I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Girl Targeted by Val Collins.
Val is chatting to us about her characters, what inspired her to write and much more.
First, here’s more about Girl Targeted:
Aoife’s life is finally on track. She’s happily married, pregnant with her first child and has the world’s best mother-in-law. But when Aoife accepts a job as an office temp, her entire life begins to unravel.
Is one of Aoife’s colleagues a murderer? Is Aoife the next target? Why is her husband unconcerned?
Can office politics lead to murder?
Girl Targeted is a perfect read for fans of Behind Closed Doors, Girl on a Train and the Silent Wife.
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise Girl Targeted in 20 words or less.
A psychological thriller/suspense set in Ireland. Aoife’s entire life falls apart when she accepts a job as an office temp.
Please tell us about the characters in your novel.
Aoife (pronounced Eee-fah)
The main character in Girl Targeted is twenty-three year old Aoife. Aoife has been through hard times but she’s now happily married and has the world’s best mother in law. But when she decides to investigate the death of a colleague, Aoife realises nothing in her life is what she thought it was.
Aoife’s husband. During the course of the book he changes from a protective, loving husband to one who has no interest in Aoife’s safety and is unconcerned that she appears to be the murderer’s next target.
Laura, Joe and Rachel
Aoife’s colleagues. Are they her friends or is one of them the murderer? Why are they keeping secrets from her?
Aoife’s mother in law. Couldn’t be more helpful but is she also keeping secrets?
Dan and Robert
CEO and Finance Manager. Why are they so nervous that Aoife’s investigating the murder?
What scene did you enjoy writing the most Val?
The beginning and the climax. I hadn’t written anything since I was a child so it was a real surprise to me that I was able to string two sentences together. I wrote everything in sequence until half way through the book when I suddenly pictured the climax. I was so excited I had to write it that day.
… and the hardest?
The middle. I had such a clear picture of the beginning and the end but I knew there was something very wrong with the middle. I read a lot about writing and attended a creative writing class but I needed more help. That’s when I decided to hire an editor. I knew nothing about editors. It would have helped if I belonged to Scribophile at the time because I had no one to turn to. I was worried because there are so many people on the internet who are not who they claim to be. Of course now I know I should have checked the Alliance of Independent Authors but it was some time before I even heard of them. Eventually I discovered Cornerstones and they paired me with Debz Hobbs Wyatt. I can’t tell you what a difference it made. I worked with her for a few months and by the end I had written an extra 20,000 words. Basically she showed me how to rewrite most of the middle and how to develop it properly.
If your novel is part of a series, what is in the future?
I’ve started writing book 2. It’s a continuation of Aoife’s life. Someone she is close to is accused of murder and she tries to find out the truth. I can’t say much about it yet because it’s at a very early stage and, as I write, I may find the story heading in a different direction.
What inspired you to write Val?
I wrote a lot as a child but I gave it up around the age of ten. When I was in my twenties I attended a creative writing course. At the end we all wrote a short story. I wasn’t seriously thinking of writing back then but I was interested in the process. The story I wrote probably wasn’t very good. I didn’t understand the importance of re-writing and went with my first draft. The story was fictional but it touched on aspects of my life. What really shocked me was that everyone in the class assumed it was real. I realised that these total strangers knew more about me than many of my friends. It really freaked me out and I didn’t attempt writing again for years. A few years ago I had more time on my hands than usual so one day I just decided to write. I could picture the first scene so clearly and I got such pleasure from writing it that I can’t imagine why I wasted all those years. I figure everything you write reveals something about yourself but that doesn’t bother me any more.
Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?
I like to sit at my kitchen table. I know everyone says you shouldn’t do that but it suits me. The window looks out on fields and some days I can see riders training their horses. I’m pretty sure the owners got planning permission for that field before the property bust. Now the property market is booming again, I’ll probably be looking out on houses before long but in the meantime I find the view very relaxing and I look forward to sitting at my computer each day. For inspiration I go for a walk. Lots of ideas come to me when I’m walking, thinking about nothing at all. Of course, it only works if you go for a walk on your own.
Panster or a plotter?
Definitely a panster. I began with a rough idea of the story. I knew the victim and the murderer and had a very clear picture of both but I had no idea how the story was going to come together. As I wrote, ideas came to me. I wouldn’t be able to sit down and plot a story. I wish I could. It would save me a lot of time but that’s not the way my mind works.
Have you joined any writing groups?
I belong to Scribophile but I’d written Girl Targeted before I heard of them. So although I’ve never submitted any of my book for critique through that forum, I find them a very useful resource. So many of their members have been writing for years and they’re a mine of information.
Finally Val, are there any tips you could share with new writers?
I would advise anyone to just sit down and write. My first job was as a secretary and back then I was nervous drafting basic correspondence. If anyone had told me that someday I would write a book, I would have thought they were nuts. I’d also say, you have to stick with it. At some stage everyone loses confidence in their writing and thinks what they’ve written is rubbish. You have to leave it for a while. After a break it will probably seem better. If it doesn’t, then you need input from someone else to give you a new perspective on your story.
Thank you for being my guest.
Wishing you success with all your writing projects.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read but writing is a pretty new adventure for me.
Of course I wrote stories when I was very young and I especially loved rewriting the ends of movies but I was an impatient kid and had an unfortunate tendency towards perfectionism. When, at around the age of ten, I realised my attempts at writing dialogue were dire, my writing career came to an abrupt end. A few years ago I decided to try my hand at writing again and Girl Targeted was the eventual result.
Girl Targeted is set in Ireland where I have lived all my life. It’s set in an office, an environment I know well as my entire working life has been spent doing office work. I’ve worked for small and medium sized organisations, for multinationals and for many different business sectors. Unfortunately, I was never lucky enough to come across anything as exciting as a murder so I had to rely on my imagination to create Aoife’s world.
I really loved writing Girl Targeted and I hope you enjoy reading it.
Connect with Val Collins
Don’t forget to check out the other hosts on tour.