SWEET LITTLE LIES BLOG TOUR
TITLE: SWEET LITTLE LIES
AUTHOR: CAZ FREAR
PUBLISHER: BONNIER ZAFFRE
Welcome to my stop!! I’m thrilled to be taking part in the exciting #SweetLittleLies blog tour and would like to thank #netgalley and the publisher -Bonnier Zaffre for the ARC copy for review. As ever be sure to follow the blog tour! Using the hashtag above!
Today I am sharing my review and a fabulous author interview with CAZ where she provides some incredibly interesting answers … So enjoy.
What happens when the trust has gone?
Cat Kinsella was always a daddy’s girl. Until the summer of 1998 when she sees her father flirting with seventeen-year-old Maryanne Doyle.
When Maryanne later disappears and Cat’s father denies ever knowing her, Cat’s relationship with him is changed forever.
Eighteen years later, Cat is now a Detective Constable with the Met. Called to the scene of a murder in Islington, she discovers a woman’s body: Alice Lapaine has been found strangled, not far from the pub that Cat’s father runs.
When evidence links Alice to the still missing Maryanne, all Cat’s fears about her father resurface. Could he really be a killer? Determined to confront the past and find out what really happened to Maryanne all those years ago, Cat begins to dig into the case. But the problem with looking into the past is that sometimes you might not like what you find.
For fans of Erin Kelly and Belinda Bauer, Sweet Little Lies is a suspenseful page-turner from a talented new voice.
This is an incredible debutfrom an obviously talented new author.
I found Sweet Little Lies to be packed full of twists and turns and suspense throughout. It is eloquently written and pacy enough to hold my attention throughout. Caz’s writing ability is obvious but what really got my attention was her ability to build well rounded, believable characters. Cat was a brilliant protagonist a very real character-flawed ( human) and interesting. Carrying plenty of emotional baggage from her less than perfect childhood and because we see how it affects her as an adult, she made for a very engaging character.
As we watch her investigate the murder of Alice it becomes more and more obvious that threads bind the disappearance of Maryanne in 1998 to the present day murder here it picks up a pace and we see the past start to unravel once again raising questions about her fathers involvement.
I loved the slow reveal element, hoovered up the crumbs, clues and titbits dropped by the novelist and thoughthhe plot line was right and well executed. The dual narrative really added to the drip feed of information and it’s this that keeps you on the edge of your seat through the book . The timeline jumps between 1989 and the present day. This dual narative not only eked out the mystery but also helped relate the two events together and see how they linked. CAZ successfully held the intrigue and mystery and so this novel made for a really compelling read.
An exciting storyline, a well thought out premise and a brilliantly executed debut that has without a doubt put Caz on my radar now.
If you enjoy who dun its with strong, intriguing characters and a strong police element then you will love this book. I would highly recommend as a great read and can’t wait to see what CAZ has lined up for us next.
Now I am thrilled to welcome Cat to IIDR as she has been kind enough to answers some questions today about herself, her writing career and with some tips for budding authors!
Hi Cat welcome! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself in your own words?
I’d be delighted! I’m Caz, and this year I won the Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller competition with my debut novel Sweet Little Lies. I grew up in Coventry, moved to London on the first day of the Millennium with the intention of staying for a year, and then finally moved back to Coventry thirteen years later! I’m a crime fiction obsessive, although I’m always aiming to broaden out my reading tastes, and my other obsessions are Arsenal, candles and Italian food.
How would you describe your writing style and was it easy to find your ‘ voice’ when writing?
Cat’s voice came to me very easily and it’s fair to say I heard her a long time before I saw her (even now her image is a little blurry but her voice is clear as a bell!) Her eight-year-old voice took a bit more work as I wanted to avoid making her a ‘cutesy’ child narrator but I also didn’t want her to appear wise beyond her years (a bugbear of mine although I totally appreciate it’s a tricky thing to avoid).
In terms of how I’d describe my writing style, that’s a tricky one! As I write in the first person, my style is naturally quite free-flowing and conversational, but without going too far down the endless-stream-of-consciousness route, I hope! My own personal preference (with first person narrators) is for the prose to feel consistent with the dialogue – there’s nothing more frustrating than a character who speaks in a very colloquial way (through dialogue) but who then suddenly goes incredibly formal and verbose when they’re describing the world around them or how they feel. I really tried to stay in Cat’s head/voice the whole time, rather than becoming too authory (and no, I don’t think that’s a word either!)
Can you name three of your favourite reads and what it was that you loved about them or how did they inspire you?
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl gets all the glory but I absolutely love Gillian’s Flynn’s first novel about a crime journalist returning to her home-town (and hugely dysfunctional family) to report on the murder of two young girls. It’s utterly bleak and disturbing but the wry observations of the main character, Camille, still manage to shine through. Camille is definitely a lot more messed up than Cat but they both have a similar predicament in that they both have a parent they definitely don’t trust.
