Annalie is the author of two YA thrillers, Captive and Into the Light. Captive follows Robyn, daughter of one of the master powerful men in the world, and what happens to her when she gets kidnapped. And Into The Light, Annalie's upcoming release (3rd May and you can follow the drama on social media under the hashtag #InYourLight), follows Lil who is desperate to find her missing sister, but when she crosses path with Alice, a young woman desperate to escape the seemingly peaceful community, Lil can't help but wonder if Alice knows what happened to her sister? And she can't help but wonder why Alice is so frightened...
I am quite excited over this post as it's a little different for me. As myself and the lovely Eve were chatting about ideas for YAShot, I mentioned an idea similar to "8 Questions in 8 Minutes", and something just clicked with us both. While the idea has changed slightly, we wanted to keep the idea as much as we can.
So, to everyone at YAShot, Annalie and Eve, thank you so much for all your help, ideas and just being your wonderful selves! I know how busy you all are at the moment so you all having times to deal with me is awesome so thank you.
Now, before I hand you all over to my questions and Annalie's answers, just gonna give you all the links to go if you want to find out more details about the lovely author and this lovely event! You can check out Annalie's website at ajgrainger.com & her twitter is @_AJGrainger, and if you want to check out YAShot, their website is yashot.com and their twitter is @yashortmediateam.
Now, onto past me and Annalie.
What would be your elevator pitch for Captive and your upcoming novel, Into The Light?
Oooh, this is difficult. Ok, for Captive: the teenage daughter of the British prime minister is kidnapped. And In Your Light is about a missing sister and a religious cult.
Both Captive and Into the Light are thriller novels. How do you keep the tension going through the entire novel?
I have to confess that I didn’t plot either of these books, which is embarrassing to admit as I’m also an editor! I just kind of went with an instinctive feeling for beats - moments of tension juxtaposed with moments of calm. But that means a LOT of rewriting. For my third book, I’m trying to be a lot more disciplined about knowing the ending before I start writing. Bizarrely, when I look at the final versions of both Captive and In Your Light, I can see they do fit within the four-act mystery structure, even though I wasn’t consciously conforming to it.
Both stories deal with the issue of kidnapping and disappearances. Why are these issues so important to you?
To be honest, I didn’t really realize the similarities until afterwards! I had been volunteering at a charity that helps reunite those missing with their families when I was beginning to write In Your Light. It is such a heartbreaking issue. Over 250,000 people go missing each year in the UK, and many of those are never found. I just felt that by writing about the subject, I could draw some attention to it and perhaps raise awareness of the complexities involved. The characters in the book are totally fictional, though, of course.
What book was the hardest for you to write and why?
Both were challenging in different ways. With Captive, it was my first novel, so while doubting whether I could do it, I also had no comparison and no expectations. I just wrote and went with it. In Your Light was written under contract, which, while wonderful of course, but was also more pressured. I also felt the added weight of wanting to do justice to the issue of missing in the book, because it affects so many families and I wanted to handle it sensitively. Oh, and I had a baby halfway through writing the second draft - that definitely made writing more challenging!
You are an editor at another publishing house, Walker Books. Does this help you as a writer?
I think so. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who love talking about books and the craft of writing. I also have lots of editors who are happy to read my work and give me feedback - a definite bonus!
How much research did you do for both books?
Lots. Captive was all about location and the inner workings of government. I was really worried about my Google searches at one point, because i’d be searching “treating bullet shot wounds” and “security at Downing Street” in the same evening! I really wanted to be as faithful as possible to what it might be like to grow up in Downing Street, so I was delighted when an MP, who had read my book, said he thought the novel was very realistic in terms of setting and culture.
With In Your Light, I did even more research, especially into what happens when someone goes missing and why they might choose to disappear. I spoke to lots of people at various charities, and, as I mentioned above, I volunteered on a helpline. Everyone’s experience of going missing is different and everything in the book is entirely fictional, but I wanted to be as sensitive and realistic as possible. I also did lots of research into cults and closed communities, particularly into the reasons why someone might not only choose to join but to stay.
What has your reaction been to people reading Captive and Into the Light?
To want to hide in a cupboard! Ha ha! I think like most writers I find the idea of people reading my work terrifying. Ironic, I realize.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers and bloggers?
Write the book you want to write, and don’t worry if that takes you years. Listen to other people but trust your gut. Don’t be in a rush just to finish something, but enjoy the process, and then you will end up with something you’re happy with, and that’s the most important thing.
What are you reading right now?
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Every now and then I feel overwhelmed by my TBR pile, so I take a complete break and re-read a classic.