Interview: Elizabeth Haynes, author of Dark Tide

Elizabeth Haynes is the author of the thriller Into the Darkest Corner, and her new novel, Dark Tide, just came out! Please welcome Elizabeth to the blog!

darktide2Thanks so much for joining us, Elizabeth! Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Thank you for inviting me! I’ve been a writer my whole life – starting with the journals that I kept from the age of 11 – but until I tried NaNoWriMo I had never written anything full-length, nor considered that I would write something that could be published. Until quite recently I was working as an analyst for the police, which is a gift of a job for a mystery writer. I’m on a career break now so technically I’m still a police employee. This is great because I get to stay in touch with my friends and colleagues, and ask them searching questions about procedure and crime.

Your brand new novel, Dark Tide, just came out in March. Will you tell us a bit about it and what inspired you to write it?
I wanted to write something very different to my first book, Into the Darkest Corner, in which the heroine spends the whole novel in a state of fear. I wanted my next heroine to be feisty, bold, and reckless – which means she is also naïve and always putting herself into danger. The setting of the book was important to me, too: I live close to the river Medway, in South East England, and I wanted to write about the area and the boatyards along the river banks. So Genevieve, the heroine of Dark Tide, is happily renovating a house boat on the river until she finds a body in the water, and realises her past is starting to catch up with her.

Most of the locations in the book are real, and I’ve just put some pictures up on my blog so people can get a real sense of what the area is like.

When you write, is there anything special that you need to have around to get the creative juices flowing?
It’s very tempting to say chocolate, but I know this isn’t true. I’m notoriously bad at procrastinating and I have tried all manner of things to get myself into a writing/editing routine, but none of them seem to work. All I know is that sometimes the words come so fast I can’t stop them and I lose track of time, and sometimes I can sit at my desk for hours and not manage to write anything useful.

That said, I saw a great quote from Steve Smith today: ‘The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline.’ This explains why I can write like a mad thing every November, and the rest of the time I struggle.

One thing I am trying to do more of is exercise. I know it makes me feel better, and I think it helps me concentrate, so at the moment I am trying to exercise every day without fail and I have to say I am procrastinating less and doing more.

intothedarkestcornerAre you a plotter or a pantser?
I am definitely a pantser. I have tried plotting and I just get bored with the story. If I know what’s going to happen in the end, what’s the point of writing it? I wish I could plan more, because I do manage to develop enormous plot tangles that have to be unravelled in the editing process, which seems to take forever. I am phenomenally jealous of plotters.

Why suspense/mystery? What do you love most about writing in this genre?
Before I worked for the police, I wrote romance. I’d always read suspense/mystery, though, and never thought I could come up with a plot that was thrilling, or authentic. Once I had the benefit of insight into the world of police procedure I had a framework around which I could build a story, and of course not knowing what’s going to happen myself until I get there is very exciting. There are bits in every story that give me the shivers. That’s definitely the thing I love most – creeping myself out.

Your novels deal with some pretty dark subject matter. What’s something that you find truly scary?
I tell you what’s so scary that I can’t even manage to think about it – that a lot of this stuff is real, that it’s really happening to people, and it could easily have happened to me. I wrote about domestic abuse and stalking in Into the Darkest Corner, and although the characters and the setting is fictional, the manipulation and the violence and the fear of never, ever feeling safe again – that’s happening to people out there right now. And worse.

birdmanWhat are some of your biggest literary influences?
I read a lot of mystery/suspense writers and many of them have influenced me one way or the other. The three most important ones are probably Nicci French, who experiments with different narrative styles – something I always try to do; Mo Hayder, who never turns away from the gritty nastiness of violence, which I think shows respect to the real-life victims of crime; and Ruth Rendell, who is the queen of psychological suspense – if only I could come somewhere close to her creations, the creepiness of the apparently normal, yet utterly unhinged members of society who walk amongst us.

If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
I think it would be the Collected Poems of T S Eliot. I read Eliot for the first time at school and his poems have had a profound influence on me ever since. Every time I read The Waste Land or the Four Quartets I find something new in them. I do sometimes wish I could go back and experience them for the first time.

When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
As well as being entertained by my husband and nine year old son, I do quite a lot of reading and I also do anti gravity yoga. I’m trying to get into running, and we are about to adopt a dog so I expect I will be going for lots of long walks and investing time in dog training.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share (or anything at all!)?
Dark Tide is out now! And my third book, Human Remains, will be coming out in August so that’s not too long to wait. The first three books are all very different from each other. I am busy editing my fourth book, which will be different again – it will be the start of a police procedural series which should be out next Spring. Really looking forward to hearing what people think!
Keep up with Elizabeth: Website | Twitter

elizabeth_094smAbout DARK TIDE:
Genevieve has finally escaped the stressful demands of her sales job and achieved her dream: to leave London behind and begin a new life aboard a houseboat in Kent. Not many people know that she financed her fresh start by working weekends as a dancer at a less-than-reputable gentlemen’s club called the Barclay, and she’s determined to keep it that way. But on the night of her housewarming party the past intrudes when a body washes up beside the boat, and Genevieve recognizes the victim, a fellow dancer from the Barclay.

As the sanctuary of the marina is threatened, and Genevieve’s life seems increasingly at risk, the story of how she came to be so out of her depth unfolds, and she discovers the hard way the real cost of mixing business with pleasure. . .

About the author:
Elizabeth Haynes is a police intelligence analyst, a civilian role that involves determining patterns in offending and criminal behavior. Dark Tide is her second novel; rights to her first, Into the Darkest Corner, have been sold in twenty-five territories. Haynes lives in England in a village near Maidstone, Kent, with her husband and son.

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