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Fast Five with author MJ Arlidge

I feel so fortunate lately, another one of my all time favourite crime authors is joining me for the latest author interviews’ on the blog!

Firstly, Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions in Booked up girl’s β€œFast Five” interview series! Matt, could you start off by telling us a bit about yourself … 

My pleasure. So I’m a TV producer turned novelist, author of eight Helen Grace books and one standalone! I write full time now, dividingmy time between novels and screenwriting. I’m a London boy by birth, but am now living in Hertfordshire. When I’m not writing or entertaining my children (!), I love playing sport, going to plays/cinema and  travelling – that is my grand passion!

1. Your new book, A Gift For Dying has just come out- I read it over one day and couldn’t put it down, I absolutely loved it! (Read my review here) In your own words, could you tell us a little bit about the book?

A serial killer is stalking the streets of Chicago. The police are stumped, in fact the only personwho seems to have any insight into where and when the killer might strike next is a wayward teenage girl, Kassie. But not for the reasons you might think. Kassie claims to be able to foresee death – just by looking at you she knows  when and how you will die. It falls to forensic psychologist Adam Brandt to work out whether she’s telling the truth or whether there is a simpler, more malign reason for her knowledge of the killer’s plans.

2. A Gift For Dying is a bit different from your usual work, What inspired you to write this story? How did this idea come to you? Did something suddenly prompt it or was it a progressive thought process?

It’s an idea that I’ve been mulling on for the best part of 15 years. I’ve always loved the idea of a kid with the gift of foresight, someone who might be able to tell you how long you have left on earth. A Gift for Dying is a really twisty serial killer thriller but at its heart there is one simple, massive question. If someone could tell you exactly when you die, would you want to know?

I absolutely love learning about inspiration for books – thank you for sharing. And I don’t know …. Maybe I would … But maybe I’d be too scared to!

3. You have built a great set of characters in this book – young Kassie who has this gift/curse to see how someone dies just by looking into their eyes, and Adam, an intrigued, dependable psychologist, who is determined to help Kassie. How did their characters come about? Did you see any of yourself in them?

No, they’re not based on me or anyone I know. I did a lot of research for this book, travelling to Chicago, meeting forensic psychologists there, getting to grips with  the US criminal justice system, but the characters gave birth to themselves. I knew I wanted a female lead, a teenager with mental health problems, an unreliable narrator perhaps, and I knew I wanted Adam Brandt to be the opposite – solid, good, logical. The clash of this mysterious teenager and a man who thinks he knows all the answers lies at the heart of the book.

As I am a total fan of your long standing series featuring Detective Helen Grace, it would be a crime not to ask you a couple of questions on the subject:

4. I absolutely love Helen – how did you come up with her character? How would you describe her?

Ha ha, how to describe Helen? She is a tough, all action, spirited and intelligent copper. She is also a complete mess – isolated, damaged, highly critical of herself. She came about because I knew I wanted Helen to be a fascinating, intense character – not your standard copper with drink and marital problems – and I think I was influenced by Stieg Larsson (and Lisbeth Salander) at the time. Hence Helen’s love of fast motorbikes and her unusual extracurricular activities.

5. You recently announced you are working on a new instalment for next year, what can you tell us about it?

I’m currently writing Helen Grace No. 9., which is entitled All Fall Down. I can’t tell you anything about it yet, except to say that it’s very much a high concept β€œwhat would you do?” thriller in the vein of Eeny Meeny.

Thank you so much for sharing today, I’ve loved getting to know you and your books more! … One last thing – Has it always been a goal of yours to write crime novels? If you weren’t a crime author, what would be your dream job?

Yes, i love reading and watching crime, so I’m very happy with my choice of career. If I wasn’t a writer, I’d love to be a chef. I love the creativity and performance of it and, of course, I love food!

