Interview: Camilla Way

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camillaway875Watching Edie, the third crime novel by Camilla Way, is being billed by publishers HarperCollins as “the most unsettling psychological thriller you’ll read this year”. The pre-publicity for Watching Edie was pretty unusual too, with reviewers receiving cut up photos of themselves in the mail, as well as stress balls, candles and Horlicks to relieve the tension while reading the book. We caught up with the London-based author, who came to crime fiction via the world of glossy style magazines…

What made you turn to crime fiction after working on glossy magazines? It’s quite a contrast!
Yes, I was associate editor on a teenage girls’ magazine called Bliss when I wrote my first thriller, The Dead of Summer. So it was quite a change to work on something so pink and frilly during the day then put my crime thriller cap on at weekends. I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology of crime, especially cases where the perpetrator is outwardly quite normal – I liked the idea of looking at a horrendous crime (in the case of The Dead of Summer, a child that kills) and work backwards to explore how anyone could possibly do such a thing – what would lead them to commit such an atrocity. I don’t think I’d be very good at straight fiction; I think I might get bored and want to kill someone off! I don’t have a romantic bone in my body so chick lit’s out, too. My kids are always asking when I’m going to write a children’s book though, so you never know…

watchingedie300Where did you find the inspiration to write Watching Edie?
The inspiration came from a news story about a horrific case of teenage bullying that had really dreadful consequences. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of whether we can escape our past, whether we can redeem ourselves for past sins, and whether we change so much as adults. Are we really the same person we once were? I love writing about teenagers because I think it’s a time in our lives when almost anything can happen, we are on the brink of finding out who we are, we have the freedom to get into so many different experiences and situations at that age (unlike the predictability of our adult lives), it’s easy to take a wrong turn, make bad choices, but what if the outcome is so heinous that it defines the person you are forever more?

Are you a crime fiction lover? Who are your crime writing heroes?
Yes, I love crime fiction, but definitely psychological suspense rather than police procedural. I can understand why people love that insight into forensics and detective work and so on, but I don’t think it’s as interesting as reading about the psychology behind a crime. I love anything by Patricia Highsmith and Barbara Vine. I really like literary novels with thriller elements, such as Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal, Patrick Hamilton’s Hangover Square and Maggie O’Farrell’s The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.

What’s your writing routine? Are you a planner or a seat of the pants plotter?
A bit of both. I need to have a general idea of the beginning middle and end, and I often have certain scenes in my head before I even begin. For instance, I had the idea for the roof top scene between Heather and Edie long before I had any real clue what the book was going to be about! I always know the themes I want to explore, the questions I want to ask, but I tend to plot as I go along, and often go in a totally different direction to the one I’d planned. In The Dead of Summer, I changed my mind as to who the murderer would be half-way through, which suddenly made it a much better book.

What’s next for you?
Another psychological thriller, this time about the dark secrets that can lurk behind even the most perfect-seeming families – and how past sins can cast very long shadows. It’s about 29-year-old Clara whose boyfriend goes missing one night, and her search to uncover the truth of what happened to him. There are a LOT of twists along the way!

Watching Edie is published on July 28. Watch for our review.

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