A Slow Fire Burning
PAULA HAWKINS worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. Her first thriller, The Girl on the Train, has been a global phenomenon, selling 23 million copies worldwide. Published in over forty languages, it has been a No.1 bestseller around the world and was a No.1 box office hit film starring Emily Blunt. Into the Water, her second stand-alone thriller, has also been a global No.1 bestseller, spending twenty weeks in the Sunday Times hardback fiction Top 10 bestseller list, and six weeks at No.1.
What is the best thing about seeing your book published?
It is a long, winding and often torturous route from idea to publication; there is usually a point during the writing of a novel when it seems a hopeless enterprise. So for me there is nothing quite so thrilling as spotting the book in the wild, seeing it held by a reader on the train (or plane or on a bench in the park), knowing that the words you sweated over and wept over have at last reached the page.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Quite often, they’re picked off my bookshelves… I’ll match the first name of one author with the surname of another. Occasionally – though not often – I have a very strong sense of what someone should be called, but quite often I’ll change a name halfway through writing the book, because the original no longer feels right to me.
Where is your favourite place to write?
At home, in my study. I’m not one of those people who likes to go to cafés or out to libraries. I like silence, and I like solitude! I have at times decamped to isolated cottages to write (in Northumberland, on Skye and in the Dolomites), but I think I’m most productive when I’m at home.
What does literary success look like to you?
I think most writers aspire to that hallowed sweet spot where bestseller status and critical acclaim collide. Very few achieve it, though.
What is your favourite chocolate?
Milk, occasionally adulterated by nuts. My chocolate tastes are not fancy.
What are you reading right now?
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones - an astonishingly accomplished and at times harrowing debut novel set in Barbados.
credit: Phoebe Grigor
A Slow Fire Burning
‘What is wrong with you?’
Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous.
Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace?
Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.
Look what you started.
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