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    • "π™·πšŠπšŸπšŽ 𝚒𝚘𝚞 πšŽπšŸπšŽπš› πš πš˜πš—πšπšŽπš›πšŽπš πš‘πš˜πš  πš•πš˜πš—πš πš’πš πšπšŠπš”πšŽπšœ 𝚝𝚘 πšπš’πš 𝚊 πšπš›πšŠπšŸπšŽ? πš†πš˜πš—πšπšŽπš› πš—πš˜ πš•πš˜πš—πšπšŽπš›. π™Έπš πšπšŠπš”πšŽπšœ πšŠπš— 𝚊𝚐𝚎. π™·πš˜πš πšŽπšŸπšŽπš› πš•πš˜πš—πš 𝚒𝚘𝚞 πšπš‘πš’πš—πš” πš’πš πšπšŠπš”πšŽπšœ, πšπš˜πšžπš‹πš•πšŽ πšπš‘πšŠπš."
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Another Reese’ Bookclub β˜€οΈ pick that did not disappoint! This book literally had me gripped from the first sentence (πŸ‘†πŸ»).
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I found Catherine’s writing style fantastic as she told the story through Erin, who was both wry and amusing! It’s a great story of how one, unforeseen moment can determine so much in your life ✨ The story also makes you really think too – how far will you go for the life you want and how much do you really know someone? πŸ€”
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I don’t want to say too much out of fear of spoiling it, but to summarise in 3 words: Addictive, Intense and Spine Tingling! 😬😬
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Booked up Girl rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
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πŸ’­ What’s your favourite β€˜vacation set’ book? 🏝
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#bibliophiles #booksofig #bookaddiction #bookworms #booklove #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #readersofig #books #readeverywhere #readingspot #summerreads #newreleases #booknerdigan #readersgonnaread #cozyvibes #bookstoread #goodreadschallenge #readwithme #readathon #crimefiction #vscobooks #booklife #lovetoread #weekendvibes  #reesesbookclub #holidayreads #thrillerbooks #beachread #somethinginthewater
    • My weekend plans right here 😍
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✨ Happy Friday Everyone ✨
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🎟 After my somewhat stressful vacation last week, this weekend, my BIG plans involve minimal human interaction and alternating between couch and bed whilst reading as much as possible πŸ˜‚ (with some good coffee + snacks πŸͺ of course!)
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πŸ“š Book wise, I’ll be finishing Things you save in a fire (currently half way through), and then The Nickel Boys, which looks really interesting, and finally starting Park Avenue Summer! πŸ™ŒπŸ»
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πŸ’­ What are your plans this weekend? What books are you thinking of reading? πŸ€”πŸ‘‡πŸ»πŸ‘‡πŸ»
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 #booksofig #bookaddict #bookworm #booklover #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #readersofig #readeverywhere #readersofig #summerreading  #booknerd #readersgonnaread #booksbooksbooks #readwithme #readathon #booklife #ilovereading  #blogger #cozybedroom #happyplace #goodreadschallenge #readingspot #bibliophiles #bookshark #bookcoverdesign #lovetoread #bookcart #tbrpile #bookstack #thingsyousaveinafire
    • I read this as part of a buddy read with @theladyscrime at the weekend which was such fun. I absolutely LOVE buddy reads πŸ–€
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I was actually reluctant to pick this one up – mainly because there had just been SO much hype around it and there’s been a couple of super hyped booked lately that I didn’t think were all that! But … I did thoroughly enjoy this – Tense, gripping and fast-paced would be an understatement! 😬😬
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πŸ—£ Full review and buddy discussion is up on the blog now. Link in bio!
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πŸ’­ Have you read this one? What were your thoughts on the plot? Characters? πŸ‘‡πŸ»πŸ‘‡πŸ»
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#bibliophiles #booksofig #bookaddict #bookworm #booklover #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #readersofig #bookishlove #readeverywhere #currentread #readersofig #summerreading  #newreleases #booknerd #readersgonnaread #cozyvibes #booksbooksbooks #thechain #buddyread #readwithme #readathon #readcrimefiction #vscoreads #booklife #ilovereading #weekendreads #booksharks #thrillerreads #booksandcoffee
