I am delighted to invite author, Laura Elliot to join me for a chat. We discuss her new release, Sleep Sister, becoming a nun, and living in the loveliest place on earth. Over to you Laura:
The Fun Stuff:
What part of the world do you come from?
I live in a coastal village called Malahide, in Dublin, Ireland. Although I admit to being slightly biased, I believe it’s one of the loveliest places on earth. The Broadmeadow Estuary is only a short walk away from my house and is where I go when I’m having difficulty with my characters. By the time I return home they are well behaved and ready to obey me.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I toyed with the idea of nursing, teaching, acting, becoming a nun (I was educated in a convent where one’s vocation was a hot topic) but, secretly, and with no belief that my dream would ever be realised, I wanted to be a writer.
List three words to describe yourself.
Generous. Driven. Romantic.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
Julianne Moore – I’ve enjoyed so many of her films
What’s your favourite snack food when writing?
I try not to snack when writing. Too much reliance on comfort eating is not good for my waist line. If I do snack, it’s usually fruit with yogurt and sunflower seeds. I offset this healthy snacking by drinking far too much coffee.
What literary character is most like you?
Jo March in Little Women.
The Sensible Side:
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?
When I was very young I longed to be a writer but believed only ‘other people’ could become authors and be published. In my teens I was too busy doing teenage things to think about writing and – in my early twenties – too busy being a mother of two to have time to write. At twenty-eight I sat down one night, picked up a pen and the floodgates opened. I haven’t stopped writing since. At that time I wanted the write The Great Novel. Instead, I became pregnant again. When my daughter was born, The Great Novel was wrapped in a black sack and is lucking in some, deep drawer. Hopefully, I’ll never find it. Initially, my writing lead me to journalism and I worked for many years as a freelance journalist. As my work became more demanding – but still very enjoyable – I knew I was drifting ever further away from my dream of writing a novel. I gave up journalism and turned to fiction. My initial books were for young adults and, as my characters grew older and their behaviour became more challenging, I seemed to drift seamlessly into writing for adults.
When I’m not writing, I meet up for a meal or the theatre with friends. My two daughters and my husband are involved in music, all different genres – Americana, Rhythm and Blues, Indi pop and Barbershop. I’m their most dedicated fan – and there’s always another gig coming up. I’m a keen walker and love to read. I also give occasional readings from my own books and facilitate creative writing workshops.
What inspired you to write psychological thrillers?
I never sit down with the intension of writing a psychological thriller. But that’s how my books turn out. Even when I try to write a romance or a rom com, the narrative switches at some point and becomes darker, more threatening. I’m interested in character development, in exploring the emotions of my characters and seeing the reaction that creates –and, somehow, by the time I write The End I’ve created another story based in the psychological suspense genre.
Give us the title and genre of your latest book and a brief excerpt.
My new book is titled Sleep Sister. It’s not a thriller, more like a psychological saga spanning three decades.
Excerpt from Sleep Sister
He had resisted ringing Sara before he left for Germany, still furious with her but clear about his intentions. A clean break. This time he would see it through. She could have Havenstone. The house meant nothing to him. It was impregnated with her presence. Not with children, most definitely not with children. He had been down that road too many times to indulge the fantasy. The glossy hardwood floors, the cold marble fireplaces, a beautiful, treacherous staircase where he had fallen as a child, the scar still faintly visible on his right cheek – that was Havenstone, his inheritance. Child unfriendly. She was welcome to it. His resolve remained firm throughout Monday as he’d inspected computerised systems with Stewart. Later that evening, he’d taken Beth’s call in the hotel bar where he’d been having an after-dinner drink. Havenstone was empty, she’d said. His wife was not at home.
A young woman had sat at a white piano and played a medley of love songs. Her voice had the late-night rasp of too many cigarettes, a husky decadence at odds with her long blonde hair and fresh complexion. When the music ended, she’d eased her body into the bar stool beside him and touched his hand, asked if he would like a particular tune. A tired cliché to which he’d responded in kind, glad he didn’t have to play any new games. ‘Emma from Essen,’ she’d said, and so he remembered her name. She’d worn a low-cut glitter top and many rings on her fingers. If she was in the mood she chatted up tired businessmen and drank champagne from the minibars in their hotel rooms. She carried a packet of condoms in the back pocket of her leather trousers, a precaution she had taken since she was sixteen. ‘The same packet?’ Peter had asked, already bored with their conversation.
‘What do you think, silly man?’ She’d laughed deep in her throat. Young women like Emma confused him: so much confidence, so little charm. Yet her laughter had reminded him of Sara, as seductive as the midnight music she’d played on the white piano, and he’d been tempted to kiss her glistening lips, to sate a momentary passion that had flared when she’d moved closer, willing him to breathe in the subtle promise of her youth. Stewart had disapproved of Emma from Essen. The production manager disliked the challenge of strange cities, the edginess of new experiences, resenting the time he was forced to spend away from his family. When Peter insisted on another drink, he’d shaken his head and retreated to his bedroom. No doubt he’d expected to find Emma at the breakfast table the following morning but he made no comment when Peter came down alone. A moral victory against temptation but one that was based on lethargy rather than virtue. At least Peter could be thankful for small mercies. He was faithful to his wife in death, if not in life.
Where did the inspiration for Sleep Sister come from?
A memory I’ve carried from my childhood, and other similar tragedies, inspired Sleep Sister. A young woman I knew gave birth secretly in her small bedsit. When her baby’s body was found abandoned in a nearby doorway she was traced, arrested, charged with infanticide and confined to an asylum. Years later, I was shocked and appalled when a teenage mother died with her son after she’d given birth to him secretly beside a grotto. Who were the fathers and where were they when these young, desperate mothers needed them? And what were the circumstances of their pregnancies. I’ll never know the answers but such questions created the seeds for my story. Sleep Sister is fictitious and set in an imaginary landscape – but those tragic stories allowed me to explore the corrosive nature of shame and secrecy, the corruption of innocence and the brutality of power.
When can we expect from you in the future.
I’ve just started a new novel based on the power of the media. How misinformation can create a frenzy among journalists and destroy a person’s life. I want to explore that destruction and how, later on, the person whose life has been destroyed, seeks revenge.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Buy your copy of Sleep Sister: