Today we travel to Bristol, a port in south-west England, to chat with Helen Blenkinsop (also known as AA Abbott) about how listening to music, apple cider bars, club scenes, Spotify, Foo Fighters, dreams, a hotel overlooking the Thames, a suffragette, coffee and walnut cake, and the city of Birmingham come together a part of Helen’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m AA Abbott, a British thriller writer. You’re sure to guess it isn’t my real name. That’s Helen Blenkinsop, which is not quite so gender-neutral. I live in Bristol, a port in south-west England. It’s noted for its apple cider bars and club scene: the kind of place where you can lose a lot of time. It features in my latest book, BRIGHT LIES. So does the sparky Midlands city of Birmingham, where I used to live.
In which genre do you write?
Thrillers crossing over into mystery, family drama and domestic noir.
How many published books do you have?
Eight, all fiction. My last book and first two novels are all standalones. In between, there’s a series of five thrillers about families at war in the vodka business. Think Dynasty with cocktails.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I love listening to music when I write. BRIGHT LIES is about English teenagers involved in the club scene, so I had a Spotify playlist of tracks they would play, like Alan Walker and Ariana Grande. I also listened to the soundtrack of my teens, to recapture those edgy teenage years, all hormones, uncertainty and anticipation. Finally, I got through some of the darker chapters with doom-laden rock from the Sister of the Mercy and the Foo Fighters.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
Anywhere I can put a laptop down. I can write in trains, planes and buses, and often have. Some writers need a beautiful space with peace and quiet, but once I’m absorbed in a story, I shut out everything else.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
BRIGHT LIES has its roots in a dream I had in my twenties. I could put an excellent short story together at that time, but a novel was beyond me. Decades later, I described the plot to my now grown-up son, and he encouraged me to write it. By the time I did, I’d managed seven full-length thrillers, so I guess I wrote BRIGHT LIES when I was ready to do it.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?
There’s a dramatic shoot-out at a wedding in THE REVENGE TRAIL. I knew it had to happen at a swish venue in London. To my brother’s consternation, I asked his girlfriend (a committed Londoner), “If you could get married anywhere you liked in London, money no object, where would it be?” She named a swish hotel overlooking the Thames. I persuaded the hotel’s wedding planner to show me round. She knew why I wanted to see the function rooms, and was very helpful.
What do you miss about being a kid?
I miss the people who have passed on from my life. My great-aunt was a suffragette and her little sister, my grandmother, travelled throughout Europe as a young woman. I’d love to have a cup of tea with them now. And cake. My grandmother’s coffee and walnut cake was the best in the world.
At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?
I’d have to be nuts to listen to my younger self – I had no sense whatsoever in my youth. I did meet the love of my life and stick with him, though, so I got something right!
What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?
There are so many – the mystical village of Avebury, beautiful Bath and the bustle of London. However, actions speak louder than words, and it’s the city of Birmingham to which I return again and again. Friendly and buzzy, there’s no better place to be.
Tell us about your most recent book.
BRIGHT LIES is a dark psychological thriller. Imagine ‘Big Little Lies’ meets ‘My Dark Vanessa’… Emily is only 13 when David becomes her stepfather, and she’s thrilled that the handsome artist wants to mentor her. She doesn’t know she’ll end up running for her life.
Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to be a guest on your blog! I hope you had a lovely Christmas.
It was great learning more about you and your writing style, Helen! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla
Readers’ Favorite gave BRIGHT LIES 5 stars and said: “Compelling drama that will keep you turning page after page. Overall, I would highly recommend Bright Lies to fans of well-penned and deep psychological drama.”
Where to find the book:
BRIGHT LIES is available online in ebook, paperback, large print, dyslexia-friendly print and Kindle Unlimited. https://books2read.com/u/3n88GB
The Bride’s Trail – first in a series about warring vodka makers and villains: http://mybook.to/TheBridesTrail
Connect with Helen (AA Abbott):
AA Abbott website: https://aaabbott.co.uk/
AA Abbott Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AAAbbottStories/
AA Abbott on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/AAAbbottStories/
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