"The nerve-shredding new crime thriller from bestseller Lisa Hartley starts a must-read new series. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Robert Bryndza, it will keep you guessing until the very end."
Today you are in for a treat. I am interviewing Lisa Hartley, the author of the upcoming thriller Ask No Questions. Anyone who follows this blog will know that I am a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers and this one sounds like a real page-turner! I love to learn more about authors and what inspires them, and also what challenges them when they set about writing and publishing. I enjoyed the interview very much and hope you will too:-)
Thank you for this interview, Lisa! I’d love to know a little more about you and the way you approach writing. When did you start writing?
Hello there, and thank you for having me on your blog! I started writing when I was a young child. When I was eight or nine, I had a wonderful teacher who soon realised I loved reading and writing. She would encourage me to write during lessons, and I even wrote a short book about a woman and her many pets at that time. English was always my favourite subject, all the way through school.
Can you describe your writing process?
I don’t think I really have one! I’m not a writer who plans every chapter or scene in detail. I do have a word target each day if I’m working on a first draft, and if I achieve that I’m happy with my day’s work. I tend to edit as I go, though not too closely, or I’d never get any actual writing done. Once I have a first draft completed, I read through and make changes, then I usually print it out and make lots of notes – basically scribble all over it, if necessary. Then I make the changes onscreen, and send it to my editor or publisher.
What is the greatest challenge you face when it comes to writing?
I can be a terrible procrastinator, though I’m better than I used to be. I’m lucky that I don’t have another job outside of writing, so I can spend several hours a day working. I have an eleven-year-old son who has autism, and when he’s off school, I have to organize my day differently. I’d say my greatest challenge is having the discipline to sit at my desk and write without being distracted by the internet, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and all the other things I could be doing when working at home.
Is there a genre apart from the one of your latest novel in which you would like to try your hand?
I enjoy reading historical fiction, though often historical crime, such as CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series. There are so many periods in history which fascinate me, so maybe a historical novel would be an interesting challenge.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
Ask No Questions is the first in series featuring Detective Caelan Small. Caelan was a police officer who specialised in undercover operations. At the beginning of Ask No Questions, she has resigned from the Metropolitan Police after an assignment she was part of went badly wrong. Then she’s offered the opportunity to track down the criminal responsible, and has decisions to make about her future.
How did you get the idea for the plot of Ask No Questions?
I started with the main character, Caelan Small. I wanted to write something different to the police procedurals I’d worked on before, and having Caelan specialise in undercover operations gave me the chance to do that. She still has to follow rules, but she does have a little more freedom and finds herself in situations other officers might not. I decided Caelan should have resigned, then wondered what might tempt her back to work. The rest of the plot came to me once I’d started writing.
How did you publish your current novel?
Ask No Questions is the first book I’ve worked on with my new publisher, Canelo. It’s been so exciting for me, as Canelo are innovative and forward-thinking. I’ve been hugely impressed with the way they work, and am delighted to be a part of what they’re doing.
Are you an avid reader? If so, what are some of your favorite books/authors?
Yes, I’m certainly an avid reader and have been for as long as I can remember. As a child, I enjoyed Enid Blyton’s books, especially The Famous Five. As I grew older and began studying literature, I enjoyed books by Austen and Hardy, and trying to decipher Shakespeare’s plays. These days, I mainly read crime books and love anything by Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Sara Paretsky, and many others. I also love discovering writers that are new to me, usually from recommendations made by friends, or books I’ve seen mentioned on Twitter.
Is there a genre you never read?
Not really, though I haven’t read much horror, fantasy or science fiction. That’s not because I don’t like those genres or that they don’t appeal to me, I just tend to read mostly crime fiction, as that’s the area I write in. I studied English at university and was introduced to authors working in many different genres and from so many diverse backgrounds. Maybe it’s time to broaden my reading horizons again.
How important is setting in your book?
Ask No Questions is set in London, a city I’ve never lived in, only visited. Ideally, I’d have gone there and walked around, visiting the buildings and areas that feature in the book. That wasn’t possible, and thankfully the internet makes virtual exploring much easier. My partner grew up in London, so I could make use of that knowledge too. The London setting is important, as being a large, capital city it’s hugely diverse both in terms of people and of places. That potentially means a variety of crimes for Caelan to become involved in.
What advice could you give to authors after their book is published?
You will receive negative reviews, and it will hurt, especially at first. The best advice I can give is to believe in yourself, and in your work. One person’s opinion is just that – their opinion. Other people will love your book, and the best thing to do is to keep on going. Keep writing and remember that even the most successful writers and books have their critics.
What is next for you?
I’m currently writing the second in the Detective Caelan Small series.
Finally, what is on your summer reading list this year?
I’m looking forward to Val McDermid’s new Tony Hill and Carol Jordan book, which I think is due to be published in August. My next read is The Dry by Jane Harper. Some lovely friends gave me a copy for my birthday, and I’ve heard lots of good things about it.
Thank you for your time and best of luck for Ask No Questions!
Thank you very much!
Ask No Questions
Some secrets were meant to stay hidden… Trust no-one
After an operation goes badly wrong, undercover specialist Detective Caelan Small leaves the Metropolitan Police for good. Or so she thinks. Then the criminal responsible is seen back in the UK.
Soon Caelan is drawn back into a dangerous investigation. But when the main lead is suddenly murdered, all bets are off. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone is a suspect - even close colleagues.
Someone in the Met is involved and Caelan is being told to Ask No Questions.
This isn’t an option: Caelan needs answers… whatever the cost.
Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. In addition to this new series with Canelo she is also working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel.