Crime authors spill their guts about writing...

This week: Louise Mullins

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Louise Mullins and I'm a wife, mother, author, psychological therapist and student, training as a forensic psychologist. My first love is historical fiction and I enjoy reading crime, memoir and psychology texts

How do you pick character names? Do any have special meaning to you? 

My characters tend to just tell me their names. I don’t really have to think about them.

How do you go about plotting your book?

I get a spark of an idea in my head then write the first scene in a notebook. From there I plan the first ten chapters, but the characters lead me the rest of the way. I never have an ending in mind when I start a book.

How long does your first draft take you?

I first draft takes me around four weeks to write. The rewriting and editing can take another three or four months.

How easy/hard was it to get your first break?

Three years of honing my craft, two rejections and a lot of self-publishing success I was finally signed a contract.

What is the best writing tip you have ever been given? How has it influenced you?

Write what you know and what you’d like to read. I write books that challenge preconceptions regarding the psychology of offenders. I delve into the emotions of both the victims/survivors and the perpetrators of crime, often concentrating on the aftereffects on the family and community at large. My work in mental health and case studies of serious crimes are a huge knowledge base to draw upon.

What book do you wish you had written? 

I’ve only recently read a Steven King short story collection, but the film adaptation of Misery opened my eyes as a youth to the possibilities of the human mind, and influenced my interest in the human condition.

How much do your own life experiences appear in your writing? 

Scream Quietly and Beautiful Liar are based partly on my own experiences of domestic abuse, although the events are completely fictional. I’ve given characters jobs I’ve done, and given them problems to get through that I’ve come across in others lives. I like to write about places I’ve lived, and a lot of my stories come in film-reel form as I know the area they inhabit.

Do you ever surprise yourself with what you’ve written?

What scene in your latest book did you most enjoy writing? And why?

I find it very easy to get inside the minds of men, for some reason so writing the scenes depicting Joel’s compulsion in Beautiful Liar was exhilarating because his psychopathic personality seemed to jump from the page.

Yes. One book I struggled to write became three published novels regarding completely different themes. I guess I struggled with the original because it contained too many complex themes.

Human trafficking, drug smuggling, murder.

Describe your current work in progress in five words.

Author Louise Mullins is interviewed by thriller writer Barbara Copperthwaite

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