Friday, October 19, 2018

Camilla Way Author Interview

Photo Content from Camilla Way

Camilla Way was born in Greenwich, south-east London, and studied Modern English and French Literature at the University of Glamorgan. Her father was the poet and author Peter Way. Formerly Associate Editor of the teenage girls' magazine Bliss, she is currently an editor and writer on the men's style magazine Arena. Having lived in Cardiff, Bristol, Bath and Clerkenwell, she now lives in south-east London.


Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Greenwich in south-east London but as an adult lived in Wales (for university) then Bristol and Bath (where I worked for a time for a magazine publisher). I moved back to London in my late twenties and I’ve stayed here ever since. I live in an area called Brockley in south-east London, which is a lovely part of the world; lots of green space, a vibrant creative community full of writers, artists, musicians and actors, and only ten minutes or so from central London by train. I love it.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
I’d like to begin this by saying I really am no expert – I’m still trying to work it out myself, but…

Write! Just write. Sounds obvious but you need to get those words on a page before you can do the most important bit of writing, which is rewriting, I think. To begin with, write as though no one’s going to read your words, write for yourself, play around with characters, styles, ideas, allow yourself to write a load of crap (it doesn’t matter, no one’s going to read it!). Out of those many pages of crap, there’ll be a spark of something usable. Focus in on that, whittle away the dead wood, ask yourself what makes that spark interesting/exciting and build on it.

You don’t have to be published to have a life in writing. If you write creatively, in your spare time, then you’re a writer. If you’re writing your first or fifteenth novel you’re always learning. Be persistent. I wrote my first book while working very long hours on a magazine, chipping away at it during the evenings and weekends. There were, and always will be, plenty of times when I tore my hair out in frustration, I’m not the most patient person but I’ve found that if you just keep on keeping on, you can eventually make a book work.

Also: read. Read and read and read. Internalize the rhythm of good prose, authentic dialogue, believable characters and so on until you begin to get the hang of it and do it instinctively.

Your new book is THE LIES WE TOLD, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it
The Lies We Told is about a young woman, Clara, whose boyfriend Luke vanishes one day in 2017. We follow Clara’s journey as she tries to find out what happened to him, and how his disappearance is linked to that of his long-lost sister Emily, who also vanished twenty years before. Alongside Clara’s story is Beth’s, who, in the 1980s, is raising a daughter who she increasingly suspects to be a sociopath. There are many twists and turns along the way until we finally find out how the two stories are connected. Pretty much everyone apart from Clara is lying about something and it becomes clear that even the most perfect-seeming family has something to hide…

What were your inspirations for the character development?
A variety of things. The character of Hannah was good fun to write; I enjoyed turning the usual dynamic of woman-as-victim on its head. To research her character I read a lot about psychopathy, personality disorders and so on which is always fascinating (to me, anyway).

But like many psychological thrillers, this book’s about outwardly ordinary people who are either hiding a darker side to their nature, or a terrible secret. This type of character is far more difficult to write than an out-and-out villain, because you have to get the balance just right between making the character relatable (if not likeable) but at the same time capable of making bad decisions or behaving terribly.

The characters in all my novels are fictional, but I draw on elements from a variety of people for inspiration, either someone I’ve known in real life or who I’ve read about in the news. I once based the physical attributes of one character on a girl I sat opposite on the subway. I’m also a reality TV addict and occasionally base a character’s appearance, vocal ticks or mannerisms (for example) on someone I once saw on ‘First Dates.’

What was your unforgettable moment while writing THE LIES WE TOLD?
There are always two pretty memorable moments when writing a book: typing the words ‘Chapter one’ and, a long time later, ‘The end’! Faced with that first blank page (knowing that there are a few hundred more to follow) can be pretty terrifying, especially when you have a tight deadline looming. But it’s also exciting and exhilarating to just dive in, knowing that only you can write the book you have in mind. With The Lies We Told I wanted to kick off with a really grabby first line, and eventually settled on, ‘At first I mistook the severed head for something else,’ because I wanted to put the reader right in the middle of poor Beth’s predicament.

Writing the words ‘The end’ is also momentous. The Lies We Told is a pretty complex book in the sense that there are a large cast of characters, multiple interweaving threads, lots of red herrings and quite a few twists. You also have your agent’s suggestions and editor’s comments to work through, so by the time you get to the end it can feel as though you’ve just finished a mental triathlon. The sense of satisfaction and relief is epic.

What part of Clara did you enjoy writing the most?
Clara is possibly the one person in the book who doesn’t have a shady side. I wanted to write someone whose shoes the reader could imagine being in, discovering each secret and lie alongside her, hopefully making them feel part of the book as it unfolds. She also needed to be quite a stark contrast to Hannah. So the most challenging (and enjoyable) aspect of writing her was making her bravery and actions believable – she had to have enough chutzpah to go digging the way she does, but it was also important to show her as someone very ordinary, who makes the same decisions and mistakes we probably all would.

