Today I am delighted to be sharing a guest post written by author of ‘The Liar’s Girl’, Catherine Ryan Howard. Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, and I hope you all enjoy reading the post. Before you get stuck in, here is a little bit more information about the book, as well as the all important ‘buy’ link:
Her first love confessed to five murders. But the truth was so much worse.
Dublin’s notorious Canal Killer, Will Hurley, is ten years into his life sentence when the body of a young woman is fished out of the Grand Canal. Though detectives suspect they are dealing with a copycat, they turn to Will for help. He claims he has the information the police need, but will only give it to one person – the girl he was dating when he committed his horrific crimes.
Alison Smith has spent the last decade abroad, putting her shattered life in Ireland far behind her. But when she gets a request from Dublin imploring her to help prevent another senseless murder, she is pulled back to face the past – and the man – she’s worked so hard to forget.
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
The question ‘where do you get your ideas?’ is a running joke among writers, partly because we’re asked it all the time, and partly because it takes so long to write a book and things change so much during the process that it can be hard to remember what exactly the original idea was. Its origins may be even trickier to pin down, because for many writers idea-generating is like looking for shapes in the fog: sometimes something emerges, and you’ve no idea how or why, but your deadline is in six months’ time so you don’t ask any questions and just go with it. (This analogy may have broken down somewhat… ANYWAY.) I, however, relish being asked this question – because I know the answer. I’ve written three books, the second of which, The Liar’s Girl, has just been published in paperback, and the idea for all three have come from the same place: real life.
In July 2013, I read an article in GQ magazine called ‘The Serial Killer Has Second Thoughts’ by Chris Heath. Above the article itself was a little introduction:
‘In a remote psychiatric hospital in Sweden, there is a man known as Thomas Quick who has been convicted of unspeakable crimes. Over the course of multiple trials, he would tell his brutal stories—of stabbings, stranglings, rape, incest, cannibalism—to almost anyone who would listen. Then … he went silent for nearly a decade. In the last few years, though, he has been thinking about all he has said and done, and now he has something new to confess: He left out the worst part of all.’
I immediately thought: if I was browsing for a book in a bookshop and I picked up one with that blurb on the back, I would RUN to the cash register with it – because I would have to know what the ‘worst part of all’ could possibly be, considering what this man had already admitted to.
Flash-forward now to April 2015. I’ve written a novel about a serial killer on a cruise ship (Distress Signals, more on that in a minute) and got a 2-bookdeal with Corvus Books. I meet my editor for the first time over lunch and everything’s going great until she says, ‘What about Book 2?’ I mumble something vague about a half-baked idea of mine,but she doesn’t look too impressed and I start to panic slightly. Then I remember: Thomas Quick. I tell her about the article, about the introductory paragraph. I say I want to write a book where that is the blurb – and she says, ‘Wow, I just got chills.’
(Me too, especially when I got out onto the street afterwards and realised that the blurb was ALL I had, that I’d no idea what the plot of the book was, or who would be in it, etc. etc. so mine were different chills, of the panicky kind. But that’s another story…)
The idea for Distress Signals had, four years earlier, also come from an article – this one being ‘Lost At Sea’ by Jon Ronson, about cruise ship disappearances. It mentioned an organisation called International Cruise Victims. That stopped me in my tracks because I wondered what on earth was happening on cruise ships – happy, relaxing places, I would’ve thought – that was creating victims and creating so many of them that this organisation needed to exist. I started Googling…And an idea began to form. A cruise ship is the perfect place to get away with murder.
I’m currently working on Rewind, my third novel which will be out next year, and the idea for that came from an image on PostSecret.com. PostSecret is best described as an art project; people write their secrets on a postcard, anonymously, and mail them in. A few years ago I saw a PostSecret that was an image of a hotel room, on which someone had written, ‘I trade hidden sex-cam footage with other Air B&B hosts.’ A thought struck me: what if you were doing that, not because you were a terrible person but because you were desperate, maybe financially or becauseyou were being blackmailed, and one night you captured a murder on tape? What would you do? What could you do, without getting yourself in trouble?
The actual plot of The Liar’s Girl bears no real resemblance to Thomas Quick. It’s the story of Alison Smith who, ten years ago, was a freshman in college in Dublin and in the throes of first love. But her boyfriend, Will Hurley, subsequently confessed to being the Canal Killer who’d drowned five girls in the waters of the Grand Canal. Now, there’s been a copycat murder and, out of desperation, the Gardaí go to visit Will in prison. He says he has information that can help them but will only give it to one person – Alison, who reluctantly returns to Dublin to face the man she’s spend a decade trying to forget. And that’s when she learns that, until now, Will has left out the worst part of it all…
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Link to The Serial Killer Has Second Thoughts:
Link to Lost at Sea: