Lorna Dounaeva image of the author
Author Lorna Dounaeva

1) I love to get up at the crack of dawn

I’ve always been an early riser. I prefer not to set an alarm, but I try to go to bed early, and get up as soon as I wake. I love that time in the early morning, when it feels like the rest of the world is asleep. Sometimes I fantasize that there has been an apocalypse, and I’m the last person left alive. I love the sound of the dawn chorus and watching the sun come up. I relish my first, blissful cup of coffee, that feeling of endless possibilities, knowing that I have the whole day ahead of me.

2) I always wanted to live by the sea

I finally achieved my dream in time for Christmas 2022 when I moved my family from Surrey, five hundred and fifty miles away to the beautiful Orkney islands. Now I get to look out at the waves every day. I can walk down to the beach whenever I want. I can smell the sea air. My lobster obsessed son can forage to his heart’s content. The dog can run for miles along the beach.

3) I flew with the Dalai Lama

Ten years ago, I set off from London, via Vienna, to visit family in Ukraine. I stepped onto a plane, clutching the hand of my eldest son, who was just a toddler at the time. I was also holding my baby daughter in my arms. I took a few steps forward and blinked. The plane was filled with Buddhist monks. Rows and rows of them, and there in the centre was the Dalai Lama. He looked over at my son and gave him a cheeky grin. I’m not a religious person, but that was the calmest flight I’ve ever been on.

4) I put out a fire in a stranger’s home

I was walking back from dropping my son off at school when I heard a smoke alarm. My friend went up to the house and knocked but no one answered. We both smelt smoke. Somebody called the fire brigade. While we were waiting, another friend walked round to the back and saw smoke coming from the stove. He tried the door and found it was open, yet still no one was answering. I saw a pram and ran inside. Luckily, the pram was empty. I kept calling out, but no one answered so I put out the fire and got out of there. It was several more minutes before the fire brigade arrived. 

5) I don’t know what bacon tastes like

My family went vegetarian when I was very young, for ethical reasons. I have no memories of eating meat, and no interest in trying it. I’ve no problem with other people eating it around me. I’m not the least bit fussy about my food touching meat, it’s just not something that interests me, anymore than the thought of trying say, crickets or bugs.

6) I have a driving phobia

I was surprised to pass my driving test on my fourth attempt, weeks after giving birth to my youngest son. I drove quite a bit those first few years, but never shook my fear, and then covid hit and I barely drove at all. I still try it from time to time, I’m okay to drive people home if they’ve had a few drinks but really hate driving alone. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it.

7) I love the Eurovision song contest

I haven’t missed it in 27 years. I even went to see it live in Kyiv, back in 2005. I never watch the semi finals. I try not to find out anything about it before the big night because I don’t want to pre-judge any of the songs. I enjoy the performances as much as the music. I love the way they range from sad and serious to outright whacky and hilarious. My husband and I always score all the songs and have our own little competition to see who was closest to the actual results.

Author bio:

Lorna Dounaeva is a politics graduate who worked for the British Home Office before turning to crime fiction. She writes dark domestic thrillers and is especially fond of female villains. She lives in the Orkney islands with her Ukrainian husband and his parents, three children, a crafty cat and a happy dog.

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Lorna Dounaeva's Latest Book 'The Wife's Mistake' released 19th February 2024

The Wife's Mistake by Lorna Dounaeva cover image
The Wife's Mistake

I have the life I’ve always dreamed of… but how long will it be until the past catches up with me?

I can’t believe how far my husband, Hayden, and I have come. I never expected that one day I’d be sipping a steaming coffee over our marble countertop or finishing off a humid summer day with a dip in our sparkling pool. But even though we’re living in paradise, I’ve never felt so distant from my husband. I’m certain he’s hiding something from me. Before, I would have confided in my friends and family but in this new life of ours, I’m terrified to trust anyone…

Now, with Hayden out again, my evening is quiet. From our floor-to-ceiling windows, I watch the pool water ripple under the raindrops. But I swear I see movement beyond the garden hedges. I try to shake my fears away, I must be imagining things. That’s what Hayden would say.

But then I find the hand-delivered note and my heart pounds in my chest as I scan the neat words.

You don’t deserve this life.

My blood runs cold. I thought I’d kept all my secrets well hidden, but now as I look out to the still night, I realise it’s only a matter of time until my past catches up with me – a past my husband still has no idea about. I know what I have to do to protect my perfect new life, but those around me have no idea how far I’m willing to go to keep it…

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