An Interview with Alison Bruce

This evening Alison Launches her new stand alone psychological thriller in Cambridge, at Heffers. I was lucky enough to be at an event just before Christmas and get a sneaky copy... and am so pleased I had the holiday's to enjoy the read. 

Over to Alison. 

1.       Where did you get the inspiration for your latest story?

I was at Crime in the Court in London talking to an editor when, in the space of about 30 seconds, the entire plot flashed into my head.  In fact, it was so clear that I had to question whether I was remembering a book I’d previously read.  But no, the plot was definitely my own and I left the event shortly afterwards and walked with my agent to her tube station.  It didn’t matter that I was now in the wrong part of London, rather than going home I sat for two hours as the sun set on Trafalgar Square and thought about the storyline and characters.  By the end of the evening I knew virtually every scene that would make it to the final version.

2.       Do you think of the twists first then the story, or does this change every time?

Sometimes you can think of a twist and it is so good that it is worth constructing the book around it. Other times the twist appears as a plot. On this occasion, everything happen so quickly but I have no idea which came first.

3.       How much involvement do you have in the cover design, and how important do you think book covers are?

Covers are incredibly important. With my second novel, The Siren, the early cover was less appealing than the others in the same series and it sold more slowly and when the cover changed the sales suddenly picked up. Of course sales are important, but it’s also about looking at the book and feeling that the cover represents the story. I’m delighted with the cover of I Did It for Us and I feel it gives the readers a strong sense of what to expect from the book itself. 

4.       If you were not an author, what would your chosen career be?

When I was at primary school a teacher asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, “Be a pathologist,” I replied. The teacher recoiled slightly and I felt as though I’d said something wrong but here I am, all these years later, and I’m still fascinated by crime. I don’t know exactly what I would do if I wasn’t an author; my science abilities definitely aren’t good enough for pathology but I think I would be working in a crime related area... on the right side of the law!

5.       How different was it from writing a standalone to the series?

Writing books in a series and writing a standalone both have huge plus points. In a series I have the pleasure of returning to characters and locations that I’ve enjoyed writing about and have spent time developing.  With a standalone I have the opportunity to do something completely fresh and that’s exciting too.  

6.       Which of your books have you enjoyed writing to date and why?

The first book I wrote was The Calling and I have fond memories of writing that one because I was learning as I was writing. The Siren and The Backs were both books which I plotted thoroughly and then wrote without much deviation, perhaps I had headaches with them at the time but I remember them both as being very enjoyable writing experiences. I Did It for Us was very special to write because the story was so clear to me before I began and that made it feel as though I was recounting memories rather than creating fiction.


6 – Thank you for taking part in my Questionnaire, can I please ask a few final questions.

Did you always have in mind the ending for Goodhew series as you did?

By the time I was three books in I knew that there would be seven books in the series and exactly where Goodhew would end up. I knew about Goodhew’s grandparents when I was writing Cambridge Blue and I knew enough to plant information ready for book seven, Cambridge Black.

And how interesting was it to write about Cambridge, but bringing it alive in death?

When I decided to set my books in Cambridge I walked around with that in mind and quickly realised that the city has so much history and diversity that there was potential to create backdrops to virtually every story I could imagine. I have so much more to explore in Cambridge and my next challenge is to look for locations that don’t remind me of Goodhew.

Author of the DC Goodhew Novels
And now the standalone thriller I Did It for Us

Alison Bruce is fascinating. Her imagination is always unpredictable and her writing is challenging and compelling - Sophie Hannah

I Did It For Us held me from the off. It's compelling, slickly plotted and brilliantly written - Amanda Jennings



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