World Book Night is on Tuesday next week – 23 April. As the charity prepares to give out half a million copies of books from their list of 20 recommended titles across the UK and Ireland, we got in touch with Sophie Hannah, one of the only crime authors included on the WBN 2013 list, for an interview. Her book Little Face is a psychological thriller that revolves around a mother who is convinced her child has been taken, and replaced with another baby. Hannah has become expert at coiling up tense plot lines and letting the psychological terror spring forth. She’s seen two of her works filmed for TV, and also has a reputation as a fine poet. Here’s her encounter with Crime Fiction Lover…
How does it feel to have Little Face selected among the 20 recommended reads on the WBN list this year?
Absolutely amazing. It’s a real honour to be chosen, and I feel very lucky to be on the list with so many great books. It’s exciting to think that people might read Little Face and discover within themselves a love for crime fiction. I got hooked on mysteries at a very young age – thanks, Agatha Christie! – and I’d love to think I could help others to fall in love with my favourite kind of book.
Crime fiction is such a massive seller at the moment. It’s a little surprising that you and Alexander McCall-Smith were the only crime authors whose books appear this year. What do you make of that?
No, I’m not surprised, because a list like the World Book Night list should be as varied as possible. It can’t be all or even mainly crime, because some people – bizarre though it is to contemplate such a thing – don’t like crime novels. I think it’s right and proper that the list contains as many different types of books as possible.
You were already a successful poet – what drew you to write psychological thrillers?
I’m obsessed with the weirdness of human beings, and with plots that hook and twist and surprise – put these two addictions together and you get psychological thrillers.
You’ve now seen Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives turned into ITV crime dramas in 2011 and 2012 respectively. What was that like for you, and what did you think of the TV versions of your stories?
It was a wonderful experience in every way. I thought both TV dramas based on my books were good, but the first one was much closer to the book. The second had a completely different plot – which made watching it more suspenseful for me, of course, because I could wonder whodunnit along with everyone else.
For someone who hasn’t read any of your books before, is Little Face the best place to start?
Little Face is a perfectly okay place to start, but I actually prefer to read series books in the wrong order. This is because I am a maverick and a contrarian. No, seriously, the books are more like standalones than a series in some ways. I would recommend starting with whichever one you happen to pick up first.
What’s next for you in terms of crime fiction?
I’m currently writing my ninth psychological thriller, The Telling Error. The heroine, Nicki, is suspected of involvement in a murder after she drives past the house where the murder took place eight times in one day. The reason she passed the house so many times is that she had to drive to her children’s school and back four times that day, for perfectly legitimate reasons. The police, however, think she’s a liar, and they’re right… because although she knows nothing about who killed controversial newspaper columnist Damon Blundy, Nicki has a secret – one she’s not willing to reveal to anyone, not even to get herself off a possible murder charge…
Tune in to Crime Fiction Lover again on Tuesday 23 April when we’ll share our own list of 25 recommended crime books for World Book Night.