I’m delighted to be on Rachel’s Random Resources tour hosting Shauna Bickley in my hot seat who is chatting to us about The Worst Lie.
If you like British crime novels featuring ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, then you’ll love this gripping tale of secrets, lies and obsession that leads to murder.
Madelaine had everything she wanted.
Friends, a successful film career, and a loving boyfriend.
Then she was dead…
Lexie’s friend Helen was part of a close-knit group at university. Now, ten years later, Helen is fearful when another of the group reappears and suggests a reunion.
Lexie contrives an invitation to the weekend get-together at one of England’s ancient stone circles where one of the group admits they believe their long-dead friend was murdered.
Lexie discovers each of the group has secrets and each has lied, but could they also have committed murder?
There is another death at the stone circles, and Lexie uncovers information that may connect the two crimes… and implicate her good friend.
Is someone targeting the former students, or is the killer one of the group?
Hi Shauna, welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Hello Shaz and thanks for inviting me on your blog.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
The Worst Lie is the second standalone novel featuring Lexie Wyatt. The initial inspiration for Lexie’s character was thinking about how a high-flying workaholic would feel and react when she loses her job in a company restructure. Added to that mix is a move to a small town when her husband is offered a great promotion.
The inspiration for this book was getting together with some friends I hadn’t seen for a number of years and thinking about how people change over time, but also how some characteristics and relationships remain the same (good and bad), and then turning what for me was a great reunion into something entirely different.
How do your characters come into existence Shauna? Do they have a bio?
This is the part where an author starts to sound a little crazy! The main character generally comes to me along with the initial inciting event (the thing that starts the story going) or with a problem to solve. In The Worst Lie Lexie’s good friend Helen is anxious to the point of being scared when an old university friend turns up talking about a reunion and mentioning another friend who died under suspicious circumstances shortly after leaving university.
I don’t have an in-depth bio on each, but I do try and keep some basic notes on characteristics, description and family relationships and friends.
Can you tell us more about the characters in The Worst Lie
Lexie as previously mentioned was a high-flyer in the city who moves to a small town and whose initial lack of purpose leads her into investigating some curious happenings. The group of university friends includes Eden, an investigative journalist who is on a mission to prove her friend Madelaine didn’t commit suicide. Spike is now a famous film director, Eden describes him as, ‘…witty and smart and very talented. On the flip side, he cares more about those things than people.’ Spike was an absolute joy to write as a character. He’s flippant and doesn’t care who he upsets as long as he does it in a witty manner. He’s the type of person that’s fun to be around as long as you’re not on the receiving end of his wit. Added into this is Eden’s old boyfriend who is now married to Renelle, another member of the group that Spike and Eden don’t like. Shake and stir and you have a wonderfully toxic mix in which to throw a couple of bodies.
What scene did you enjoy writing the most Shauna?
I enjoyed writing all the scenes in which Spike appears. I’m not at all like him so it was great to come up with sarcastic comments to throw into the tough conversations. Spike likes to say things that cause discord or make people annoyed and then sit back and watch what happens, but all done under the façade of being amusing.
Did you do any research? What resources did you use?
I did more research than I initially thought I might need. Lexie and the other friends are mid-thirties in the present which means they went to university in the early 2000s. Some of the events that Lexie has to research from that time wouldn’t have been reported in the major press and small local newspapers weren’t online then so she has to use local libraries and microfiche.
The location of the two stone circles is a fictional place that I called Little Stillford. It’s roughly based on Avebury, but for the story plot it needed to be a larger setting with cafés and shops. I also changed the surrounding area and planted quite a large wood surrounding the stone circles and made the stones taller and more imposing than the actual ones at Avebury and in a smaller area. I enjoyed reading up on the history and possible use of stone circles and long barrows. On a visit to England last year I had a wonderful time visiting Avebury and doing some retrospective research!
The Worst Lie is part of a series, what’s in the future?
The future for Lexie is another murder to solve. She is interviewing a crime writer for her job on a magazine, but when Lexie goes to visit she finds the writer stabbed to death.
Do you have a theme for your book covers? Who designs them?
The answer to the theme question is generally no. I’m working more on themes and branding for my book covers retrospectively. That’s a piece of advice for aspiring authors — it’s never too early to consider future books you might write whether in a series or other standalones.
I’m not very talented graphically and rely a lot on Andrew of Design for Writers. For the two Lexie Wyatt books I did have the basic idea of what I wanted but left the rest to Andrew.
Panster or plotter?
I’m somewhere in the middle. The characters and general storyline have usually been floating around my head for some time before I start writing so by then I know what happens in the first quarter, but after that it comes more scene by scene. There’s a quote I like by E.L. Doctorow who said,
‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’
Not everyone writes in the same way, but that’s certainly how it works for me.
Have you joined any writing groups?
I’ve been a member of a small writing critique group for the past ten years. We try and meet up about once every two months. It used to be more often but over the years we’ve become more widespread geographically. However, we talk a lot via email and messaging and as we’ve built up a lot of trust through the time we’ve been together we’re all happy to send off a piece of writing for feedback via email if we don’t have a meeting arranged. We write in a range of styles and genres but the feedback is great and every writer needs other eyes on their manuscript at some point. On a more personal level, we’ve also been through personal highs and lows and it’s wonderful to have a group of like-minded friends to share the good times and the not-so-good.
Finally, can you share with us what you are working on now Shauna?
The next Lexie novel is still in the ‘thinking it through’ stage, and my current work in progress is a sequel to my chicklit novel, Writing the Stars. I got the idea for the first book when my husband mentioned that the partner of someone he knows writes horoscopes for magazines. My writing brain immediately thought what an amazing job. A horoscope writer whose life turns upside down with things she doesn’t see in the stars, and so Anna King was born. The sequel is set in London and while both are standalone novels the main characters are in both books. Before I started the first book I did a lot of research on how you actually write horoscopes and I enjoyed doing that as properly as I could for the book. Each section and chapter is structured around the monthly horoscopes Anna writes for one of her magazine clients and they’re an interesting way of foreshadowing what’s about to happen.
Many thanks again and happy reading to you and your followers, Shauna xx
Thank you for being my guest today. Wishing you success with all your writing projects.
Shauna writes crime novels featuring characters who aren’t afraid to find murderers, solve mysteries and generally get themselves in all sorts of danger. In real life, Shauna wouldn’t be found doing any of these things.
As well as murder mysteries and thrillers, Shauna also enjoys writing and reading contemporary women’s fiction with a little mystery and romance.
Shauna has recently released two Christmas romance novels set in New Zealand (where Christmas is in summer). She has had short fiction published in the Awesome Indies Anthology, Bravado magazine and appeared in several competition anthologies.
Shauna was born in England and now lives in the Waikato, New Zealand.
Twitter: @ShaunaBickley Website https://www.shaunabickley.com/