What book would you recommend for others to read?
I love anything by Patricia Highsmith and Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell’s alias), both masters of psychological suspense. My all-time favorite thriller though is Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton. Set between the two world wars in a very seedy corner of London, Hamilton’s depiction of place is incredible and his writing is so lyrical and evocative. It’s a rather odd book, and definitely not to everyone’s taste, but I love it.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m currently working on my next psychological thriller. This one’s about a woman named Vivienne, who as an eight-year-old was the only other person in the house when her sixteen-year-old, and heavily pregnant, sister Ruby was murdered. The evidence Viv gave at the time ensured that Jack, Ruby’s abusive boyfriend and father of her unborn child, was convicted. But now he’s out of prison, still maintaining his innocence, and wanting revenge. When Jack kidnaps her daughter Mo, Vivienne has forty-eight hours to find out who really killed her sister if she ever wants to see her daughter again. Added to that, the only person who could have lead Mo to Jack, must be someone who knows Vivienne and her daughter well – so who can she trust?

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Books have always played an important part in my life. I was quite a shy kid, so they were a kind of refuge back then, and even now it’s hard to find me without a book to hand. Reading brings me so much pleasure and it means a lot to me that I’ve written books others might enjoy too. The thought of strangers on the other side of the world being entertained by my stories is very rewarding.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Great question! I think I’d like to introduce Monica, Edie’s friend and neighbor in Watching Edie, to Vivienne, the main protagonist of my work in progress. Monica is level-headed, straight-talking and brave and I think Vivienne could do with a friend like her to help her on her quest to find out the truth. Monica’s also pretty shrewd, so hopefully she’d be able to spot who in Vivienne’s life isn’t quite who they pretend to be!

Favorite things to do alone?
I have eight-year-old twin boys who are, obviously, wonderful and I love them to pieces… However, they are also completely insane. Their energy and noise is truly breathtaking. So, when they are at school and I am at my desk writing, the novelty of eating chocolate (without having to share it) and hearing myself think is AMAZING. So basically, at the moment, my favorite thing to do alone is eat chocolate and breathe.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I think I’d change how little faith I had in myself when I was younger. I look back at myself in my teens and twenties and wish I’d had a bit more self-belief. I kind of drifted aimlessly for a long time. When I first had a go at writing a novel, at twenty-eight, I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my life, what would really make me happy – and that was totally mind-blowing. I still had no clue I’d be published one day – that barely seemed feasible for an idiot like me ­– but just finding something I didn’t completely suck at gave me a self-confidence I’d never had before. So, yep, I’d go back and change my lack of self-esteem because perhaps then I might not have made some of the bad decisions I did make back then!

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
I get terrible insomnia and the only way I’ve been able to stop the constant jumble of thoughts running through my head at night is by listening to audible books. I love them; I choose something fun but undemanding like a Liane Moriarty novel, put the sleep timer on and for the first time in years I actually drift off quite easily. Life changing!

Where can readers find you?
I love to hear from readers via Twitter (@CamillaLWay).

1. I read the news. I’ve never directly taken a story from real life events, but a news story can sometimes inspire my books. I try to think of the ‘why’ behind headlines. For Watching Edie I read a story in the British press about a horrendous case of teenage bullying, where one girl betrayed her ‘friend’ in perhaps the worst way possible. The consequences were tragic and the story really haunted me. I thought about what could motivate a person to behave the way this particular girl did, and the answer I came up with sparked the idea for what would become Watching Edie.

2. I write a short story or poem. Sometimes writing a novel can become a little overwhelming, and nothing seems to flow. When I find myself really stuck I take a break and have a go at writing a poem or a short story instead. It somehow helps to kick-start the creative cogs again – and occasionally I find that a character or scene from a story can be inserted into the novel somewhere too.

3. My friends. Psychological thrillers are all about human relationships, and how particular dynamics can fuel dysfunctional or even criminal behavior. Whilst none of my friends are criminals (as far as I know!), the conversations we have often center around the relationships we have with others – our partners, family or friends for example – and can sometimes spark an idea for a plot point. For example, a friend who mentions tensions between herself and her mother will make me wonder what’s really behind the acrimony – jealousy? Loneliness? Fear? These relationship dynamics (albeit a more dramatic, amplified version) often inform my writing, as they’re something that most people can relate to.

