I’m delighted to welcome back my dear friend, Susi (SJI) Holliday to the blog today as she publishes her second novel, Willow Walk. I was lucky to get an early read of this book and found it to be a page turning psychological thriller and certainly one to keep you on the edge of your seat! Here’s Susi to tell us a little more about it:
What can you tell us about your new book?
I’m finding it quite hard to talk about Willow Walk without resorting to spoilers, so all I’ll say is that it features a fairground, a stalker, legal highs and a cat called Cadbury.
This is the second in your Banktoun series. What inspired you to write about a small Scottish town?
Well as I come from a small Scottish town myself, it meant I really didn’t have to do a lot of research! The thing about small towns is that they are full of quirky characters and it seems like everybody has a dark secret. I love the fact that these secrets can remain buried for a long, long time – but inevitably, they always come to light.
Davie Gray, the lead police officer from your series, has become very popular with readers. Are we going to see more of him in future?
Yes, he has been a bit of a hit – which is pretty good, considering he was never really meant to exist! I put him in my first novel, Black Wood, as I needed someone for the main character, Jo, to have as an ally. As it turns out, he’s a man in high demand! He features in Willow Walk, and he is also in the third novel in the trilogy (which I am writing now), called The Damselfly. He’s not the main character in any of the books, as they are not really police procedurals – they are psychological thrillers that each work as a standalone story, linked by the location (my small Scottish town) and by characters such as Davie who just can’t seem to stay away.
Readers are always interested in how authors approach the writing process. How long did this book take to write and how do you approach the process?
This book was written in two major chunks – the first 20k words over a couple of months, then a big break while I worked on the plot, then the remaining 60k over another couple of months. Yes, that sounds fast – but I spent the big gap in between (approximately four months) planning, plotting and outlining – so when I actually sat down to write, I knew exactly what I was writing. It came out fairly clean, so the first draft didn’t need much of an edit before I sent it to my agent. This is not what’s happening with the third book though – it’s so messy, I’m wondering if I’ll be able to understand what I’ve actually written in the first draft!
What events will you be doing to promote the book this summer?
I’ll be launching the paperback in London and Edinburgh in June, and as well as that I have several library events too – to coincide with the CWA’s National Crime Reading Month. I also have the summer crime festivals (Crimefest in Bristol and Theakston’s Crime in Harrogate), then there will be various other things happening after that. It’s very exciting having a new book out – but of course there’s also that scary feeling when you finally realise that people are actually going to be reading it!
Please share your blurb with us.
When a woman is brutally attacked on a lonely country road by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s bizarre behaviour. As Gray investigates the crimes, he suspects a horrifying link between Marie and the man on the run – but how can he confront her when she’s pushing him away? As a terrified Marie is pulled back into a violent past she thought she’d escaped, she makes an irrevocable decision. And when events come to a head at a house party on Willow Walk, can Gray piece together the puzzle in time to stop the sleepy town of Banktoun being rocked by tragedy once more?
Thanks Susi! You can purchase Willow Walk here.
About the Author
S.J.I. Holliday grew up in Haddington, East Lothian. She spent many years working in her family’s newsagent and pub before going off to study microbiology and statistics at university. She has worked as a statistician in the pharmaceutical industry for over sixteen years, but it was on a six-month round-the-world-trip that she took with her husband ten years ago that she rediscovered her passion for writing. Her first novel, Black Wood was published in 2015. You can find out more at www.sjiholliday.com and on twitter & facebook @SJIHolliday.
Willow Walk is published 5th May in eBook and 10th June in paperback.