Today we welcome author Lisa Hartley to Booklover Book Reviews to celebrate the release of her new novel Ask No Questions and to share a day in her writing life.
But first a little more about this novel and our review.
Ask No Questions Synopsis:
Some secrets were meant to stay hidden… Trust no-one.
After an operation goes badly wrong, undercover specialist Detective Caelan Small leaves the Metropolitan Police for good. Or so she thinks. Then the criminal responsible is seen back in the UK.
Soon Caelan is drawn back into a dangerous investigation. But when the main lead is suddenly murdered, all bets are off. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone is a suspect – even close colleagues. Someone in the Met is involved and Caelan is being told to Ask No Questions. That isn’t an option: Caelan needs answers… whatever the cost.
(Canelo, July 2017)
I was hooked from this title’s evocative opening lines.
The blood haunted her. She saw it pool beneath her feet when she walked down the street, felt it spatter her skin as she showered.
Ask No Questions is the first of Lisa Hartley’s novels I have read, but it will not be my last. Her writing style is strong and confident… the tension and suspense often palpable.
This is Book 1 of a new crime series starring Detective Caelan Small. A highly skilled undercover operative, Caelan is an enigmatic character – a closed book to many – the nature and demands of her work routinely blurring the lines between professional and personal.
Hartley gradually allows readers into her lead characters world, revealing her tough and staunchly independent persona belies the emotional individual within. This is a woman deeply scarred by her experiences and with good reason to be very mindful of which, if any, of her colleagues to trust. Caelan is also an endearingly feisty individual, not afraid to let her opinion be known, and one whose survival and success readers cannot help but barrack for. The perfect crime series lead.
And the plot, edge of your seat reading. Countless twists and turns (perhaps too many for some and requiring momentary suspension of belief on occasion, but I enjoy a crime thriller I can really sink my teeth into and get enveloped by)… a complex web of deceit stemming from myriad intentions. I also found the respect shown for (and restraint in use of) guns by Hartley’s protagonist atypical of the genre, and very refreshing.
Ask No Questions is a highly entertaining crime novel – just the right mix of mystery, action and heart. I certainly look forward to reading the next instalment in this Detective Caelan Small Series.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
Genre: Thriller, Crime-Detective, Mystery, Action-Adventure
And now, we thank Lisa for being so candid and sharing with us a typical day in her writing life. It is certainly heartening to hear how she balances family and work, and manages to fit so much into her day, including even more tea than I do!
A Day in the life of author Lisa Hartley
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about a day in my life. I must admit, when I used to dream about being a full-time author, the image I had of what my working day might be like wasn’t quite the reality. There’s much more sighing and tea drinking, for a start…
I’m lucky in that I don’t have a job outside of my writing anymore, so in theory can commit several hours a day to the book I’m working on. In real life, of course, things don’t always go to plan. I have an eleven-year-old son, and when he’s not at school, I organise my days differently so I can do most of my work once he’s in bed. He has autism, and needs more help and supervision than some other children his age. I also have two dogs, who are wonderful company when I’m working, but also need walking, and I plan time in my day to play with them outside too. They’re both young and have a lot of energy, so if I want some quiet time to work, they need exercise first!
Here’s what an average weekday looks like for me:
7.30: Get up. Put the kettle on. Feed the dogs. Get son out of bed, then provide increasingly anxious encouragement for him to get dressed before he runs out of time to have breakfast. Shower and dress while partner gives son his cereal. Make sure son has everything ready for school. Usually a last-minute panic about PE kit, a lost permission slip, or a costume he needs that he’s forgotten about until two minutes before he needs to leave. Eat breakfast. Remember cold tea.
8.30: Son and partner leave the house. Feed the cats. Put some washing on. Probably more tea.
9.00: Play with the dogs in the garden. Turn on computer (I used to work on a laptop, sitting on the settee, but I was told it would be better to work at a desk so I have one in the corner of the living room now. I was supposed to work upstairs in the spare room, but the dogs weren’t keen on that idea!) Check emails, Twitter and Facebook. Realise I’ve been staring at social media for too long and leave phone in the kitchen. Put kettle on again while I’m in there.
9.45: Hang out washing. Take tea to desk. Open current work in progress (WIP) and stare at it. Worry it’s the worst thing ever written. I’m currently working on the second Caelan Small novel, and aim to write at least 600 words each day, weekends included. It’s a small target, but it keeps things manageable, especially on days where I have other commitments such as a hospital appointment for my son or an event at his school. I can write much more on a good day – my current record is just over 7,000 words to complete a book in a day, but that was probably a one off!
10.00: Read the work I did the previous day. More worrying. Do some editing. Change a character’s name. Write.
11.00: Change the character’s name back again. Write.
1:00: More tea. Quickly scan a couple of chapters of the book I’m reading (which of course is a billion times better than the one I’m trying to write) while I eat. Quick look at Twitter. Let the dogs out again and throw the ball for them. Phone my Grandma (she’s almost 88 and is alone for a few hours during the day, so I like to check on her).
1.45: Write. Don’t read or agonise over it, just keep getting words on the page.
3.00: More tea. Let the dogs out.
3.20: Son home. Get him a drink and snack, chat about his day.
3.45: Answer emails (sometimes from readers, which I always love receiving) or admin while my son plays. I might do some research, but I often do it as I’m writing, especially with the Caelan Small books. They’re set mainly in London and I’ve never lived there, so things I’m not sure about frequently crop up. If he’s reading or playing quietly, I might have a chance to do some more writing.
5:00: Feed the dogs. Cook (usually while reading).
5:45: Partner arrives home. Family time – eat, chat.
6:30: Walk the dogs. We’re lucky to live in a lovely village with beautiful countryside all around, so there are loads of places to go.
7:30: Son goes to bed to read for an hour before sleep. Back at my desk, trying to get some more words down.
8:30: Time to relax. Reading or games – at the moment, Fallout 4 or Skyrim on the Xbox or Football Manager on the laptop (I love football and am a season ticket holder at Doncaster Rovers). I occasionally watch something with my partner on catch up TV or Netflix. I don’t watch much TV or see many films, but we’ve recently enjoyed Veep and the first series of Line of Duty. Sometimes I’ll have a long soak in the bath (with a book and another cup of tea).
10.30: Feed the cats. Let the dogs out for a last run around the garden. Bedtime.
So, now I feel like the dullest tea addict on the planet! I hope I’ve given some insight into what I get up to all day.
Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. In addition to this new series with Canelo she is also working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel. Check out Lisa’s website or connect with her on Twitter.
- Lisa’s Top 10 Crime Thriller Novels and Top Five Writing Tips
- Top Five Things to Know About Detective Caelan Small
Other reviews of Ask No Questions