Today I’m delighted to welcome Amy Bird to Me, My Books and I:
Born in Hampstead, North London, I moved all around the UK for the next 18 years, before coming back to London for university. I’ve been here ever since, only a few miles from where I was born. I’m recently completed my Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck, and I’m also an alumni of Faber Academy. As well as being a writer, I’m also a lawyer – I work 4 days a week at one of the big City firms, specialising in employment law – and a trustee of a new writing theatre. When I’m not writing or lawyering, I’ll generally be found cooking with my husband, or in a theatre somewhere, or out and about sampling the cultural delights of North London.
To find out more:
Where did the idea for Yours is Mine come from?
One of my colleagues had his bag stolen while we were on team away day. That made me think – what is the most important thing you could have stolen from you? Probably your identity. And then I thought – what if you surrendered your identity voluntarily? And who would do that? The answer was Kate, my protagonist – recently bereaved, a lonely and vulnerable ‘Navy Wife’, she sees the chance to get her spark back by agreeing to a temporary identity exchange with another woman, Anna. Crucially, Kate believes that her own identity will be safeguarded. Anna has other plans.
Who designed the cover and why did you go for that particular design?
The very clever team at Carina UK – they have an excellent designer. My editor and I wanted something which would set it firmly in the suspense genre, and I think the bold lettering, with the watchful eye in the background, and the ‘how far would you go to get your life back?’ tagline really deliver on that.
How do you decide on names for your characters?
They just come to me, really. For ‘Yours is Mine’, the character of Kate is traditional but she wants to be refreshed, so that name works for her. Anna is a sinister character, but I didn’t want to give that way in the name – although as ‘Anna’ is a palindrome, I think that says quite a lot about how careful the character is in presenting herself as one united identity, the same whichever way you read her, when in fact she is quite the opposite.
Is any part of Yours is Mine based on your own personal experiences?
There are no particular instances that I drew on. But I think to some extent everything we write is based on our own experiences – it is very difficult to access an emotion unless you’ve dealt with that on some level. Plus for the circumstances of characters, I went for ‘write what you know’, as it conveniently fitted the plot – Kate is a lawyer and a Navy wife, and so am I! Also water-skiing and acting. I like that. So there is some of that in the novel, too.
How long did it take you to write Yours is Mine?
About nine months for the first draft, with various revisions after that.
Why did you choose to write in your particular genre?
I love reading fiction with a strong psychological suspense element to it – from Rebecca to Gone Girl. Also, this particular story lent itself to that genre. The prospect of having your identity taken from you permanently – even when it started out as a voluntary exercise – is classic thriller territory.
Who are your favourite authors and do you think they have influenced your own writing in any way?
I read a broad range of authors, which I suppose is reflected in the fact that although ‘Yours is Mine’ is a psychological thriller, there is some comedy and exploration of moral questions is there, too. I grew up on a diet of Thomas Hardy, E.M. Forster, Evelyn Waugh and Dostoyevsky. Now, I love Joseph Connolly, S.J. Watson, Martin Amis and Kate Atkinson.
Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
I remember Zadie Smith saying there is a phase for each novel where everything you see or experience has to go into your book. I think there is that sense of living through the prism of your characters when you are writing. So it’s very important to take a good break – particularly when you’re writing a thriller!
If you could travel anywhere in the world to do research for a book where would it be?
I’ve heard Australia’s rather fun… But I’d also love to visit Russia – there is such an amazing literary heritage and I would love to be able to have a character tap into that.
Paperback or eBook?
It’s not an ‘either/or’ – I love great novels, whatever form they’re in. Last night I was reading on my Kindle until gone midnight; as I type, I am surrounded by piles of paperbacks.
Dogs or cats?
Cats. Sadly they make me sneeze, so I can’t own one. If you ever really ‘own’ a cat, that is.
Hot or cold?
Cold shivers down my spine when I’m reading a thriller.
Sweet or savoury?
Savoury. I may have a slight pasta addiction.
Pen or pencil?
Pen. Have enough faith in your words to make them permanent.
Any last words for your readers?
If you’ve ever had one of those days where you want to stop the world and get off, you’re not so different from Kate in ‘Yours is Mine’. Perhaps the method she uses isn’t one you’d contemplate, perhaps she’s naïve, but in all of us there’s a bit of Kate. Question is: is there any Anna in you?
Thank you so much for being here today Amy, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog. I particularly enjoyed reading about how you decided on names for your characters – Kate was a great choice by the way ;).
Now check out the book:
“How far would you go to get your life back?
Kate Dixon is miserable. So when an email arrives from psychology student Anna, offering her a no-strings-attached, three month long life-exchange, she jumps at the chance. After all: what has she got to lose?
But she doesn’t bank on how much Anna has invested in the swap. How long she’s been watching, putting her immaculate plan together as she waits to enter Kate’s life. And as more comes to light about Anna’s past, Kate finds herself in a desperate race to protect all she holds dear.
Leaving your life in someone else’s hands is a dangerous game; Kate’s about to find out just how seriously her opponent is playing.
Yours is Mine is a chilling psychological thriller perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep.”
Yours is Mine, a psychological thriller about two women who exchange identities, is available now from Carina UK, the new digital imprint of Harlequin and via Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Kobo and iBooks/iTunes.