Aga Lesiewicz is a former TV producer and director. A knee injury led to a change in her career and prompted her to write her first psychological thriller 'Rebound'. She lives in London and today she shares her top ten tips for writing, ten things we should know about being an author and tells us why psychological thrillers set in London are such a good combination.
Top ten reasons to set psychological thrillers in London:
- There are actually 8.6 million reasons to set a psychological thriller in London – that’s 8.6 million of potential criminals, victims, and readers
- Its size – you can pack a lot of crime into 611 square miles
- Its transport network - 11 tube lines, 270 stations, 8000 buses – the likelihood of crossing paths with a psycho, especially if the next train is more than three minutes away, is pretty high
- The weather – dull, grey, cold, miserable – a perfect setting for a murder
- The pace of life – it’s never boring (try taking a relaxing stroll along Oxford Street)
- Its literary heritage – show me a city that has more crime books written about it
- The abundance of coffee-shops- you need caffeine to be mean
- The abundance of estate agents – don’t get me started on this one
- ‘The best thing about London is Paris’ – the famous quote by a legendary Harper’s Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland makes sense in this context. London’s proximity to Paris (thanks to Eurostar) and the rest of Europe makes it a perfect literary crime location
- Its spirit – something edgy, charming, and indefinable
Top ten things about being a writer
- Lawrence Kasdan, a famous American screenwriter, said that ‘Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.’ It’s true!
- It’s a tough job – no one gets away without doing their homework
- It’s lonely – it’s just you and a blank page (or a computer screen)
- Other people think you’re doing nothing (surely staring at a blank page doesn’t count as work!)
- Other people think you have lots of time (see number 4)
- Deadlines (see number 4 and 5)
- It’s the best revenge (when your enemies end up in your books)
- Your dog loves you (because you work from home)
- Your cat hates you (because you work from home)
- But seriously – it’s the best job in the world!
Top ten tips on how to write a book
- Write about something you know. If you venture into a territory you know nothing about, you’re bound to make mistakes.
- Do your research. It goes hand in hand with number 1. If you’re sloppy with your facts, you’ll get rumbled – by your editor if you’re lucky, or by your readers if you’re out of luck.
- Don’t be afraid to push your boundaries. While writing my first crime book I really struggled with the concept of killing off a likeable character. The plot demanded it and I did it, but it was hard.
- Persevere. We all have good days and bad days. The trick is to keep going, even if writing is the last thing you want to do.
- Edit mercilessly. Editing is a crucial stage of writing. I start every day with editing the text I’d written the day before.
- Read others. Reading other authors is essential. Listen to Stephen King: ‘The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.’
- Allow your characters to surprise you. If your characters begin to surprise you, it means you’ve succeeded in making them real.
- Find your own writing rhythm. Writing in 30-minute bursts, with short tea-breaks in-between, works for me. The average human attention span is about twenty minutes (stretched to thirty if your tea is strong).
- Always stop writing at the point from which it’s easy to carry on (unless you’ve reached the end of the book).
- Don’t get discouraged by bad reviews. They’re bound to happen. And they hurt like hell. But ultimately, as Iris Murdoch said, ‘A bad review is even less important than whether it is raining in Patagonia.’