Debbie Howells is a florist and lives with her family in Sussex. Her agent Juliet Mushens discovered The Bones of You on the slush pile and immediately spotted it as a future bestseller.
You can visit her blog at www.debbiehowells.blogspot.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @debbie__howells.
Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel The Bones of You?
It’s a psychological thriller, about the murder of Rosie, a teenaged girl, and the story that lies behind her death, the secrets people keep. Dark themes contrast with the setting of beautiful English countryside…
How did the title come about?
It’s actually a song title which seemed a perfect fit for the story…
Did you know where the story was going to go before you started writing or did it take on a life of its own?
I did know where the story was going, however one character surprised me! Without giving too much away, it’s true to say the ending isn’t what I originally planned.
Describe The Bones of You in one sentence?
A book that will leave you questioning how well you can ever know someone…
Were there parts of the writing/editing/publishing process that took you by surprise?
Having self-published three women’s fiction books, this was my first psychological thriller and also the first time I’d had any professional input with regard to editing, so I had no idea what to expect. Before my book went out on submission to publishers, I worked on it with Juliet (Mushens), my agent, who is very hands on editorially. Then I worked with my editor at Pan Macmillan, Trisha, who is completely brilliant, finding glitches and coming up with suggestions that made it a far better book. There was more editing with my US publisher. It’s hard work, that at times left my brain tied in knots, but it’s great because everyone’s working towards the same end – a better book…
I have to say, the whole process has been a dream. Hard work at times but completely amazing…
What can we expect from you next?
I’ve just finished my next book, The Beauty of the End, which is another psychological thriller about a washed-up lawyer, who when the woman he used to love is suspected of murder, is determined to defend her. There’s a crime to solve, but it’s also a love story - with a twist…
Did you always know you wanted to write a novel?
I’ve always loved writing. In the past, I started several novels, all of which - quite rightly – ended up in the bottom of a drawer somewhere because they were terrible. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to write in earnest.
What essentials do you need to have to hand when you're sitting down to write?
Coffee and Bernard, our golden retriever, lying on my feet.
Can you remember the exact moment when you heard the news that Pan Macmillan wanted to publish The Bones of You?
I will never, ever forget! The Bones of You went to auction and I remember Juliet calling with the news that there had been three offers from publishers. After years of dreaming of this moment, when it finally arrived, I couldn’t take it in. It was – and still is - surreal – and completely thrilling!
Do you set yourself a daily/weekly writing target?
Not as such. The only discipline I have is to write, regardless of whether it’s flowing or not. That said, when the words really flow, I’ll write all day, then wake up and write during the night too.
Are you going to treat yourself to something nice for publishing your debut novel?
We actually went on a dream family holiday to St Lucia, all the more special because our children are getting older and the time we spend as a family is much less these days. I felt privileged to be able to do that for us. We had a wonderful week. I don’t think you can put a value on memories…
Have you anything exciting planned for publication day?
There is a launch party in the village close to where I live, in conjunction with the fabulous Steyning Bookshop. So many friends and family are coming. They know what this means to me and have shared the excitement. It’s an occasion that marks life-changing times…
Children who don't die before their parents.
A community in shock
When eighteen-year-old Rosie Anderson disappears, the idyllic village where she lived will never be the same again. Local gardener Kate is struck with guilt. She'd come to know Rosie well, and thought she understood her - perhaps better even than Rosie's own mother.
A family torn apart
Rosie was beautiful, kind and gentle. She came from a loving family and she had her whole life ahead of her. Who could possibly want to harm her? And why?
A keeper of secrets
Kate is convinced the police are missing something. She's certain that someone in the village knows more than they're letting on. As the investigation deepens, so does Kate's obsession with solving the mystery of what happened to Rosie.