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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Victoria Jenkins – 20 Questions

Debut Author Spotlight – 20 Questions
with Victoria Jenkins

The Girls in the Water : A completely gripping serial killer thriller with a shocking twist (Detectives King and Lane Book 1)

Victoria Jenkins lives with her husband in South Wales, where she writes crime fiction and teaches English. The Girls in the Water is her debut novel, the first featuring Detective Inspector Alex King and Detective Constable Chloe Lane. The second book in the series will be published in late 2017.

1)      Congratulations, Victoria, IT’S PUBLICATION DAY! Tell us in three words how you’re feeling right now:
Lucky, excited, hopeful.

2)      Describe your novel in ONE sentence:
Two female detectives hunt a killer in South Wales, with devastating consequences that hit uncomfortably close to home.

3)      How are you celebrating publication day?
Quietly. I will probably be glued to my laptop for a big chunk of the day – it’s become a third arm. The support online – both from people I know and those I’ve never met – has been incredible. I feel so lucky, and very grateful. I’ll be going out for dinner in the evening with my husband and my sister – it wouldn’t be a celebration without food involved at some point!

4)      Why/When did you decide to write your first novel?
The Girls in the Water isn’t the first book I’ve written – I’ve written several over the past decade, although most of them I’d be too embarrassed to ever have my name associated with! I’d written from a young age, so it was just a case of finding the ‘right’ thing to write. I wrote this book after the book that grabbed the interest of my agent failed to get a publishing deal – it felt like a case of ‘now or never’, so the pressure turned out to be a good thing for me. 

5)      How long was it from the first submission of your completed manuscript to agents, to this day?
The time between getting signed by an agent and getting the book deal was eleven months, but between finishing The Girls in the Water and getting the publishing deal with Bookouture was a space of about four months. While initially submitting to agents I’d read a lot of ‘Agent on Monday…book deal by Friday’ stories, but the reality for most is a lot different and I think from speaking to other authors that my experience is probably closer to the norm. It’s a waiting game, but it’s one that’s well worth playing. The best way to kill the time is to get on with writing something else. 

6)      So far, what has been the biggest surprise/shock about becoming a published author?
The editing process. Structural edits, line edits, copy edits, proofreads…it can feel never-ending at times! The final version of The Girls in the Water is very different to the first, but the editing process is there for a reason, so the time is well spent. 

7)    What are you most looking forward to as a published author?
Being able to justify the amount of time I spend in my pyjamas.

Ok, let’s get down to the writing process

8)      Which authors inspired your writing?
I love Linwood Barclay’s books. In my letters to agents, I used to write something along the lines of, ‘I’d like to be a female, British Linwood Barclay’. The stories are just so accessible; they’re the kind I start, get lost in from the first page, and then find I’ve finished within a matter of days. Not an author, but while writing The Girls in the Water I was binge-watching the BBC2 series The Fall. I think some of the darker elements of the book definitely took an influence from that.

9)      How long did it take you to write The Girls in the Water?
The first draft that was sent to my agent took about six months. She then gave me revisions before submitting to publishers, and then there were all the additional edits that came from my editor at Bookouture. In total, I think around nine months was spent on the book. 

10)   What was your first draft like? 
The very first draft was just the bare bones of the story, probably around 80,000 words – I always like to get the plot down first and then go back and add the descriptions of characters and places, as well as the details relating to police procedure.

11)   How did you find the editing process
               a - before you had an editor?
Difficult. Once I’d got my descriptions down (which quite often weren’t detailed enough)   I’d find it hard to see beyond what was there on the screen in front of me. A fresh pair of eyes is definitely needed when it comes to editing.
               b - and now you do?
Far easier. Having someone else’s input makes you able to see the things you’ve missed, or the things that just don’t make sense. Sometimes they’re glaringly obvious and I’ll think, ‘well how did I not notice that?’ but when you’ve looked at something so often and for so long, it’s almost as though you stop seeing what’s staring you in the face!

 12)    When you write do you need music, or silence?
A few years back I used to listen to music all the time while writing, always through headphones. I don’t know why that’s changed, but now I find I need total silence. I know a lot of people say they need noise and life around them, but I’d get nothing done. I am easily distracted.

13)    What is your guilty pleasure when writing? 
I keep my sweet tooth under much better control these days than I did when I was younger, but only because I tend not to buy biscuits and cake too often – if it’s in the house, it won’t be there for long. I drink a lot of tea while I’m writing, but I think this is more to do with finding something to distract myself with when things aren’t going to plan rather than the tea itself!

 14)    What is your favourite part of the writing process? And least favourite?
Favourite part? The End. Only joking. My favourite part is when I’m so immersed in something that I get lost in it. I think that’s why I’ve always written: writing means a break from the real world. I love the real world too, but like anywhere else, I don’t want to be there 24/7! My least favourite part: writer’s block. Urgh. I sometimes go for weeks without writing a single word, particularly when I’m in the early stages of a book. Getting past the 10k word mark is always a relief; I start to feel as though I may sort-of know what I’m doing at this point, rather than just making things up as I go along (which I suppose is what I’m doing anyway!)

15)    Did you need to conduct any research for your novel? How did you approach it?
Police procedure was all new to me until about eighteen months ago. I’ve been lucky that a friend’s uncle and my husband’s cousin are both police officers and they gave me help with some of the details needed for The Girls in the Water. I had to do some pretty grim research on drowning victims and the effects of water on corpses too, most of which was done on the internet.

16)    Now you have a book deal – with deadlines (!) – how has that affected your writing process?
Weirdly enough, the pressure of deadlines seems to have been a good thing for me. Knowing I’ve got a timeframe to work within (as well as now having people I have to keep happy!) has focused my mind quite a bit. There will still be days when I write nothing, but I try not to panic too much. One day I can write nothing; the next I might get down 6,000 words. The process seems to have its own rules!

17)   What do you do in your ‘spare’ time? 
I wish I had an exciting answer for this one, but I am quite boring. When I’m not working, I spend a lot of time with my family. I try to read as much and as often as possible, but this is usually done at bedtime. I’m a bit useless at relaxing; whenever I do get the chance, I tend to spend the whole time feeling guilty about not doing something else!

18)   What’s coming next?
Book 2 is written – I’m just at the stage of completing the final set of edits. I feel a huge pressure with this one, as I obviously want readers to love the characters enough to stick with them for Book 3. I hit the 10k word mark of book 3 today, so I’m past the dreaded point I mentioned earlier!

19)   Where can readers find you? 

20)   All importantly, where can readers buy your fabulous debut novel? 

Purchase The Girls in The Water  as kindle, paperback and audio via AmazonHERE

Here's the blurb: 

When she woke, she found herself in darkness. She couldn’t move. She was going to die and she had no idea why… 

When the body of Lola Evans is found in a local park on a cold winter’s morning, Detective Alex King and her new recruit Chloe Lane are called in to lead the hunt for the killer. 

Days later, a second girl goes missing. It seems the two shared a troubled history, and were members of the same support group. Who is the monster preying on these vulnerable girls? 

As the detectives start to piece together the clues, Chloe realises that she too is in danger – as she uncovers secrets about her own brother’s death which someone will kill to keep hidden. 

Alex and Chloe are soon fighting for their lives, and in a race against time to reach the next victim before it’s too late… 

Chilling and totally compelling with an utterly surprising twist, The Girls in the Water is perfect for fans of Robert Bryndza, Sarah Hilary, and Patricia Gibney.

 Huge thanks for answering my 20 questions, Victoria - enjoy publication day! Wishing you great success with The Girls in The Water.

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