Sarah Pinborough’s MAYHEM just came out in the US, and as I’m a big fan of hers, I asked her back to the blog to chat about it a bit. Please welcome her back!
We’ve also got 2 copies of Mayhem up for grabs, so be sure to check the giveaway details below the post!
Sarah, I’m so excited that your novel, MAYHEM, is finally out in the US! Will you tell us a bit about it and your protagonist, Dr. Thomas Bond?
Dr. Thomas Bond was an insomniac police surgeon who wrote the first ever criminal profile – on Jack the Ripper after the Mary Kelly murder. However, at the same time as the Ripper killings were occurring, there was another series of unsolved murders taking place in London, where someone was dismembering women and throwing their body parts – mainly – in the Thames, although he kept hold of their heads. They have become known as the Thames Torso murders, and although more gruesome in many ways that the ripper murders, they have been almost forgotten by history. In Mayhem I’ve used those killings, and Bond and the police’s investigations into them, as the spine of the novel, but have woven my own story of who might have been the killer around them. Although there is a supernatural element, the book is really a study of madness.
The book takes place amongst the Jack the Ripper killings. What kind of research did you do for the novel, and what was one of the most interesting things you learned?
Thankfully there were a couple of really good books on the Torso killings so I used those to form my structure and get the details of those deaths right. I also used the Times newspaper archives (especially for the follow-up, Murder), and of course the Internet. There are some great sites dedicated to Ripperology. Although Jack the Ripper is the backdrop not the focus of the novel, I still needed quite a lot of information, but the case is so famous that there is no short supply! I tend to research as I go – otherwise you can end up forgetting half of what you need by the time you write it, but it does mean that you write more slowly because you have to stop and look up random things like word usages or what people had for an average dinner etc. I can’t remember what the most interesting things were, but I did get hooked on old newspaper reports!
What did you enjoy most about writing the book?
Finishing it! Ha! No, more seriously I really enjoyed having a framework of real events and people to work around. Adding my fiction to it was like putting a jigsaw together. But when you’re working with real events there’s always the panic that you’ve got a detail wrong.
What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m definitely a plotter. I think you have to be if you’re writing a crime novel, but I tend to be a plotter whatever genre I’m writing in. Also, I tend to be juggling several projects at once so it’s good to have things at least vaguely planned out so you can jump between things without losing your place.
What’s one of the best books you read in 2013?
I read a book called Bird Box by Josh Mallerman which I don’t think is out yet, which I really enjoyed. I read it in one sitting. Also, The Twelve by Justin Cronin. My new year’s resolution is to read more which is a crazy thing for an author to have to make a resolution about but it’s crazy how reading drops off when you’re writing all day.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Every time you get a rejection, if you think ‘oh well I’ll just give up,’ then give up. This isn’t the career for you. Writers write whether they’re selling or not.
What’s next for you in 2014?
Murder comes out in May in the UK (the follow-up to Mayhem), and then The Death House comes out later in the year. In the states I have the three fairy tale re-tellings Poison, Charm and Beauty also coming out. I’ve got a Victorian thriller to write and also some TV projects on the go. So pretty busy!
2.) Giveaway is for 2 copies of MAYHEM by Sarah Pinborough to 2 winners
3.) Giveaway is open to US residents or those with a US address for mailing (no PO Boxes)
4.) You must enter on or before 1/23/14
5.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.
Killer for his habit of leaving behind neatly wrapped parcels of his victims’ body parts, minus the heads. With the terrible increase in mutilated corpses to examine, the highly regarded police surgeon Dr. Thomas Bond has lost the ability to sleep. True, a growing dependency on opium affords him some solace in his loneliest and most desperate hours, but he also fears the grip of the drug.
During Dr. Bond’s nightly tours of London’s underbelly in search of pharmaceutical respite from the horrors that plague him by day, he encounters a mysterious Jesuit priest scouring the opium dens himself, clearly in search of someone—or something. The doctor at first rejects the strange priest’s unnatural theories about the Torso Killer as an affront to scientific thought. But over time Dr. Bond’s opium-addled mind begins to crumble under the growing impression that there might be some awful truth to the Jesuit’s ideas.
As the police struggle to capture two serial killers, the troubled forensics expert begins to suspect that he may actually know the Torso Killer personally. If he is right, Dr. Bond will need all the strength he can muster to save his small circle of loved ones from falling victim to the bloody depravities of this twisted creature.