4. I give myself a change of scene. Writing is a solitary pastime which often involves sitting alone in a silent room for hours. Though that’s clearly necessary in order to get the words down it’s just as important to immerse yourself in real life, otherwise you’ll have nothing to write about. Location and setting is important in my novels, so I walk a lot through my city, drinking in the landscape. I take public transport and people watch – I’ve based more than one character’s physical appearance on someone I’ve sat opposite on the Tube. I listen to people’s conversations – the rhythms of their speech, their vocal mannerisms – to ensure my dialogue rings true. I walk in the local graveyard to steal interesting surnames from graves for my characters. But mainly I just observe and daydream.

5. I try to think about what my novel is actually about in a broader sense. I think about the themes I want my book to discuss – guilt, regret, memory and culpability are usually ones I come back to again and again. Once I’ve got that overarching theme nailed down I then try to build my story around it.

6. I move. I have heard other writers say this too, and I have no idea why it’s the case, but for some reason the physical act of movement has some sort of magical effect on the creative part of the brain. I’ve lost count of the times a scene has suddenly appeared to me while riding the subway or driving my car. Or a plot hole I’ve been struggling with has been resolved by going for a run.

7. I ‘free-style’. Every now and then I start writing the moment I wake up in the morning, still half asleep, and give myself permission to write whatever comes into my head. I don’t try to write anything coherent, it’s usually just stream-of-consciousness, but out of those pages of waffle I can sometimes find a kernel of something useful. I haven’t read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, but apparently this is a technique she advises, and I’ve heard other writers say it works for them too.

8. I immerse myself in different kinds of art. I go to the theatre or to a gallery, or I listen to some music or watch a film. Switching off from my own work-in-progress and enjoying someone else’s creation is a good way to get my own creative juices flowing.

9. I give myself permission to not write – at least for a while. It can pay to have a vacation from writing, even if it’s just for a day or two. It’s surprising what can germinate subconsciously when you’ve allowed yourself not to think about your book for a while. Sometimes the best ideas arrive when you least expect them.

10. I read poetry. This is actually the best way I’ve found to inject life into my writing if its become a little stilted and wooden. Something about reading poetry loosens up my own prose, and makes it a little more lyrical than it perhaps was before. My favorite poets are T.S. Eliot, Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy.

The highly acclaimed author of "Watching Edie" returns with a new novel of dark psychological suspense that explores how those closest to us have the most to hide...

When Clara's boyfriend, Luke, disappears, everyone believes that he's left her, but Clara thinks she knows the truth. Recent evidence suggests that Luke had a stalker, and Clara worries that he's been kidnapped. Then Luke's older sister, Emma, who vanished twenty years ago, suddenly reappears.

Emma wants to help Clara with her search for Luke, but she refuses to talk about what happened--even though it nearly destroyed her family when she vanished. And the deeper Clara digs into Luke's mysterious disappearance, the more convinced she is that the two incidents are connected.


“[A] twisty psychological thriller….Think you have the plot figured out? Think again. There are no easy answers in Way’s dark, compelling story. Grade: A” —The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“[A] tale of twisted narratives fueled by obsession…[a] tense psychological thriller.” —Washington Times

“Camilla Way, author of the 2016 thriller, Watching Edie, delves once again into the realm of the bad seed thriller with The Lies We Told. Way is a master of both the unreliable narrator and disturbing plots.” —Palm Beach Post

“This creepy stalker thriller about secrets coming home to roost from Way highlights a queasy theme for the baby boomer set: how little control parents have over their children….powerful.” —Publishers Weekly

“Tense, unsettling, and keeps you guessing till the very end. We Need to Talk About Kevin meets Other People’s Children.“ —Cara Hunter, author of Close to Home

“Combining all the classic ingredients of a rip-roaring psych thriller–a creepy We Need to Talk about Kevin-esque child, an unexplained disappearance, a dysfunctional family–The Lies We Told adds pace and suspense in a way that’s refreshing for even the most jaded of readers….If you want to be kept awake at night then The Lies We Told is your insomnia buddy.” —Stylist

“Deftly plotted with lovely, satisfying twists.” —Emerald Street

“You’ll be kept guessing with this compelling plot.” —Prima

“A top class psychological thriller, smartly crafted and oozing tension.” —Sunday Mirror

You can purchase The Lies We Told at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CAMILLA WAY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Lies We Told by Camilla Way. 


  1. I was finishing decorating my room so I could have the windows open all day today to get rid of the paint smell.

  2. I didn't make it.past 11o'clock last year,.so I was sleeping 😴

  3. Finishing my book. I was reading The Cult on Fog Island and I had to finish it! :)

  4. "What were you doing at midnight last night?" Looking at news sites or watching Michael Palin visit North Korea.

  5. I was actually sleeping at midnight. I enjoyed the author interview.

  6. I was fast asleep at midnight last night.

  7. I was baking and doing hings online.