Owen Hall has always been different. A big man with an unusual fixation, one who prefers to put his trust in number patterns rather than in people, it's unsurprising that he'd draw the attention of a bully.
Or a murder investigation.
And, in the storm of emotions and accusations that erupts when a violent killing affects a small community, it soon becomes clear that a particularly clever murderer might just get away with it.
All they'd need is a likely suspect . . .
You can read my review of Lie In Wait here:
Bibliomaniac Review Lie In Wait
I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Graham Minett to my blog today as part of the Blog Tour for Lie in Wait! Graham has very kindly agreed to take part in an interview so without further ado, I shall get on with our conversation!
Hello Graham and thanks ever so much for coming along to Bibliomaniac's blog today!
Had you been carrying the story idea for Lie In Wait with you for a while or did it evolve once you had finished The Hidden Legacy?
In all honesty, the moment I finished The Hidden Legacy I started work on another novel which I finished and sent off to my agent. He read it and told me to stick it in a drawer and chalk it up to experience because it wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t very happy at the time as you can imagine but he was right and fortunately the character of Owen Hall had already started to take root in my thoughts so I was able to get stuck into Lie In Wait without too much of a break.
Lie In Wait is quite different from your first novel. Was that a conscious decision?
Not really, no. I think the main reason for the difference is that The Hidden Legacy wasn’t originally going to be a novel. The prologue was written as an academic piece as part of the MA I was doing and it was only when it won a national competition for opening chapters that I found myself in the unusual position of having to come up with a storyline to go with an opening, rather than the other way around. With Lie In Wait the intention from the outset was to write a novel with a crime at the heart of it. If the two novels are linked in any way though, I’d say it’s the fact that they both revolve around strong central characters who are bewildered by events going on around them.
Some authors plan their storylines on excel spread sheets, some use post-it notes, some carry it all in their heads. Do you have a preferred method for planning your complex plots?
I spend months planning before I even write a word. For The Hidden Legacy I used a huge board and filled it with cards that were pinned to it, each one containing the scenes for a particular chapter. For Lie In Wait and for book 3 which I’m writing at present I’ve switched to a Word document which details every individual scene, what it will tell me about a character and how it will move the action forward. I also have detailed timelines that tell me what was happening on certain dates and what each of the characters knew at that point, as well as detailing dates of birth, marriages, ages etc. I’m an unapologetic planner.
Lie in Wait is set in Chichester. How important is the location in your novels and were there any difficulties in setting it so firmly in a ‘real’ place?
It was hugely important to me for The Hidden Legacy as I grew up in Cheltenham and The Cotswolds, love the area and wanted to work something out of my system, I think. Part of the challenge for me was to make readers who have never been there feel as if they know the place and I’m proud of how it all turned out. In Lie In Wait I opted for the area on the South Coast where I live now because it was familiar and that made any research much easier. In book 3 I’ve set it in the area around Rye, Camber Sands and Winchelsea as well as a place called Peaks Island off the coast of Portland, Maine. I spent a few days in Rye to research it and my wife and I went to have a good look at Peaks Island last summer. I’m not sure how important the location will be in future novels. I suspect, if I want to make some sort of breakthrough in the US, I may need to make my novels less obviously English but that’s for the future.
In terms of the journey from the first draft to the final publication, was there anything you did differently or approached differently this time now that you had already been through the process once before? Were there any particular lessons you had learned from the first time round?
The one big lesson I’ve learned is that it’s so difficult to find time to write it. I allowed myself four months to write book 3 which was less than I’d originally envisaged but I’d worked it out as about 750 words a day which seemed relatively straightforward. What I hadn’t factored in – and should have – were the other things that have been demanding my time. I’m still working at a school until Easter, I’m training up my replacement, I’m writing blogs every day for the blog tour, I’m making appearances to promote the book, frequently making journeys that require an overnight stay, and also travelling often to London to meet with my agent and publishers as well as supporting other authors when their books come out. And then there’s social media – that takes up about two hours every day if I’m going to thank people for re-tweeting or for reviewing the novels. It all adds up and leaves me frequently having to write between 2000 and 3000 words a day for a while to catch up.
Hope it doesn’t sound like a moan – I love it but it will be a lot easier when I’m writing full-time.
What have you enjoyed most about writing your second novel? Did the fact it was your second book affect any part of the creative process?
What I enjoyed most was what I also loved about the first one. As a reader I like to peel away layers of mystery and intrigue and try to get to the heart of the story before the author reveals all. I don’t care if I’m wrong – as long as it all holds together and doesn’t rely totally upon ridiculous coincidences or behaviour which is totally out of keeping with what we know of the character, I’ll applaud the author. I try to write what I enjoy reading and loved the challenge in Lie In Wait of revealing the murderer’s identity two-thirds of the way through and yet still retaining the interest of the readers by and following the investigation dangling the ‘will they/won’t they’ issue in front of them.
The only way in which the fact that it was my second novel affected the process was my publishers’ preference for it to sit a little more firmly in the crime genre than The Hidden Legacy did. It wasn’t a problem in any way.
Both your novels are psychological thrillers. Do you think this is the genre in which you may continue to write or have you something else planned for book three?!
I’m now 65,000 words into book 3 and can say with some degree of certainty that this is the right genre for me at the present time. I feel very comfortable with the material and have found a writing style which works for me and hopefully appeals to readers as well.
I’m no different from most novelists, I guess, in imagining that I have a really serious, ‘worthy’ novel in me and the very fact that my literary heroes are Maggie O’Farrell and Kate Atkinson makes me wish all the time that I could follow in their footsteps and have the chance to write something overtly literary. Maybe one day. For now though, I’m very happy with what I’m doing. When I get moments of frustration, as all writers do, I simply remind myself that just over two years ago I had no publishing deal and might have been forgiven for thinking I’d never get a book out there. And I didn’t know wonderful people like Bibliomaniac even existed!
Sometimes I have to pinch myself.
Ah, too kind Graham! When I get to do a blog post like this and interview my favourite authors, I also sometimes have to pinch myself too!
Thanks so much for taking part today! It's been an absolute pleasure to chat to you about Lie In Wait.
Lie in Wait was published in paperback on 9th March 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre.
More about GJ Minett
Graham was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and lived there for 18 years before studying for a degree in Modern and Medieval Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge.
He taught for several years, first in Cheltenham and then in West Sussex before opting to go part-time and start an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. Completing the course in 2008, he gained a distinction for the dissertation under the guidance of novelist, Alison MacLeod and almost immediately won the Segora Short Story Competition with ‘On the Way Out’.
Other awards soon followed, most notably his success in the 2010 Chapter One novel competition with what would eventually become the opening pages of his debut novel. He was signed up by Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency, who managed to secure a two-book deal with twenty7, the digital-first adult fiction imprint of Bonnier Publishing.
"The Hidden Legacy" was published as an eBook in November 2015 and the paperback version was published in August 2016. The second book in the deal, entitled "Lie in Wait", was published as an eBook in August 2016 and the paperback version will be on the shelves in bookshops around the country in March 2017.
Graham lives with his wife and children in West Sussex but retains close links with the rest of his family in Cheltenham.
For more recommendations and reviews you can follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)