By Ian Walkley
Award-winning Welsh author Evonne Wareham’s latest offering is described as a paranormal romantic suspense. As Evonne herself puts it—you get a love story as well as assorted mayhem and dead bodies, and in this case, with a quick dose of mind reading. The novel has been described by THE BOOKSELLER magazine as a “Terrific Thriller”.
The story follows Madison Albi, a scientist with a very special talent—reading minds—who stumbles across a homeless man with whom she feels an inexplicable connection. She cannot resist the dangerous impulse to use her skills to help him.
J is a non-person—a vagrant who can’t even remember his own name. He’s got no hope, until he meets Madison. Is she the one who can restore his past? Madison agrees to help J recover his memory, but as she delves deeper into his mind, it soon becomes clear that some secrets are better off staying hidden. Is J really the man Madison believes him to be?
Evonne, your first novel, NEVER COMING HOME was about a woman whose daughter died in a car crash, but then again, did she really? A great premise, and you’ve followed up with another here. How do these ideas come to you?
I really don’t know – something may spark a thread, which links up to another thread, like building a spider web. Often a new idea will suddenly fit with something that I have had in my head for ages. I have a weakness for complex, layered plots and then I play games of ‘What if?’ to get them to work out.
Given that you could have chosen to have Madison help J in other ways, what made you decide to include mind reading in this story?
Mind reading was there from the beginning. Again, I don’t know what drew me to it – it’s the first time I’ve attempted anything with a paranormal slant. I wanted to explore how my protagonists would handle this sort of dangerous talent. And the trouble it might get them into.
Without giving too much away, I’m guessing readers will expect that Madison and J are going to get hot and steamy at some point. Does this flow from the story, or is there a formula?
Never a formula – but given that this is romantic suspense, there is an expectation that love scenes will happen. The romance and the thriller element have to progress together. As well as facing life-threatening situations, my protagonists also have a certain amount of emotional baggage to deal with. My job is to get both strands to a satisfactory conclusion by the end of the book. My characters let me know when it is time for them to make a move.
Madison is a fascinating character, a scientist who can read minds. I can see her as a series character. Have you considered writing a series character?
I’ve never been drawn to the idea of writing a series – but I wouldn’t rule it out. Readers have said that they would like to see more of the characters from both my published books. Maybe an idea will come along that I can work with.
J sounds like he might be a Jack Reacher type, or like Jack from Jodi Picoult’s SALEM FALLS. Strong, good-looking, come by hard times. How do you deal with the romantic archetypes, without making them too stereotypical?
The hero has a certain role, but he also has to be developed as a person—with flaws and problems. One of my publisher’s stipulations is that the books must include the hero’s point of view. The advantage of being able to show the hero’s motivation, from inside his head, is invaluable in making emotions realistic.
Reading some of the reviews, I was struck by two themes of commentary: 1) The story has more surprises and unexpected twists than most suspense novels, and 2) The story is much different to those the readers usually read.
As I’ve said, I like complex plots—as twisted as I can make them! I try to ensure that many things are not as they seem on the surface. On your second point – I think the answer may be that romantic suspense is not such a well known genre in the UK as it is in other parts of the world, the US in particular. In British crime writing there may be a love interest, but it is often a secondary theme. The mix of thriller and romance, on equal footing, is unexpected.
You’ve lived in London, but now have returned to Wales and live by the sea. Definitely romance country. What has driven you to include murder and mayhem with the romance?
It’s obviously a deep character flaw. I was writing for many years before being published and I experimented with all types of romance genres. After a while it dawned on me that whatever I wrote had some sort of crime in it, alongside the love story. At about the same time I discovered and began to read American romantic suspense. After another interval I joined the dots and realised that I might write something similar, but set it in Europe. I’d finally found my niche.
In a blog post you mention that Agatha Christie said most of her work was done before the book was written. Does plotting and planning help you build in the many twists and turns in your stories?
Yes, it does. Discovering that a mistress of plotting like Agatha Christie spent a lot of time on the thinking process, before starting to write, was very inspiring. I like to sort things out in my head, before I write anything down. The point when it all comes together is when I know that the book is ready to be written. That’s when I put pen to paper. The story does evolve as it goes along and the characters make their voices heard, but that is usually on the emotional, love story side of the plot.
One of your passions is history. Are we going to see some historical fiction from Evonne Wareham? How might you combine your interest in history in a future novel, or non-fiction?
I have some partly finished historical romances – the swashbuckling type – put away in a drawer. Maybe one day they will see the light of day again. I’d like to write a time slip, the sort of story that has parallel narratives – one in the present, one in the past. I have some ideas on that one, but they have not yet come to the boil.
You have commented about the importance of getting speech patterns right in dialogue. What would you advise other authors to help them improve their dialogue.
I can tell you what works for me. Listening to the rhythm of real life conversations is important. I love going to the theatre and I know this has an influence on the way I write. I’ve learned a lot from modern plays about using pauses, interruptions and half finished sentences. I also read my dialogue aloud. I find it easier to pick up when something sounds stilted or out of character that way.
Welsh author Evonne Wareham writes romantic suspense, set in Europe. Her debut novel, NEVER COMING HOME, won the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award, presented by the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and was a Single Title Reviewers’ Choice for 2012. OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND will be published in May 2013 as a paperback original by Choc Lit. It is currently available as an ebook.
To learn more about Evonne, please visit her website.