23 Nov 2013

An interview with psychological thriller author Erin Kelly

I'm delighted to have psychological thriller author, Erin Kelly, here today...
When did you first start writing? And when were you first published?
I’ve worked as a freelance journalist since 1998, so I’ve earned my living with words for a long time. But I didn’t write my first novel, The Poison Tree, until 2008. It was published in 2009.

What is it about psychological thrillers that appeals to you the most? Do you read other genres? If so, which?
I love psychological thrillers because the good ones combine the best of all words – the care for language and character that you get in literary fiction, but with the gripping plots of crime fiction.

What's the title of your latest book? Can you tell us about it?
The Burning Air is about an upper middle-class family, the MacBrides, who gather in their country cottage to celebrate bonfire night. The son, Felix, unexpectedly brings his new girlfriend to stay. This girlfriend disappears during a party, taking the baby. As the story unfolds from various points of view it gradually becomes clear that the abduction has its roots in revenge, and that seemingly innocent incidents in the family’s past have had terrible consequences for one person. We don’t find out who this person is until the middle of the book – and I have yet to meet a reader who has guessed correctly.

What inspired you to write it?
I’ve read a handful of novels based on the nightmare scenario of a missing baby, and despite the emotive subject matter, they started to feel quite light and samey. I wanted to take that as my starting point and go a bit deeper and wider, write a real family tragedy. The book is written from various viewpoints, from a 30something mother like myself to a teenager to a grandfather in his sixties. I really enjoyed the challenge of capturing their different voices and reference points.

Is it part of a series?
No. I prefer to write standalone books. That way I get to kill off whomever I chose every time.

Have you ever spotted anyone reading your books anywhere?
No! I feel sorry for the first reader I do spot. I’ll probably throw them to the ground in a loving embrace.

Who designs your covers?
It’s done in-house by my publishers, Hodder.

If your latest book was made into a film, who would you cast?
One of my favourite television programmes is Silent Witness, and I had the female lead, Emilia Fox, vaguely in mind for Sophie, the mother of the missing baby, when I was writing it. Sometimes I do cast my characters like this as I go along.

What's your favourite book that made it to the big screen?
The Great Gatsby, I suppose, although no screen version has ever done the novel justice.

Do you ever read Chick Lit? If you do, do you have a favourite? 
I love Marian Keyes and Lisa Jewel. I also think that Rosie Thomas has a beautiful way with words.

Name one female author who you think deserves to be better known.
Helen Fitzgerald, who writes in my genre. Her books always have fascinating moral dilemmas at their heart, and she really knows how to create suspense.

Where do you write? Do you ever wish you could write elsewhere? If so, where?
In my study at home. But I’m not precious about that. The Burning Air was written in about 20 different locations including train carriages, hotels, airports, friends’ houses and soft play centres.

Do you have any hobbies?
No. I’m very lucky in that my job is the thing I love best in the world.

In the movie of your life, who would play you?
Olivia Colman and David Tennant in Broadchurch
Olivia Colman. She’s my celebrity lookalike and I can’t think of a better actor.

Speed Round...Top drink? Sparkling water. Boring, I know.
Shopaholic or shopadon't? Shopacan’t. I’ve got two tiny kids and a deadline. I barely have time to shop for groceries.
Sky high heels or closer to the ground? Heels, but with flats in the handbag for the walk home
E.L. James or Jilly Cooper? Jilly every time. Riders is one of my all time favourite books. Patrick O’Hara remains my literary crush to this day.
Cry baby or tough cookie? Cry baby

Erin Kelly was born in 1976. She lives in London with her husband and two small daughters. Visit her website.

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