    • Welcome to the ... CART(as in family 🀣🀣). This will be a new, and regular feature on the blog introducing the newbies that arrive to my TBR cart πŸ‘€πŸ‘€
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πŸ“šWe have THREE awesome new additions (πŸ‘‰πŸ» swipe to see the gorgeous covers 🀩):
✨ Park Avenue Summer by Renée Rosen
✨ Star Crossed by Minnie Darke
✨ Things you save in a fire by Katherine Center
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I am SOOO excited by all of these and will be starting Things you save in a fire tonight πŸ–€
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πŸ’­ Have you read any of these? Are they on your TBR? πŸ‘‡πŸ»πŸ‘‡πŸ»
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 #booksofig #bookaddict #bookworm #booklover #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #readersofig #bookishlove #readeverywhere #readersofig #summerreading  #booknerd #readersgonnaread #booksbooksbooks #readwithme #readathon #booklife #ilovereading  #blogger #cozybedroom #happyplace #goodreadschallenge #readingspot #bibliophiles #bookshark #bookcoverdesign #lovetoread #bookcart #tbrpile #thingsyousavebook
    • Last night I binged through half of Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple - which I got for the cover … I mean… Just look at it!! 😍😍😍
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✨ It’s a pretty enjoyable read so far, I am loving the uniqueness to it: the story is told through a mixture of thoughts, emails/letters from multiple point of views, which is quite interesting. Also, the witty tone is right up my street and I am finding the book hilarious in parts! 🀣
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🎬 I’ve only just heard this is actually going to be a movie – coming out this week with Cate Blanchette (who I πŸ–€)… I am really excited to see the screen adaption of this and have high hopes it’s going to be REALLY good 😬😬
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πŸ’­ What do you think of screen adaptions- Is there a book to screen you have absolutely loved? πŸŽ₯ πŸ‘‡πŸ»πŸ‘‡πŸ»
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 #booksofig #bookaddict #bookworm #booklover #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #readersofig #bookishlove #readeverywhere #readersofig #summerreading  #booknerd #readersgonnaread #booksbooksbooks #readwithme #readathon #vscoreads #booklife #ilovereading #thrillers #blogger #cozybedroom #happyplace #goodreadschallenge #wheredyougobernadette #favoritecharacter #readingspot #bibliophiles #bookshark #bookcoverdesign #lovetoread
    • I’ve finally caught up on my reviews! πŸ₯³πŸ₯³ … Oh the kiddo enjoyed sitting with me for a few hours at the coffee shop over the weekend whilst I wrote them! 🀣
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πŸ†• Up on the blog today (links in bio):
β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles: Captivating, Thought-provoking & Beautiful πŸ’ž 4/5
- Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager: Page Turner, Creepy & Twisty 😬 4/5
- The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister: Magical, thought-provoking & Mesmerising ✨ 4.5/5
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πŸ’­ Have you read any of these? What did you love πŸ–€ (or hate) about them? πŸ‘‡πŸ»πŸ‘‡πŸ»
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 #booksofig #bookaddict #bookworm #booklover #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #readersofig #bookishlove #readeverywhere #readersofig #summerreading  #newreleases #booknerd #readersgonnaread #booksbooksbooks #readwithme #readathon #readcrimefiction #vscoreads #booklife #ilovereading #bookblog #agentlemaninmoscow #thescentkeeper #rileysager #thrillers #blogger #cozybedroom #happyplace #goodreadschallenge
    • I’ve managed to get through some real gems during this holiday πŸ’Ž Finishing on a real high with this one πŸ’
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✨ I’m not sure what drew me to this book, it’s not had a huge amount of hype on social media, but something about it just made me want to read it. I was not disappointed! πŸ‘ŒπŸ»
