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Quickfire author Q&A: A J McDine

A J McDine is a former journalist who took up writing as a full time career in 2019.

She's published four standalone domestic thrillers as well as nearly twenty childrens' books under the name Amanda Wills!

She talked to me about procrastination, writing on a secondhand desk, napping on the job and how her competitive instinct encouraged her to start writing.

Where do you live?

In a village just outside Faversham, a pretty market town in Kent in the UK.

How many books have you published?

Now there’s a question! It depends which author hat I’m wearing. As A J McDine I have four domestic thrillers under my belt, but I also write middle grade fiction under my married name, Amanda Wills. I have published 18 children’s books. All but one are pony adventure stories, including the popular Riverdale Pony Stories.

How long have you been writing?

All my life. English was by far my favourite subject at school, and my ambition was always to become a journalist. I worked at a local newspaper during the school holidays from the age of 16, and a month after my 18th birthday I started work as a cub reporter, training on the job. After two decades on local papers I worked as a police press officer, so I have either been writing news stories or press releases all my working life. I began writing fiction in 2012 and became a full-time author three years ago.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Like many people, I always thought I had a book in me, but I never had the confidence to actually write it. Then my husband and fellow author Adrian began writing a novel, and I thought, ‘If he can do it, so can I.’ And so I did!

Do you write full-time?

Yes, I was lucky enough to be in the position to start writing full-time three years ago. I say full-time – writing does have to fit around family and other commitments.

Who are your favourite authors?

My go-to authors, in no particular order, are: Lisa Jewell, JP Delaney, Alex Michaelides, Liane Moriarty, TM Logan, Elizabeth Day, John Marrs, Lucy Clarke.

What does your writing day look like?

I am very slow and also very good at procrastinating! When I’m writing (as opposed to planning a novel) I set myself a target to write two thousand words a day, five days a week. I rarely meet my target!

Do you plan your books in advance or discover as you go along?

I am a pantser by nature but would give my right arm to be a planner! When I embark on a new book I’m always itching to just dive in and start writing. Rarely is it a good idea. The books I have taken the time to outline first have been so much quicker to write. I am currently trying to plan my fifth domestic thriller - and it is very trying!

Where do you write?

At a second-hand desk bought for sixty quid on eBay that fits snugly into a corner of the dining room. It’s next to a window that floods the room with light every afternoon. I have been known to fold my arms on the desk and take a nap on particularly sunny afternoons.

Which has been your most successful book to date?

My third thriller, No One I Knew. It’s about a missing toddler and it just seemed to resonate with readers. The feedback has been amazing.

Where do your ideas come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. Overheard conversations; people watching; television programmes and films; news stories or books I have read. Daydreaming is great for story ideas, and I love to daydream. For instance, I had the idea for my fifth thriller the other day while I was sitting on the bus just staring aimlessly out of the window.

If readers are new to your work – which book of yours do you recommend starting with?

Probably No One I Knew. A child going missing is every parent’s worst nightmare. Far better to experience the tension and emotion vicariously through the pages of a book!

What are you currently working on?

My fifth domestic thriller, the name of which is yet to be revealed. I am in the planning stage. I have a cast of characters and a loose plot. Now I am trying to nail down the details into a roadmap I can follow once I finally start writing.

Tell us about your latest release.

The Promise You Made, which came out last November. Rose has the shock of her life when her goddaughter, Eloise, turns up on her doorstep one night with her boyfriend’s body in the boot of her car…

When She Finds You by AJ McDine is available to download for FREE on Amazon between May 19 and May 23:

AJ McDine worked as a journalist and police press officer before becoming a full-time author in 2019. Endlessly fascinated by people and their fears and foibles, she loves to discover what makes them tick. She writes dark, domestic thrillers about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. When she’s not writing, playing tennis or attempting to run a 5k, she can usually be found people-watching in her favourite café.

Find out more at


AJ McDine was talking to AJ Wills, the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers as well as her husband! He was a journalist for more than twenty years and has been writing full-time since March 2021.

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