It's probably fair to say SE Lynes has writing in her blood.
With ten books published under her name, she's been a radio producer, has an MA in creative writing, taught creative writing and has published three children's books in Italy.
She talked to me about juggling her writing life, struggling with first drafts and how panic buying during the lockdown inspired one of her most successful thrillers.
Where do you live?
Teddington - near Twickenham (London, UK)
How many books have you published?
How long have you been writing?
Since I was a kid but I threw it all away.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No, when I was a kid, the very idea would have been too much of a leap. I was a radio producer at the BBC originally. I was always a mimic at school, which made my friends laugh, and I had always written creatively, though I always threw my work away in disgust. I moved to Rome with my husband and wrote some children's books whilst there (published in Italy). When I got back to the UK, I did a writing course, then an MA, and tried to write my first novel.
Do you write full-time?
I do now, yes. I taught creative writing for ten years but quit once my books took off as it became too much to juggle.
Who are your favourite authors?
Lorrie Moore, Pat Barker, Alice Munro, Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood, Gillian Flynn, Patricia Highsmith, Daphne du Maurier. Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl made me want to write a psych thriller because it was so sharp and funny. I love many of my contemporaries' work but won't name them here for fear of missing one out and causing offence.
What does your writing day look like?
I get up early, see child #3 off to school (other two just finished Uni), walk the dog (either with friends or an audiobook), bung a wash on, put a cloth round, kick shoes under the sofa, get to desk. About four hours a day. Sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on where I am in the work. A first draft is more tiring than later drafts.
Do you set yourself a target?
No, usually it's just a case of bum on seat, trying to be a writer's block refusenik.
Do you plan your books in advance or discover as you go along?
Where do you write?
In my study. If I can't face it, I ring the changes by going wild and sitting in the living room.
Where do your ideas come from?
Offhand remarks, real events, news stories, things that trouble me on both the macro and micro scales. It isn't always obvious in the work. For example, The Housewarming is about a missing child but was inspired by people selfishly raiding the supermarkets during lockdown.
Which has been your most successful book to date?
The Housewarming...although The Baby Shower is catching up, which is lovely.
If readers are new to your work – which book of yours do you recommend starting with?
It depends on who I'm talking to. My books are characterised by how different one is from the other so I'd pick the one I think they're most likely to relate to and hope they'll go on to read more.
What are you currently working on?
My twelfth novel, as yet untitled, set in Cadaques, Spain.
Tell us about your latest release.
The Ex comes out August 26th. It's about a guy who bumps into his ex-girlfriend whom he left a year earlier just as the UK locked down and has not seen or heard from since. She is pushing a buggy with a baby boy in it and appears nervous... It's about whether or not people who split up should get back together, whether we really change, whether the problems we had the first time around can only overshadow us the second.
SE Lynes is the Amazon #1 best selling author of THE HOUSEWARMING, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT, THE PROPOSAL, THE WOMEN, THE LIES WE HIDE, CAN YOU SEE HER? HER SISTER's SECRET and THE BABY SHOWER. Her latest, THE EX, is out August 26th. A former BBC Producer, she has lived in France, Spain, Scotland and Italy and is now settled in Greater London. After completing her MA, S E Lynes taught creative writing at Richmond Adult Community College for ten years. She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing in Richmond Borough. She has also published three children's books in Italy: IL LEOPARDO LAMPO, LA COCCODRILLA INGAMBA, and the bilingual LA SCIMMIA SPIRITOSA/THE FUNNY MONKEY, all available at Amazon.it
SE Lynes was talking to AJ Wills, the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers. He was a journalist for more than twenty years and has been writing full-time since March 2021. He's married to fellow thriller writer, AJ McDine.