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πŸ”Ž What’s it about? EVERYTHING. It’s the coming of age story of Emmeline. A young girl living in a remote island with only her father. No other human-being surrounds them. Their cabin is lined with tiny drawers, each containing tiny vials of scents. They must not be opened, they must be protected. It’s the only life Emmeline has ever known, until one day it’s not.
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I can’t say any more without totally spoiling it. It’s like no other story. It’s magical, it’s thought- provoking, it’s sad, it’s about memories that make and define us. And it left me feeling somewhat heavy hearted. It’s a book I won’t forget for a long, long time.
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Booked up Girl rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…Β½ (full review up on the blog tomorrow when I’ve finished catching up post holiday!!)
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#thescentkeeper #bibliophile #bookish #booklover #booksofig #bookaddict #bookworm #bookbloggers #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #readersofig #readeveryday #bookishlove #readeverywhere #currentread #readersofig #readstagram #bookreviewer #summerreading  #mustread  #booknerd #cozyreading #fortheloveofbooks #whatimreading  #augustreads #readersgonnaread #vacationmode #bookishgirl #pageturner #booksaremagic
    • It’s time for another buddy read! πŸ₯³This time, I’ve paired up with @theladyscrime to read the new gripping thriller The Chain by Adrian McKinty.
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😬 I am only about 60 pages in but I am really enjoying it so far, it’s pretty intense and it’s just the kind of excitement I need for a Saturday night! (Along with the BEST πŸ•pizza from @v.i.p.veryitalianpizza )
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πŸ’­ Have any of you read it yet? Let us know your thoughts? πŸ‘‡πŸ»πŸ‘‡πŸ»
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#bibliophiles #booksofig #bookaddict #bookworm #booklover #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #readersofig #bookishlove #readeverywhere #currentread #readersofig #summerreading  #newreleases #booknerd #readersgonnaread #cozyvibes #booksbooksbooks #thechain #buddyread #readwithme #readathon #readcrimefiction #saturdaynightvibes #pizzanight #booksandpizza #vscoreads #booklife #ilovereading #weekendreads
    • To celebrate National Book Lover Day I have teamed up with My Chronicle Book Box @mychroniclebookbox a super wonderful UK based book box subscription πŸ‘€πŸ‘€ (they ship worldwide!) to offer you 10% off your first box!
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✨ Code: BOOKEDUP10 ✨
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πŸ“¦ Check out what I got in my amazing box πŸ‘†πŸ» (see stories for unwrapping!): πŸ“š 3 FANTASTIC books (all individually wrapped, including 2 signed copies!), a lovely candle, bookmark and fridge magnet 🧲. Head over to their website www.mychroniclebookbox.com and order yours!
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#nationalbookloversday #mychroniclebookbox #booksubscriptionbox #bibliophile #bookish #booklover #readingchallenge #booksofig #bookaddict #bookworm #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #readersofig #readeveryday #bookishlove #readeverywhere #currentread #readersofig #readstagram #bookreviewer #augustreads #summerreading  #mustread  #newreleases #booknerd #readersgonnaread #cozyvibes #booksbooksbooks #crimefiction #thrillerreads
    • .... And I’ll just leave you with this 😍
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πŸ’†πŸ»β€β™€οΈ This spot has been the perfect reading nook πŸ‘‰πŸ» swipe for view and a close up of that bad boy coffee πŸ˜‹
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πŸ’­ Where’s your perfect reading nook? πŸ“– πŸ‘‡πŸ»πŸ‘‡πŸ»
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#readingnook #readingspot #bookstagram #shelfie #bibliophile #bookclub #booknerd #booknerdigan #lovereading #amreading #interiordesign #cozyhome #homelibrary #literarylover #readingroom #secretlibrary  #bookish #booklover #readingchallenge #booksofig #bookaddict #bookworm #booksandcoffee #booksofinstagram #readersofig #readeveryday #bookishlove #currentread #readersofig #readstagram

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