What Was Lost – Catherine O Flynn
I adore this novel and recommend it to everyone. There’s such a down-to-earth quality to the writing that makes it truly heart-warming even though it’s a desperately sad story. It tells the story of a little girl who vanishes from a shopping centre in 1984 and the people who try to find out what happened to her years later. The child narrator (10 yr old Kate Meaney) is just fantastic – sharp, funny but also sweetly naïve – and I definitely used her as inspiration when developing Cat’s younger voice.
In The Woods – Tana French
This book is just flawless and I’m totally in awe of the way that it manages to be an example of the perfect crime novel, but on the other hand, it breaks just about every crime-fiction ‘rule.’ There’s no justice for the baddie. The central mystery remains completely unsolved. And I’m fairly sure there’s a rule against writing a novel that’s c150,000 words (or more) but somehow it just works. And it’s all to do with the sharp beauty of the writing.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories and characters?
Everywhere and everyone! People always think that particular characters must be based on someone, but most of the time your central characters are an amalgamation of people you’ve worked with/socialized with/slept with. I absolutely love writing dialogue so I’m always trying to develop a keen ear for the way people really speak. I love observing people (by this I mean, ‘earwigging on their conversations’) and just a funny turn of phrase can spark an idea for an exchange between two characters. It’s like picking out an outfit for someone, I think, “Oh Steele would TOTALLY say something like that. Now how can I work it in to the dialogue naturally…”
In terms of setting, I used two of the places that are closest to my heart – the west coast of Ireland (both my parents hail from there) and London. I actually started writing Sweet Little Lies just after I’d left London and moved back home to Coventry, and it really helped me deal with the initial homesickness I felt. Writing about London kept the connection alive.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
On my sofa, with several plump cushions at my back and a woody, musky candle burning beside me.
Just for fun-
Tea or coffee? 100% Tea!
Sweet or savory? Savoury
Cats or dogs? Mmmm, depends on the cat or dog! Probably dogs, they’re a bit more dopey, less sly…
What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?
1) Finish your first draft as quickly as possible. Don’t worry too much about editing, just get the story down and then worry about making it ‘perfect.’ It’s in the editing that the real story comes out.
2) Study your favourite books – pull them apart, break down the chapters, so you can see what makes them work. I’ve done this with several of my favourites and it’s such a helpful exercise – you start to see there is a formula even if they’re markedly different books.
3) Know what your book is about! This sounds ridiculous but if you can’t sum up what your book is about in c30 seconds, then it’s probably either too complicated or you’re still not clear. ‘The elevator pitch’ is crucial – not only does it hook readers in but it’s the thing you can always return to when you find the plot meandering and you’re thinking, ‘Where the hell am I going with this?’
What is your favourite part of writing, and is there any aspect that you struggle with?
I actually love the planning stage. I’m a big plotter and a lot of my work is done in Excel before it ever hits Word! I’m in awe of crime writers who can just start with a character or a concept and see where they go. It makes me feel like such a planning geek!
There’s no one particular area that I struggle with, but I think as with most writers, some days it’s a struggle and some days it’s a dream. Sometimes there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason but the words just won’t come, or the image just won’t land on the page the way it was in your head. On these days, you just have to push on and tell yourself that even if you’re going to write badly, you are going to write. There’s definitely an argument for taking a walk, meeting a friend, just getting away from the story for an hour or two, but ultimately I think you need to learn the discipline of just cracking on, even when you think what you’re writing is pants.
Can you describe your journey from concept to publication?
I came up with the rough idea for Sweet Little Lies a few years ago, although it’s changed a lot since then (it didn’t start life as a police procedural, Cat was simply a young woman with suspicions about her father, rather than a detective). In 2015, I finished a 6 month course with Curtis Brown Creative (which I’d thoroughly recommend) and I’d fleshed out the idea and had written chunks of the novel but it still needed a lot of work. In Spring 2016, family and friends started nudging me towards entering the Richard &Judy Search for a Bestseller competition. At first, I’ll admit, I thought, “Ah what’s the point, I won’t even get shortlisted….” but after a stern talking to by several people, I thought, “Oh, what the hell” and obviously the lure of the R&J name was huge. So I submitted my first 10,000 words by the end of May 2016 and at the end of June I got a voicemail to say I’d been shortlisted (I’d been in the shower and missed the call!) Cue lots of running around the house screaming and plenty of wine!
The shortlisted authors had until mid-December to submit their novels and it was great (though stressful!) to have that strict deadline. Then came the long wait until the end of January 2017 to find out who the winner would be – I tried to put it out of my head but it was impossible, of course. And then (drum roll) in the last week of January, I got THE call and life has been a whirlwind since. A whirlwind of edits, copy-edits, titles, books covers, interviews, you-name-it. The book was released last Thursday and it’s only been five months since I got THE call so to say it’s been a bit of a whirlwind would be an understatement!
And finally, are you working on a new project? If so can you tell us anything about it?
I’m starting to work on Book 2 and that’s probably all I can really tell you, apart from the fact that Cat, Parnell and Steele will be back again in a completely new story but the shadow of Sweet Little Lies continues to hang heavy over Cat!