part of the feature week I'm delighted to welcome Ali Knight to have a chat about her latest book Until Death which was published last month and I'll be reviewing later.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book Until Death?
It’s about a mother who’s desperate to leave a bad marriage, a mistress who’s very keen to take her place, and a husband who will stop at nothing to get exactly what he wants. It deals with the violent emotions that are triggered by rejection, it’s about how we recover from the mistakes we make in life and how far people will go to create their happy ever after. It deals with identity, love and loss, with plenty of twists, surprises and action along the way. 

Where did the inspiration come from to write about a wife trapped in a loveless marriage by a controlling husband? 
It’s NOT based on my own marriage! My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. Writing about the dark side of marriage was something I wanted to do, and I was keen to explore a setting (in this case a penthouse flat above St Pancras Station where a lot of the action in the book takes place) that was confined and claustrophobic. It’s a great contrast to the freedom and activity of the city below.

What attracts you to writing psychological thrillers?
It’s great to get under the skin of your characters and explore their darkest desires and motivations. 

Are you currently working on a new book? If so, are you able to tell us anything about it? 
A fourth book is coming out with Hodder next year. This deals with a missing child and a family’s struggle to find out the truth.

What does a typical writing day look like for you? 
I write every morning and a bit after lunch. I’m done by then as the ideas have stopped flowing.

Percentage-wise, how much time do you spend researching and how much time do you spend writing?
I don’t do much research. I once wrote a book and did huge amounts of research and felt that in the end it got in the way of the characters. While I want to get the basics right, I’m creating fiction, so I feel I am allowed a bit of leeway. My time is divided between writing and editing. I edit constantly.

Are there any writers that have influenced you?
Every single writer influences me! I can read a book and then find I’m writing like them. I’m a magpie, which I think is a good thing. I find ideas and inspiration in everything I read.

If you could write another style or genre, what would it be and why?
Horror. It would be such a change from my ordered life.

If you weren’t a writer, what career path would you have chosen to follow?
I did many jobs before I became a writer, from bar work to editing. In all those jobs I used to dream of doing two things: writing books and winning Wimbledon. Both seemed equally unachievable, but I was wrong. 

How long did it take you to get your first book published? 
My first book got a lot of interest from agents but never got published; my second book was snapped up, almost straight away, by Hodder.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Finish. If you don’t you have nothing to show for all your hard work.

When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
Stephen’s King’s Paul Sheldon, the writer in Misery, has a single cigarette and a glass of champagne when he finishes a novel. I just revel in how great it feels, and normally because I’ve been up for three nights solid editing I sleep. Two days later I shop for clothes.

If you could invite any three authors, alive or dead, to a dinner party who would you choose and why?
I am always desperate to be entertained, so I need people who can make me laugh. Martina Cole because she can tell a good tale or two, F Scott Fitzgerald so he can tell us how to host a great party and Chaucer, because he can certainly spin a yarn.

What’s the last book you’ve read that has made you cry?
Sister by Rosamund Lupton is a real tear jerker; The Silent Wife by AS Harrison made me almost cry with laughter it is so well observed

Where would be your idyllic location be for a writing retreat? 
I already have it: the shed in my garden or the café at the British Library. I can write anywhere as long as the chair is comfortable.

If you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books with you, which ones would you choose?
Pride and Prejudice – it’s the book I’ve read more times than any other

American Pastoral by Philip Roth because it reminds me of my American family

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris – because it’s the best thriller ever written

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