Today the author kindly answers a few questions for the blog......
Is the writing full time? If not, what’s the day job? Can you give us a quick biography of yourself?
I’m 47, married with two teenage children and live in Nottingham. I was born in Berkshire – the youngest of three boys – went to university in London and Cardiff, then trained as a journalist and worked on local and national newspapers before moving into a communications role at a large university. I worked there full-time (writing in my spare time) until summer 2017 – but my day job was made redundant during a restructure and I had the option of applying for a new role, or taking redundancy. I opted for the latter and have been writing full-time ever since.
What’s your typical writing schedule?
I will spend 6-8 weeks planning a story, getting the plot, characters and key moments clear in my head. Once that’s done I will dive into it and write every day, without fail, until the first draft is done. I’ll tend to write for 4-5 hours in the morning, possibly more in the afternoon if I haven’t hit my word count tally for the day: 1200 on average, 1500 on a good day, 2000 if I’m really on a roll. I keep track of my daily word count to keep the momentum going.
Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?
A few of my characters have been based on real people – Sarah Haywood’s children, Grace and Harry, have elements of my own children when they were that age (fortunately they get on much better now they’re a little older!). And elements here and there are based on my personal experience, whether it’s an anecdote, or a person’s way of speaking or a habit they have. So there are bits and pieces here and there – but mostly it’s fictional.
When you have an idea and you sit down to construct your story – do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?
I’m a plotter. I always plan and outline so I have an idea of where I’m headed. There are always deviations and detours along the way, but I like to know roughly what my destination is going to be so I can stay on track. I’m immensely jealous of authors who can just write from the seat of their pants!
Are there any subjects off limits?
I don’t think so – as long as the subject matter is handled in the right way. Fiction can help to make difficult subjects more accessible (eg. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne), incomparison to looking at the reality head-on.
I’m intending to read 29 Seconds shortly, which I believe is your second book after Lies. Was it an easier book to write than Lies?
It was easier in some ways, harder in others. Easier in that I knew I could do it, having written Lies and got a two-book deal off the back of it from Bonnier Zaffre. So I was more confident, having done it once already. And I’m learning all the time: the more I write and the more I read, the more I learn about what works well and what doesn’t. The flipside of that was the inevitable comparison with Lies, which was in the Amazon fiction top five at a time when 29 Seconds was still an unfinished first draft. It’s bound to make you wonder how your second book is going to measure up! But hopefully 29 Seconds will be even more successful.
How long from conception to completion did 29 Seconds take? Was it a smooth process or were there many bumps in the road along the way?
Just under a year – I started planning in late summer 2016, writing in October and finished it in July 2017. There were some edits from my publisher after that but it was mostly a smooth process, once I had a broad idea of where the story was going to go. Most of the ‘bumps’ came from my day job: halfway through writing 29 Seconds I found that my role was being made redundant, so I had to start looking for other jobs alongside the writing. As it happens though, writing has now become my ‘day job’, so it’s worked out okay.
Just comparing the two books on page count alone, Lies seems to weigh in at around 500 pages. 29 Seconds seems to be about 320 pages long. Was it a conscious decision to go much shorter, or were you subject to some savage editing? I’m curious at the disparity between the two, I’m not complaining I’m all for shorter books! (Actually when I read 29 Seconds it was a lot longer than advertised - 430-odd pages)
I think every story has its own length, whatever is right for the story that is being told. Whether that’s 80,000 words, 100,000 or more. While I was really happy with how Lies turned out, a few people had commented that the middle section could have been trimmed down without too much being lost. So with 29 Seconds I tried to make it as tight as possible – to keep the pace going at a good clip throughout.
Is there one of your two offspring you are more proud of? Which would you press into the hands of a new reader?
Like any parent, I love both my offspring equally… but if it was a new reader, I’d probably press 29 Seconds into their hands (don’t tell Lies though, or it will get jealous).
What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?
Seeing my published book on the shelf in Waterstones for the first time – that was a pretty amazing moment. Just holding it in your hands makes the whole long journey to publication worthwhile. You feel like walking around the shop showing it to people and saying ‘Look! I wrote this!’ (but of course you don’t because they’d probably ask you to leave).
Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?
I have one unpublished book, in a box in the cupboard, that was written before Lies but unfortunately didn’t find a publisher. I’d love to have another go with it one day! Watch this space…
What’s the current project in progress?
I’m currently working on book 3, which will come out in 2019. It’s a standalone thriller with the working title Don’t Look Down, set in the south of France where four best friends are holidaying together with their families. As the week goes on, their friendship starts to unravel amid secrets, betrayal and lies, until it becomes clear that someone in the group is prepared to kill to keep a long-buried truth from coming out…
What’s the best thing about writing?
Everything! I’ve been writing full-time for eight months now and absolutely loving it. I love the creative side – creating characters and situations and then seeing where the story takes them. I just really enjoy being able to write for a living, every day (even if my daughter describes what I do as “sitting in the spare room making stuff up”). I also love the feedback from people who’ve enjoyed my books – I’ve started going to book festivals which are a great way of meeting readers and other authors.
1* reviews ☹
The Killer You Know by SR Masters (out this summer – and it’s brilliant)
In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Defender by GX Todd
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Nomad by James Swallow
Who do you read and enjoy?
I tend to read widely across the thriller genre, with some historical/horror/police procedural thrown in. Some of my current favourite authors include Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Tana French, Bernard Cornwell, Gillian Flynn, Linwood Barclay, Stephen King and Peter Swanson.
Is there any one book you wish you had written?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Such a great thriller.
Favourite activity when not working or writing?
Watching ice hockey – we’re lucky in Nottingham to have the National Ice Centre in town, and my family are all season ticket holders with the Nottingham Panthers, so we go to a lot of matches during the season. I read a lot, and also like TV series like Mindhunter, Godless, The Affair, Black Mirror, McMafia and lots of others.
What’s the last film you watched that rocked you?
I loved Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. Powerful story, wonderful characters, brilliant acting.
TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Logan household?
Not an addict, but I’ve definitely been watching more TV since I’ve been writing full-time (when I had a regular job I was usually writing in the evenings so watched virtually no TV). My kids are teenagers now so they have their own quite specific tastes – the last thing all four of us watched together was 13 Reasons Why on Netflix.
In a couple of years’ time…
I would love to have another couple of standalone thrillers under my belt and the first book of a series on the way. But just still to be writing books that people enjoy would be enough.--------------------------
Many thanks to Tim Logan for his time and Emily Burns for connecting us.
T.M Logan links
Author Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/TMLoganAuthor/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/tmloganauthor?lang=en