Today I’m delighted to welcome thriller writer Emma Haughton to the blog.
Emma is the author of three gripping YA novels.
Now You See Me, was published in 2014 and nominated for the Carnegie and the Amazing Book Awards.
Better Left Buried was chosen by the Sunday Express as one of the best YA reads for 2015.
Her third novel – Cruel Heart Broken – came out in July 2016.
Emma grew up in Sussex, England. She studied English at university and trained as a journalist. She wrote articles for many of the national newspapers, including regular pieces for the Times Travel section.
Here she talks about her writing process, what inspires her and what she likes to do in her spare time.
You have published three YA thrillers. What led you to choose this genre and why do you think thrillers are so popular?
I love plots that pose questions and keep you turning the pages to find the answer, and I think that’s why thrillers are so popular. Everyone loves the pull of the unanswered question, the need to find out why something is happening, and what it means.
How do you get from a blank page to a finished novel? Which parts of the process do you enjoy most? Are there any parts that you struggle with?
All of it! No, seriously, the hardest thing about learning to write a novel was discovering actually how to go about it. I had no clue when I started and so floundered around for years. Now I have quite a well-defined process that takes me from the blank word document to finished book – I’ve even written notes and prompts for myself, so I know at each stage what I should be doing, to keep the fear at bay.
The part I hate most is the first draft. I find it really hard work to pull all this material from my head and get it down on the page. I have all sorts of tricks to make it more bearable, such as mind-mapping and character questions, but I am a big fan of the layered approach to writing ie. not giving your brain too much to do at any one time. So in one draft I’ll focus on the mechanics of plot, in another I’ll concentrate on character motivation and backstory, and so on. If I try to do all that at once my brain seizes and I’m blocked.
The bit I love most is the final stages, when I’m focusing purely on style, on the words and how they hang together. I love tinkering with sentences, finding fresh ways to say things.
Which other authors and books have most inspired you in your own writing?
Oh goodness, so many. In terms of thrillers, I love Gillian Flynn, and writers at the more literary end of the spectrum, such as Harriet Lane, Sabine Durrant, and Lottie Moggach.
In YA, I really loved We Were Liars by E Lockhart – I thought that was brilliant and it really encouraged me to up my game in terms of writing style.
Do you take inspiration from other places?
The Sweden settings in Better Left Buried originated from a piece I did for one of the nationals when my kids were young, while the town in Now You See Me is loosely based on Clevedon, where I visited my grandparents regularly as a child.
I chose Brighton for Cruel Heart Broken because it was close to where I grew up, and I lived there for seven years before moving to the West Country.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have a couple of things in the pipeline, but right now I’m working on an adult thriller. It has a male protagonist for a change, which is a challenge. The biggest problem has been not having a deadline – I’m a terrible procrastinator, especially in the early stages of a novel.
When you’re not writing, how do you like to relax?
I’m a total yarn addict. Most of all I love crocheting blankets, and recently I started designing my own with a view to selling my blanket kits on Etsy.
I also love walking – I’ve got three terriers – and gardening. I have fantasies about keeping a pristine house and being completely organised, but there never seems to be enough time in the day.
Thank you Emma, that was great, and best of luck with the crochet business!
Connect with Emma
You can find out more about Emma and her books on her website or connect with her on social media.
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