‘Readers like to get invested in unravelling the mystery as they read’
A decade ago, Anna Clarke’s parents disappeared and she hopes her job in a busy city Garda Station will one day help her find answers. However, things get sidetracked when the case of a man shot dead crosses her desk – and Anna is shocked to discover that the main suspect is her childhood friend Kate Crowley. Certain that Kate is innocent, Anna is determined to help her clear her name. But first she has to find her…
Do you find writing this genre challenging? What is most challenging?
The challenge of writing in any genre is to hook the reader and keep them engaged with your characters as the plot unfolds.
I don’t find crime thrillers challenging to write because the storyline is so fast paced and engaging. As I wrote Blinding Lies I was excited by the story and really keen to reach the next point in the book, and so it flowed for me. Crime thrillers are the books I love to read; they offer that one-more-page quality that I adore. Hopefully readers will feel this way about Blinding Lies.
The only aspect I found challenging was to write while the children were in the room – and this became heightened when we were on lockdown! Although writing Blinding Lies was very cathartic for me at that time, distracting me from the daily covid updates, I wrote it at the kitchen table. At times, it was a challenge to find the headspace I needed to keep everything focused. Most of the book was written in snatches of time when I could tap into the plot again.
What level of research did you have to undertake?
Anna is a clerical officer working in a busy city centre Garda station. I used to work as a clerical officer, in different departments, and the hustle and bustle of Anna’s office is something I drew from my own experience. In Blinding Lies I offer the perspective of some of the detectives, and outline procedures at certain points in the novel, and I researched this online to be as accurate as I could. I read many police procedural novels, and these were certainly helpful in understanding the nature and steps in police investigations.
How important is ‘the twist’ when writing thrillers?
As a reader I expect there to be a twist near the end of the book, or indeed several twists throughout, when I’m reading this genre. I love to try to figure it out as I progress through the book and am thrilled when I get it wrong!
As a writer, it’s quite satisfying when a reader tells you they were shocked by the twists and revelations in your book. I think ‘the twist’ in thrillers can offer something memorable, a lasting feeling of surprise that elevates the book. I’ve lost count of the number of times a book has been recommended to me with the phrase “you’ll never figure out the twist!” Well, I love a challenge, and it’s a great hook for a novel; readers like to get invested in unravelling the mystery as they read.
How has the pandemic helped or hindered your writing?
The pandemic helped me to write. In late 2019 I began to write Blinding Lies, typing whenever I got the chance.
As lockdown arrived and our schools and workplaces closed, writing took on an even greater importance for me. Writing the novel became my solace from the daily covid figures and news coverage. It was a slice of time that I carved out for myself to do something distracting, and even though it is a crime thriller, it became quite meditative to write. It helped me to switch off from the fear of the pandemic, even if just for a few hours a day.
I have two young children, and when the country went into lockdown, we were all together every hour of the day. It was strange for everyone. I focused more on writing then, on finishing the book, because it was the only time I had to myself. Once home-schooling was done and they children were playing, I would sit down to write. The pandemic definitely helped me to focus on Blinding Lies, and the book helped me escape the pandemic! I was never able to finish a book before - in a strange way, the timing was right.
What do you hope readers take from Blinding Lies?
I hope readers take from Blinding Lies what I did as I wrote it – an escape from reality for a few hours.
I really enjoyed creating the character of Anna – I think she’s fascinating. She’s a very strong young woman, yet vulnerable in her own way. She is surrounded by loving people and has many wonderful relationships in her life. Blinding Lies features a period of time where she encounters the darker side of humanity, and she has to draw on all her strengths to survive. She’s a very regular person thrust into a thrilling situation. I hope readers will root for Anna, as I do, and that they’ll find her story gripping and be compelled to follow the mystery as it unfolds with her.
Would you be interested in writing other genres?
While crime thrillers are my favourite, I love to read all genres – there’s no greater feeling than opening a new book! I am in awe of the skill of writers as diverse as Marian Keyes and Stephen King and enjoy fantasy books as well. To me, a good book is one which takes me out of ‘real-life’ for a few hours, and I enjoy that escapism in all genres. I’ve written stories for my children that we enjoy over and over, and perhaps one day they might find their way to being published.
I’d love to write a horror story, but I think I’ll stick to thrillers for now!
Blinding Lies by Amy Cronin, Poolbeg Press, £12.99, is available now