It’s a genuine pleasure to welcome back A.J. Waines to Linda’s Book Bag today. I’ve met Alison in real life (she’s absolutely lovely) and have featured her before, having thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed both No Longer Safe here and Inside the Whispers here where you can also read an extract from the book. I also have an extract from another of Alison’s books, Lost in the Lake here.
Today I’m lucky enough to be staying in with Alison as she tells me about another of her books.
Staying in with A.J. Waines
Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Alison. Thanks so much for staying in with me today.
Thank you for hosting me, Linda, I know that tickets for your sofa are at a premium, so I’m delighted to be here!
(Ha! I’ve been lucky enough to stay in with well over 100 authors since I introduced this feature in 1st January! I’d love to have an actual party with you all.)
Tell me, Alison, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve brought along Don’t you Dare, my latest psychological thriller. It’s my seventh novel, but the first one to be published by Bloodhound Books, who I’m thrilled to say, offered me a two-book deal last year.
(How brilliant. Congratulations on both Don’t You Dare and the new publishing deal.)
What can we expect from an evening in with Don’t you Dare?
Don’t you Dare is unusual for a crime novel, in that someone is killed right at the start and we know who did it. What we don’t know is why and more importantly, what’s going to happen next. The book opens with a misunderstanding that leaves a mother and daughter trapped in a terrible dilemma. Neither of them plans to commit a crime, but something awful takes place that sends their lives spiralling out of control. The tension in the book comes from the different ways in which they handle what they’ve done. Who is going to keep their nerve? Who’ll be the first to crack? It’s a nail-biting ride and perfect (I hope) for fans of Ruth Ware, C.L Taylor and Clare Mackintosh!
(This sounds perfect!)
If it’s okay, I’d love to share the opening with you.
(Oh yes – please do.)
Wednesday evening, March 8
I knew something was wrong the moment I slipped the key into the lock.
A light was visible through the keyhole. I teased the door open a fraction and stopped dead. The fluorescent strip light wasn’t the source, instead there was a dim glow at the far end of the cellar. I edged the door open another couple of inches with my foot, holding it firm against the self-closing spring. The beam was coming from behind the empty stainless-steel kegs stacked on the floor under the trap door. Was there a cleaner here with a mop? The landlord fixing a leak? It couldn’t be. The landlord was in Marbella and the pub had been shut for nearly two weeks for refurbishments. No one had keys but me. There was only one explanation. An intruder must have got in and was snooping around with a torch.
I stood frozen on the top step, torn about what to do. If I backed out now I’d attract attention – the door always made a juddering sound when it closed. If I called the police from where I stood, I might be overheard. I had my eyes fixed on the light the whole time, hardly daring to blink, waiting for the beam to bob around to see which direction the burglar was moving in. Except the light didn’t move.
A man groaned, then came a scuffle, then a woman whimpering.
‘No. Let me go…get your filthy hands off me!’
I didn’t need to hear anymore. I knew my daughter’s voice anywhere and could tell instantly what was going on. In that split second, my mind was on one thing and one thing alone.
(Argh! You can’t leave us there. I’m now desperate to know what happens next!)
Whilst I recover from that opening, tell me, what else have you brought along and why?
I’ve got some photos I’d like to spread out on your coffee table, if I may?
(Oh yes you may. I love a good snoop over other people’s photos.)
They are of the house where the book is set and also some local panoramas which inspired a number of scenes. Let me explain a little. Recently, my husband and I were house-hunting and we looked at properties in Winchester. One of them was very run down with damp and mould. This was the back garden. I was hoping for a cottage garden with trees and sumptuous borders, so this would have needed a lot of work.
(Looks a bit like my own garden sadly Alison – take a look out of the conservatory window!)
What struck me most, however, was the odd arrangement in the bathroom.
It’s called a ‘Jack and Jill’ bathroom and I’d never come across one before. In order to save space, it sits between two bedrooms and has equal access from both sides. What you need to remember when you use it, is to lock the door to the room which isn’t yours! If you’re a guest, you must lock both, of course. Otherwise your privacy is compromised. I was fascinated by this and the layout plays a part in the story.
(That just shows you’re a writer. They always manage to magpie away details from what appears to be a mundane event to use as inspiration for writing.)
In the final stages of writing the book, I changed the ending. The last scenes were originally going to be set on a farm, with a character in the story being trapped in a horse-box that was about to go over the edge of the cliff. I had second thoughts about that, because it didn’t quite fit with what I wanted to have happen.
In real life, we’d moved house to a village on the south coast called Hamble-Le-Rice, in the end (not Winchester) and these photos show some of the magnificent views I can see only five minutes from the house. As a result, one of my favourite themes in all my novels – water (lakes, the sea, rivers) – plays a part. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I can’t say any more than that…
(You’re doing it again! I know I won’t rest until I’ve read Don’t You Dare now.)
Thanks so much for staying in with me Alison, to tell me all about Don’t You Dare. Apart from the frustration of not having read the book yet, I’ve really enjoyed our evening in.
Don’t You Dare
What if your daughter becomes your enemy?
When barmaid, Rachel, discovers her soon-to-be-married daughter, Beth, pinned down by a stranger in the pub cellar, Rachel lashes out in panic and the intruder ends up dead. In desperation, Rachel convinces Beth they should cover up the crime and go ahead with the planned wedding in one month’s time.
Rachel, however, has her own reasons for not involving the police.
Hiding their dreadful secret is harder than they both imagined and as the big day approaches and the lies multiply, Beth becomes a liability. Rachel looks on in dismay at the hen party when, after too many drinks, Beth declares she’s about to make a special announcement. But before Beth can say a word, she disappears…
When two people share a chilling secret, can both hold their nerve?
This book explores the dark side of a mother-daughter relationship when pushed to the limit.
It will appeal to fans of authors like Ruth Ware, Clare Mackintosh and C.L. Taylor.
About A.J. Waines
AJ Waines has sold over 450,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).
Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and has been ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.