Hi Lisa, welcome to Jaffareadstoo. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions about your latest novel, Hidden...
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author.
I began writing when I was 40. I left it later because I never thought I could be a writer. I’d love to say I had a burning desire to be a writer from when I was a child but I don’t think I did, not consciously anyway.
I’ve always loved books. I studied literature to Masters level and I used to be an English teacher. Literature has always been part of my life.
Maybe I had A midlife crisis moment. I started thinking I wanted to write a book. I told my husband. Never tell a supportive spouse your dreams unless you’re prepared to act on them!
My husband bought me a beautiful pen and notebook with an instruction to have a go. I did. The first novel wasn’t great. Maybe one day I’ll return to it. The next novel was Hidden.
I sent Hidden to many, many publishers and agents. The rejections were always along the lines of how it didn’t quite fit current publishing trends.
I was ready to give up. Thank goodness I didn’t! Bloodhound Books like novels that dare to be a little different. They offered a contract and here I am!
What inspired you to write Hidden?
The setting came first, which is unusual as for me as it’s usually plot and characters.
I love the 1980s: the music, awful fashions, films, and memories. I had an inkling it would be a good era for an eighties buff to set her novel in. But where?
I am a council estate kid. Most of my childhood years were spent growing up on a 1980s council estate in Oxfordshire. It seemed like the perfect place for a death to happen of a girl, surrounded by an estate full of suspects.
Writing what you know isn’t such a bad thing. It gave me Hidden, although the estate in my novel is definitely fictional!
Tell us three interesting things about your novel which will tempt the reader's interest.
Jen Taylor has lived with a secret for decades. She believes that in 1987 she killed a fourteen-year-old girl, Kelly. Jen and Kelly fought on the railway track. Kelly’s body was found the next day. Jen killed her, didn’t she?
The novel takes the reader on a path swerving between the present and the 1980s. The eighties chapters are full of nostalgia.
The sleuthing duo, Jen and Claire, are former best friends from the estate. Theirs is a relationship of humour and women supporting each other. Jen knows she’ll lose Claire’s friendship if Claire ever discovers Jen is a killer.
Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them when the book is finished? Are they who you expected them to be?
Characters evolve as you write.
At the beginning I create character profiles listing things such as the character’s favourite food, what they drive, their hobbies, and physical appearance, among other things. The profiles aren’t set in stone. Characters can suddenly like rock music rather than rap because it feels right.
I am a plotter but I allow the plot and characters to do their thing too. Characters are just like people; unpredictable.
When I finish the book, I have affection for most of my characters. They’ve played their part. They’re all a part of me. Maybe not so much the truly evil ones though.
When do you find the time to write, and do you have a favourite place to do your writing?
Since I got my publishing contract, I view writing more as my job, because it is. That’s not to say I didn’t work hard before but when there are expectations to edit, check proofs, and promote, you can’t duck in and out when you feel like it.
I work a normal kind of office day every week day. I try to take weekends off but sometimes promotion has to happen.
I’m lucky being a full-time writer. I have so much respect for those who have to fit in writing around another job.
I always write at my desk in the corner of the lounge. It makes me more productive than sitting in bed or on the sofa. Believe me, I’ve tried! As soon as I sit at my desk, I know the work has to begin.
Do you write the type of books you like to read and which authors influence you?
I’ve always loved crime, thriller, and mystery novels, so it makes sense I write them. When I began writing I didn’t think about writing in these genres. It seems silly now. It’s definitely my thing.
I love so many crime, thriller, and mystery novels. There are too many to list.
The crime author who’s most influenced me is Karin Slaughter, particularly her novels featuring Sara Linton. The characterisation, intense plots, and tension are always brilliant and memorable.
Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?
I do and I’m working on it at the moment. I’m in the drafting stages and trying to fit the jigsaw pieces together!
About the Author
Lisa Sell is a thriller, crime, and mystery writer who also scribbles short stories. Throughout her writing career she’s blogged about the twists and turns on her site
To combat writer's bum and keep mentally fit, Lisa is a runner. The consequence is she’s now a running bore but is proud of her achievements.
When she’s reading, Lisa practically hoovers up books. The to-be-read pile has become a tower, threatening to topple on her when she’s sleeping.
Music rocks Lisa’s world too, particularly a good eighties tune. If lost, you’ll find Lisa in a DeLorean, headed for her favourite decade.
Lisa’s cats try to help her write but often fail. The furry pests demand attention and desk space. Lisa is currently applying for cat wrangling to be recognised as an Olympic sport.
Lisa is a happy pup to be part of the Bloodhound Books team. Just don’t tell the cats. If you’d like to visit Lisa’s website/blog, click here or find out more by following her on social media:
Huge thanks to Lisa for being our author in the spotlight today.
27 August 2019
Jen Taylor has a secret.
In 1987 the body of fourteen-year-old Kelly was found on a railway track and Jen believes she was responsible for her death.
Now an adult, Jen is approached by Kelly’s mother, who asks her to help investigate her daughter’s murder.
But Jen is hiding more than anyone knows.
As the investigation is reopened by Jen, along with her former friend Claire, secrets from the past come to light and when another murder takes place, the case takes a sinister turn.