To celebrate the release of her new psychological thriller, The Night of the Party, we asked Anna-Lou Weatherley to let us in on some of the most interesting things she gets asked as an author - and to debunk some of the myths that surround that! Here's what she had to reveal...
1. Are your books autobiographical, or is the main protagonist based upon you?
I think in some ways many of the characters I have created in my novels have traits I can understand, identify with and relate to but none of them has ever solely been based upon me, or my life, directly.
Some of their experiences, thoughts and emotions are ones I have shared on a personal level to a lesser or more degree, which I hope makes them authentic and three dimensional, but thankfully I have never murdered anyone or been accused of it!
Similarly, people often ask if I base characters on people I know, and again, never directly, but I have used many people I know – and their experiences - as inspiration for my work.
2. Where do you get your ideas from?
I always find this question the trickiest to answer. Truth is, I’m not entirely sure myself, they just seem to come. I’m constantly thinking of new plots, characters and ideas and I often have three or four ruminating inside my mind at the same time. The idea or characters I can’t stop thinking about is an indicator of the ones I should pursue.
Ideas are subconscious to me. I do draw inspiration from the things I see and hear everyday, a quote, a thought, a feeling, or a subject that interests me. I’m fascinated by human psychology, especially the darker side of the human condition, and what makes people tick. I suppose I like to write the sorts of stories that I would like to read and that would interest me.
I suppose I have quite a dark and twisted imagination.
3. You must be rich and famous?
The short answer to this is: no, on both counts. It always surprises me how people seem to believe that if you’ve had a book published then you must be rich! The truth is that it often takes years of hard graft, disappointments and determination to get to the point where you can make a living from your work. So I feel extremely humble and blessed (and privileged) that I am in a position to do so.
JK Rowling is a good example of the rags-to-riches writing success story, but for most authors the reality is very different.
At one point during my career I was so disheartened simply because it was not a viable financial option for me to keep on writing, but I refused to give up (I got an evening job and was even on benefits at one point). I’m so glad I didn’t because the title I was then writing, The Couple on Cedar Close, went on to become a bestseller and allowed me to carry on doing what I truly love. All my books are special to me, but this one is extra special for that reason.
4. What other work do you do besides writing?
I have a friend who gets infuriated when he tells people he’s an actor and they reply with, ‘Cool…but what else do you do?’ or, ‘do you get paid to do it?’; he says it’s akin to asking an astronaut if they’ve ever been in to space!
As with many creative and artistic careers, people sometimes assume that it is simply a hobby and not a ‘real’ job. Tell that to an author on deadline and they’ll write you into the next novel’s body count! Writing is not just my career, it is not just what I do, it is who I am.
5. How do you deal with writer's block?
I tell myself there is no such thing! Of course, some days it flows easier than others (Oh, how I love those times!), but when or if I come to a sticking point, I always try to write through it, even if I go back and delete it all the next day. If I’m struggling, I sometimes step away from it and go and do something else for a short while, think things through and ruminate a little, but then I force myself to go back and push ahead.
Sometimes, if I feel like I’m losing the thread or things aren’t working the way I would like, I go back and re-read everything from the start and this seems to help. But my advice to anyone would always be just keep going and write through the pain - you absolutely can do it.
Anna-Lou Weatherley's new book, The Night of the Party, is available now.
Tagged in Books