The Perfect Lie by Adam Croft
What led you into writing?
I’ve always written stories in some form or another, but the spark for my first book came while I was on holiday in Crete about eleven years ago. It was the location and the plot twist that came to me first, and as soon as I got home I started planning the book. It was only a 21,000-word novella, but it took me two and a half years to finish it. Thankfully, I’ve sped up quite a lot since and now publish 4-6 books a year.
How does a typical day look?
It doesn’t. Every day varies hugely from the last. Sometimes I’ll be able to dedicate a few hours to writing, but on others my time will be taken up with media obligations, business stuff or things just generally falling apart around me.
In what ways do your characters test your abilities?
I had a little think about this, and it’s actually quite interesting. Jack Culverhouse often tests me as I have to write a character who says and thinks things I’d never say or think in a million years. He’s almost the complete polar opposite of me, but I think there’s a certain appeal in that. Writing books or chapters from a woman’s point of view is always quite difficult, for obvious reasons, but I’ve been told on many occasions that I actually do it quite well. Read into that what you will.
What’s your setup?
It’s a bit of a mish-mash at the moment, as I’m currently confined to the spare bedroom whilst we have our garage converted into a funky new office. I’m squashed between a filing cabinet and a bookcase, on a wooden desk with a huge pile of papers to my left, a couple of notebooks and a pile of papers to my right, a calculator and stapler, banker’s lamp, two fountain pens and bottles of ink — and two whacking great boom arms with studio microphones attached, accompanied by a small audio mixer. These are used for the weekly Partners in Crime podcast I present and produce with my friend and fellow crime writer Robert Daws. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to moving into my new office in a few weeks!
What lasting effects have your favourite authors had on your writing and style?
I think I’m influenced by everything I read or watch in some form or another. You can’t not be, really. In terms of my style I think Peter James has probably had the biggest influence as I tend to structure my books in a similar way — short chapters, fast-paced and pulling the reader on for ‘just one more chapter’. My all-time favourite authors haven’t had as much of an influence, though, as I tend to read outside the crime and thriller genres for my own recreation. I read a lot of non-fiction, and I think Bill Bryson is one of the finest writers the world has produced. Hopefully I manage to get some of that dry wit across in my books. My all-time favourite writer in any form is Harold Pinter — without a doubt. You’d be hard-pushed to find any Pinteresque influences in my books, though. My plays, on the other hand…
What do you do for inspiration?
I look at my bills. In all seriousness, I don’t really subscribe to the arty-farty glancing out the window across the windswept moor type of inspiration. This is my job, so I sit down in the morning and do it. I’m bloody fortunate to be able to, so I’m not going to mess about calling myself an ‘artiste’ or worrying about where my next flash of inspiration’s going to come from. I subscribe to W Somerset Maugham’s philosophy: ‘I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.’
What repeating themes do you find yourself pulling into your stories?
This is something I’ve never thought about until recently, when a lady approached me at the book signing table following a talk I did at a literary festival. She walked up to me, utterly confused and baffled. She said ‘I really don’t get it. You seem like such a nice person.’ Turns out she assumed that because I write about disturbing topics and the deepest depths of human depravity, she assumed I must be similar to the characters I write. We had a chat and I came to the conclusion that it’s actually my overwhelming and crippling fear of violence and death which makes me write what I write. It’s my way of controlling it. Death is the one thing none of us can really control, but this gives me a way of doing so.
How do you wind down?
I don’t really. I find it very difficult to, anyway. The only thing that can really keep me from thinking about work in some form or another is gardening. It’s something of a passion of mine, and I find it very therapeutic.
What sort of challenges do you regularly overcome while world-building?
I don’t really do much world-building, as I tend to write within the series I already have. They’re both based on real-life places I’ve lived, so I’ve always got plenty of grounding in the real world which makes things much easier. I can play fast and loose with the exact locations and places, though, as I’ve changed the names to fictional ones!
What’s the most useful advice you could give to an aspiring author?
The same six words I always give: Backside on chair, fingers on keyboard.
Tell us about the book you’re promoting.
The Perfect Lie is a domestic psychological thriller that asks ‘What if you were framed for a murder you didn’t commit?’. Amy Walker lives the perfect family life with her husband and two young sons. Until a knock at the door turns their lives upside down. It’s the police. Her father-in-law is dead and they’re arresting her for his murder. It’s available in ebook, paperback and audio from all good retailers.